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Safeguarding means putting processes in place to ensure that vulnerable people are not abused in any way, including verbally or physically.
Safeguarding as a general concept is to protect people from harm and the best way to do that is to put appropriate measures in place. This often comes in the form of a framework, which allows those involved to follow certain steps and prevent negative outcomes in a tried and tested manner.
When is safeguarding used?
Knowing about safeguarding and being trained in its implementation is a very useful skill to have. This is partly due to the fact that it can be used in a number of wide-reaching situations. The first, of course, is when looking after vulnerable people. Within this area there are several subcategories, such as children, older people and those with learning difficulties.
It is vitally important that anyone who is seen as vulnerable is protected, although all people within hierarchical structures should also be looked after. A common example of this is the workplace, where safeguarding helps to ensure that employees are not exploited or taken advantage of.
What constitutes abuse?
In order to fully understand safeguarding and the role it plays, it is important to know what constitutes abuse. It can be verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, financial or even neglect and can lead to the victim being hurt, upset, frightened or manipulated into doing something they know is wrong or do not want to do. Another issue is that the person subjected to the abuse may find it hard to report the matter.
Ways of safeguarding people
There are lots of ways to safeguard vulnerable people, but here are some of the most common forms:
- Analysing available information to decide on the level of risk posed
- Forwarding any concerns onto local authorities and the police
- Asking vulnerable people if they have any safeguarding concerns
- Carrying out investigations into safeguarding and writing reports into the findings
- Taking action in any areas where safeguarding is failing vulnerable people
Since 2006, it has been enshrined in law that vulnerable people are kept safe. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was passed in the wake of the Soham murders, when the two victims were targeted by their school caretaker. It also led to the foundation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which ensures that those on lists barring them from working with vulnerable groups, including children, cannot gain employment in places where they would come into contact with them.
Responsibility of employers
The emphasis is still on employers to make sure that they are not hiring anyone inappropriate to work with vulnerable people. This includes carrying out police checks on all potential staff and volunteers, before they are left alone with children, elderly people and those with learning difficulties.
Their responsibility goes further still, as someone who has been checked could still harm a vulnerable person for the first time. If this is the case, it is not simply enough to terminate that person’s employment, as they also have a duty to inform the Independent Safeguarding Authority, who can ensure such behaviour does not happen again.
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