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Safeguarding Policy and Procedures

Preventing harm in research is part of the mandate of the University’s Code of Good Practice in Research and is operationalised through various policies including its research ethics policy, whether the activities take place in the UK or overseas. Harm is understood to cover exploitation and abuse, as well as mental and physical harm preventing them from occurring as a direct result of research undertaking at the UOL or a direct result of participating in research activities under the direct management of UOL.

View the Research Ethics Policy.

As part of the University’s commitment to recognise its responsibility to provide an environment in which individuals of all ages, whether staff, student or visitor, may work, learn and develop in a safe environment, and to maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of academic research, a separate Safeguarding Policy has now been approved (September 2021).

Safe guarding policy [PDF]

Safeguarding for Research Projects

Safeguarding is the action taken to promote the welfare of children under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm. Within research projects this may include staff, students and collaborators, as well as anyone directly affected by our research and teaching activities on campus, and at research and fieldwork sites in the UK or overseas e.g. research subjects, patients, etc.

As part of project delivery and risk assessment planning, the principal investigator and their research team should consider the Safe guarding policy (PDF).

which should outline both duty of care responsibilities and advice for those carrying out activities involving children and vulnerable adults. Third party organisations will often be involved and roles and responsibilities or expectations should be clearly set out and agreed with them, and reviewed regularly. When planning projects overseas, the project leader should consider moral and legal duty of care within the context of local customs, laws and expectations.

The University has a number of existing policies and procedures to support researchers in the identification and mitigation of Safeguarding concerns including:

The following advice should be followed:

  • Consider and document risks associated with your research proposal as they relate to research team, research subjects and other interested parties or communities (in line with Safeguarding policy).
  • Undertake appropriate training/reading or seek advice from the School / Institute on risks.
  • Use the ethics self-assessment form to guide you through the various considerations you may need to think about and develop a mitigation plan.
  • Consider that DBS clearance may need to be sought.
  • Include costings and appropriate time in the grant application for any safety / first aid training or measures to mitigate risks and ensure safety and wellbeing of researchers.
  • Do take the time to consider risks of the projects, related to travel and fieldwork. If fieldwork is likely to be of higher risk to researchers or particular groups, advice should be sought and local resources, networks or support should be clearly known prior to the trip taking place.
    • Discuss how the fieldwork risk assessment links with other key safeguarding concerns, processes or policies (including codes of conduct and ethical approval or local agreements, e.g. with third parties).
    • Explore other options as to whether the fieldwork needs to be conducted in-person, or by local researchers, or whether a pilot visit prior to a loner study could be arranged.
    • Ensure that researchers receive appropriate and tailored pre-departure briefings and that risk assessment form has been submitted to line manager, supervisors, and principal investigators, as appropriate.
    • Ensure that appropriate processes are in place for regular check ins, that a debrief conversation takes place, allowing the researcher to discuss their experience and any issues, and ensure ongoing support, if required, during the analysis stage (e.g. when working with emotionally demanding material).
    • Report any concerns or near misses.

Recording and Reporting Concerns

Please review the procedure for reporting your concerns as noted on the Policy and use the template for reporting any concerns. The form can be found as Appendix B (here). Please then send it to the Designated Safeguarding Officer – Elaine Walters.

Please consider the following:

As soon as possible after noticing or being told of a concern you must:

  • Let your Principal Investigator / line manager/ head of department know immediately
  • Record your concern, providing as much detail as possible in writing, sign and date your record,
  • Be precise and use their own words where possible
  • Give an opinion if it relates to their behaviour or demeanour, or note if it is your opinion

You should not:

  • Discuss the concern with anyone other than your Principal Investigator / line manager/ head of department
  • Investigate any allegations yourself

After you have reported your concern:

  • You may ask for an update in relation to your report but bear in mind that information may be shared on a need to know basis.
  • Hearing about suspected or actual abuse can be upsetting. If you need advice and support, please do not hesitate to contact Elaine Walters for available support channels.