Recently we were asked why we demand DBS /police checks and references for volunteers who are offering to work online with us – (not in situ) – for the organisations with which we work.
Good question and here’s our reply
Our first priority is the safety of the communities and volunteers we work with.
We have a duty to do all we can to ensure that the children, young people and any at risk adults that we work with are safeguarded from harm.
We have to be mindful of safer recruitment
A key part of the safer recruitment process is the use of a DBS check (or the international equivalent). A DBS check refers to the Disclosure and Barring Services, which helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. DBS helps access if any applicants have criminal records or are on any barring lists which would raise concern about their ability to be able to administer care, or to work in the sector at all.
Most importantly, these background checks enable us to make sure the people we work with are protected.
In addition we require 2 referees – who we will contact directly.
We recognise that:
- the online world provides everyone with many opportunities; however it can also present risks and challenges – grooming and cyber bullying for example
- we have a duty to ensure that all children, young people and adults involved in our organisation are protected from potential harm online
- we have a responsibility to help keep children and young people safe online
- we have a duty to guide volunteers in safe online procedures – to protect them as well as the children and vulnerable people they will be working with
- working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers other agencies and volunteers is essential in promoting young people’s welfare and in helping young people to be responsible in their approach to online safety.
All volunteers who work with children online will be asked to commit to and sign our child protection policy – which applies to e-volunteering as well as in country work.
We hope the above explains why we must ask you for DBS/police checks and references – if you have any questions please write to me – firstname.lastname@example.org
We seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- appointing an online safety coordinator
- providing clear and specific directions to volunteers on how to behave online through our behaviour code
- supporting and encouraging the young people using our service to use the internet, social media and mobile phones in a way that keeps them safe and shows respect for others
- supporting and encouraging parents and carers to do what they can to keep their children safe online
- developing an online safety agreement for use with young people and their parents/carers
- developing clear and robust procedures to enable us to respond appropriately to any incidents of inappropriate online behaviour, whether by an adult or a child/young person
- reviewing and updating the security of our information systems regularly · ensuring that user names, logins, email accounts and passwords are used effectively
- ensuring personal information about the adults and children who are involved in our organisation is held securely and shared only as appropriate
- ensuring that images of children, young people and families are used only after their permission has been obtained, and only for the purpose for which consent has been given
- providing supervision, support and training for staff and volunteers about online safety
- examining and risk assessing any social media platforms and new technologies before they are used within the organisation.
If online abuse occurs, we will respond to it by:
- having clear and robust safeguarding procedures in place for responding to abuse (including online abuse)
- providing guidance for all volunteers on how to report any suspected abuse – we require that volunteers do not address any suspected abuse
- reviewing the plan developed to address online abuse at regular intervals, in order to ensure that any problems have been resolved in the long term.