Reporting and Managing Concerns

Outside golf

There may be occasions when a concern is raised about abuse possibly occurring outside of the golf club. In these cases:

  • the CWO should be notified;
  • the CWO may notify CSC or the police;
  • no further action will be taken using the golf procedures outlined here;
  • in partnership with the appropriate agencies, the club or county might need to provide support for the child involved or the person who has made the referral. 

See Flowchart 1

Inside golf

There may be occasions when a concern is raised about alleged abuse happening within the golf club. In this case:

  • the CWO should be notified;
  • the CWO must  notify either the local CSC and/or the police and the NGB CPO;    
  • the NGB CPO will notify the SCiG Case Management Group (CMG) as required;
  • advice from CSC and/or police should inform the timing of any investigation occurring under the NGB disciplinary procedures.

If the CWO or NGB CPO is not available, it’s important not to delay taking action. Advice should be sought from the local CSC, the police, the LSCB or the NSPCC.

As soon as possible, the NGB CPO should be informed of the action taken to date.

The NGB CPO should be made aware of every incident that’s reported. It’s essential that child welfare issues are dealt with centrally, rather than just within the club. The allegation may be just one part of a much wider picture concerning that child or adult.

To protect a child from any further potential risk, and also to protect the person against whom the allegation is made, claims of abuse or poor practice should be dealt with confidentially. Until allegations can be substantiated, only those who can assist in the case should be informed. Even if an allegation turns out to be unfounded, the rules of confidentiality still apply.

In line with data protection policies, all records kept by the NGB must be securely stored, available only to authorised people.

See Flowchart 2

Safeguarding Children in Golf Case Management Group (SCiG CMG)

The SCiG CMG is made up of people who have been trained to respond to referrals of child welfare issues. Each NGB has a dedicated Case Management Officer who is part of this group.

Where a concern is reported relating to child protection, the Case Management Officer will be able to advise the club. This advice will mainly relate to the ‘route’ a case should take via golf processes and/or external agencies. When a case is referred to the CMG, the Officer is likely to undertake some preliminary investigation to determine the level of support and direction that will be needed. For example, allegations of ‘low risk’ poor practice would be referred back to club complaints/disciplinary procedures with advice, whilst suspected child abuse would be dealt with at a national level via disciplinary procedures and statutory agencies. One of the functions of the SCiG CMG is to complement and coordinate any action being taken by external agencies.

The CMG group comprises members who have experience, understanding and awareness of child welfare issues, decision-making processes, criminal justice, and best practice in golf. The group will ensure that the decision-making process is consistent and fair across golfing organisations, and separated from the process of investigation. 

Whistle-blowing

Staff, volunteers, PGA professionals, coaches, referees, club members and other juniors might be the first people to raise concerns about a child’s welfare. But they may also be reluctant to speak up – they may find it difficult, or fear harassment or victimisation. In these circumstances it can seem easier to ignore a problem, rather than report it, especially if it is ‘just’ a suspicion of poor practice.

When individuals feel unable to follow normal reporting procedures (See Flowchart 2), or have already followed procedures but are worried the issues have not been fully addressed, they should contact the NGB CPO.   

This process, known as ‘whistle-blowing’, enables individuals to share their concerns in confidence, without fear of subsequent discrimination or disadvantages.  All instances of whistle-blowing will be taken seriously and managed according to SCiG policies.

The NGB will protect those who report poor practice or abuse in good faith. Wherever possible the identity of the whistle-blower will be protected; depending on the seriousness of the allegation, however, and particularly if police need to become involved, it might not be possible to do so. The whistle-blower will be given prior notice of this and a chance to discuss the consequences. The NGB will ensure that support is available throughout.

In cases where it’s necessary to take immediate steps, or where it doesn’t seem possible to disclose concerns to the NGB CPO, whistle-blowers should contact the police, Children’s Social Care or the NSPCC.

Responding to a child’s disclosure of abuse

Abuse can and does occur in a variety of situations, but most often takes place at home. It’s rarely a one-off occurrence in these cases, so it’s crucial those involved in golf are aware of this, and understand that all allegations should be taken seriously.

The appropriate agencies must be informed about possible abuse so they can make enquiries and take action to protect the child. This applies to suspicions of abuse occurring within golf as well as allegations of abuse taking place elsewhere.

If a child reports abuse, or says something that gives cause for concern, you need to:

  • stay calm;
  • keep an open mind;
  • listen carefully to what is said and take the child seriously
  • record in writing what was said, in the child’s own words, using the Example Incident Report Form;
  • find an appropriate, early opportunity to explain to the child that it’s likely the information will need to be shared and tell them who might be told – don’t keep secrets;
  • keep questions to a minimum to ensure a clear understanding of what’s been said;
  • reassure the child that they’ve done the right thing telling you;
  • report the issue in line with procedures. The NGB CPO should seek guidance from the local CSC officer with respect to consulting with parents and keep you informed of progress.