1 Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility

Disabled Students UK seeks to serve the needs of its members in circumstances where they may be classed as vulnerable adults, and promote holistic development.

  • Disabled Students UK is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and positive environment and accepts our responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all adults involved, in accordance with legislation.
  • Disabled Students UK will provide training opportunities to the Leadership Team and other members where appropriate and available. 
  • Disabled Students UK safeguarding adults policy and procedures apply to all individuals involved in Disabled Students UK.
  • Disabled Students UK will encourage and support partner organisations, including clubs, counties, suppliers, and sponsors to adopt and demonstrate their commitment to the principles and practice of equality as set out in this safeguarding adults policy and procedures document.

2 Principles

The guidance given in the policy and procedures is based on the following principles:

  • All adults, regardless of age, ability or disability, gender, race, religion, ethnic
    origin, sexual orientation, marital or gender status have the right to be protected from abuse and poor practice and to participate in an enjoyable and safe environment.
  • Disabled Students UK will seek to ensure that our organisation is inclusive and make reasonable adjustments for any ability, disability or impairment. We will also commit to
    continuous development, monitoring and review.
  • The rights, dignity and worth of all adults will always be respected.
  • We recognise that ability and disability can change over time, such that some
    adults may be additionally vulnerable to abuse, in particular those adults with
    care and support needs.
  • Safeguarding adults is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a shared responsi-
    bility to ensure the safety and well-being of all adults and will act appropriately
    and report concerns whether these concerns arise within Disabled Students UK or in the wider
  • All allegations will be taken seriously and responded to quickly in line with Disabled Students UK Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedures.
  • Disabled Students UK  recognises the role and responsibilities of the statutory agencies in safeguarding adults and is committed to complying with local safeguarding procedures.
2.1 The Principles of Adult Safeguarding

There are four separate pieces of legislation for the UK with separate principles

around how adults should be safeguarded. Each piece of legislation recognises that it is the circumstances that adults find themselves in that makes them more vulnerable to abuse. The legislation expects adults to be central to the decision-making process and makes the adult’s welfare and wellbeing the primary consideration in any decision making. The phrase ‘adult support and protection’ is used instead of ‘safeguarding’ in Scotland. However, for consistency across the Home Nations, the term ‘safeguarding’ is used for this policy in relation to adults at risk in Scotland.

2.2 Making Safeguarding Personal

‘Making safeguarding personal’ means that adult safeguarding should be person led and outcome focussed. It engages the person in a conversation about how best to respond to their safeguarding situation in a way that enhances involvement, choice and control, as well as improving quality of life, well-being and safety.

Wherever possible safeguarding concerns should be discussed with the adult to get their view of what they would like to happen. They should be involved in the safeguarding process, giving their consent to share information outside of the organisation where necessary..

2.3 Wellbeing Principle

The concept of ‘wellbeing’ is threaded throughout English and Welsh legislation and is related to the personal dignity, support and inclusion of all. 

2.4 Capacity and decision making

Capacity refers to the ability to make a decision at a particular time, for example when under considerable stress. The starting assumption must always be that a person has the capacity to make a decision unless it can be established that they lack capacity.

People should be given information in formats that they understand to be able to make decisions. 

3 Legislation

The practices and procedures within this policy are based on the principles contained within the UK legislation and Government Guidance which take the following into consideration:

  • England – The Care Act 2014
  • Wales – Social Services and Well Being Act 2014
  • Scotland – Adult Support and Protection Act 2007
  • Northern Ireland – Adult Safeguarding Prevention and Protection in Partnership
  • The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
  • Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012
  • The Equality Act 2010
  • The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • England and Wales – Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Scotland – Adults with Incapacity Act 2000
  • Mental Capacity (Northern Ireland) 2016
  • Sexual Offences Act 1956-2003
  • The Human Rights Act 1998
  • The Data Protection Act 1998
  • The General Data Protection Regulation 2016
  • Adult at risk of abuse or neglect definition

Safeguarding legislation has moved away from the term ‘vulnerable adult’, instead using the term ‘adult at risk’. This term illustrates that it is the circumstances affecting people with care and support needs that causes them to be at risk of abuse or neglect.

4 Types of Abuse

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by another person or persons. There are different types and patterns of abuse and neglect and different circumstances in which they may take place. Each Home Country defines categories of adult abuse and harm as follows: Categories of Abuse / Harm

There are additional definitions which, while not included in legislation, are also relevant. These are;

  1. Cyber Bullying
  2. Radicalisation

5 Signs and indicators of abuse and neglect

Abuse can take place in any context and by all manner of perpetrator. Abuse may be inflicted by anyone in the organisation who a participant comes into contact with.

Alternatively, other participants, workers or volunteers may suspect that an adult is being abused or neglected outside of the organisation’s setting. There are many signs and indicators that may suggest someone is being abused or neglected. These include

but are not limited to:

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries – or lack of medical attention when an injury is
  • Person has belongings or money going missing.
  • Person is not attending / no longer enjoying an event or activity. You may notice
    that a participant in the organisation has been missing from an event and/or activity and is not responding to communication with other members of the organisation.
  • Someone losing or gaining weight / an unkempt appearance. This could be a
    member whose appearance becomes unkempt, or does not wear suitable attire, and there is a deterioration in hygiene.
  • A change in the behaviour or confidence of a person. For example, a participant
    may be looking quiet and withdrawn in communication and/or reaction to a specific individual, in contrast to communication with another individual whom they greet with a smile.
  • They may self-harm.
  • They may have a fear of a particular group of people or individual.
  • They may tell you / another person they are being abused – i.e. a disclosure.
  • Harassment of a participant because they are or are perceived to have protected
  • Not meeting the needs of the participant. E.g. repeatedly failing to meet access needs when it is within their ability and capacity to do so.
  • A participant who sends unwanted sexually explicit text messages to an adult
    with learning disabilities they are training alongside.
  • A participant threatening another participant with physical harm and persis-
    tently blaming them for poor performance.

What to do if you have a concern or someone raises concerns with you

  • It is not your responsibility to decide whether an adult has been abused. It is,
    however, everyone’s responsibility to respond to and report concerns.
  • If you are concerned someone is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999
    straight away. Where you suspect that a crime is being committed, you must
    involve the police.
  • If you have concerns and or you are told about possible or alleged abuse, poor
    practice or wider welfare issues you must report this to the Disabled Students UK Safeguarding Lead. If the Safeguarding Lead is
    implicated, then report to a (or another) Disabled Students UK Leader.
  • When raising your concern with the Safeguarding Lead, remember to ‘make safeguarding personal’. It is good practice to seek the
    adult’s views on what they would like to happen next and to inform the adult
    of what actions you intend to take.
  • It is important when considering your concern that you keep the person in-
    formed about any decisions and action taken about them, and always consider
    their needs and wishes.

6 How to respond to a concern

  • Make a note of your concerns.
  • Make a note of what the person has said using his or her own words as soon
    as practicable. Complete an Incident Form and submit to the Disabled Students UK Safeguarding Lead.
  • Remember to make safeguarding personal. Discuss your safeguarding concerns
    with the adult, obtain their view of what they would like to happen, but inform
    them it’s your duty to pass on your concerns to the Safeguarding Lead.
  • Describe the circumstances in which the disclosure came about.
  • Take care to distinguish between fact, observation, allegation and opinion. It is
    important that the information you have is accurate.
  • Be mindful of the need to be confidential at all times. This information must
    only be shared with your Safeguarding Lead and others on a
    need-to-know basis.
  • If the matter is urgent and relates to the immediate safety of an adult at risk,
    then contact the emergency services immediately.

7. Dealing with Concerns, Suspicions or Disclosure

good practice, poor practice and abuse

Remember to involve the adult at risk throughout the process wherever possible and gain consent for any referrals to social care if the person has capacity Inform the Safeguarding Lead. Make notes and complete Incident Report Form, submit to Safeguarding Lead.

Roles and responsibilities of those within Disabled Students UK 

8 Good practice, poor practice and abuse

  • It can be difficult to distinguish poor practice from abuse, whether intentional or
  • accidental.
  • It is not the responsibility of any individual involved in Disabled Students UK to make judgements
  • regarding whether or not abuse is taking place. However, all Disabled Students UK personnel have
  • the responsibility to recognise and identify poor practice and potential abuse, and act on this if they have concerns.
8.1 Good practice

Disabled Students UK expects that leaders:

  • Adopt and endorse the Disabled Students UK Codes of Conduct.
  • Have completed a course in basic awareness in working with and safeguarding adults.

Everyone should:

  • Aim to make the experience of Disabled Students UK fun and enjoyable.
  • Promote fairness and playing by the rules. Not tolerate the use of prohibited or
    illegal substances.
  • Treat all adults equally and preserve their dignity; this includes giving more
    and less talented members of a group have similar attention, time and respect.

9 Further Information

Policies, procedures and supporting information are available on the Disabled Students UK website

Safeguarding Lead : Miss Amelia McLoughlan

Review date April 2021

This policy will be reviewed every six months or sooner in the event of legislative changes or revised policies and best practice.

Policy Owner: Disabled Students UK Leadership Team