Reporting concerns

If you are concerned about the behaviour of an adult or other child towards a child, the information here will help you to understand how to take action.

Safeguarding concerns may be incidents of minor poor practice, serious or repeated poor practice or actual abuse. The suggestion that a child or young person has or is being abused can evoke strong emotions. It can be very difficult to hear suspicions or allegations but it is important that concerns are acted on and reported to the appropriate authorities to deal with in a timely manner.

Sometimes concerns will involve individuals operating within angling (e.g. coaches, volunteers or other anglers and sometimes they will involve issues that have occurred outside of the sport (e.g. at home, school or in the wider community). In either case where you are concerned about a child’s welfare this should be reported to the Club Welfare Officer (CWO) Regional Welfare Officer or AT Safeguarding Officer (ATSO).

Remember it is not for you to decide if abuse has taken place but you are responsible for reporting the concerns.

Roles and responsibilities

Club Welfare Officer (CWO)

The Club Welfare Officer is the person appointed at club level and provides the essential point of contact for welfare within the club. The CWO is the person who has responsibility for receiving and acting upon concerns reported to them within the club setting.  The Club Welfare Officer should be selected for their skills and knowledge, such as being able to handle safeguarding matters in an appropriate and confidential manner. They should be approachable for any concerns regarding safeguarding and be appropriately supported by other members of the club. The CWO will report concerns to the AT Safeguarding Officer and offer advice at a club level where safeguarding concerns have arisen.

Along with the club committee, the Club Welfare Officer should ensure that the club is adopting and implementing the safeguarding policy. Clubs are advised to ideally have two Club Welfare Officers, with at least one not holding a coaching position or being related to a coach at the club.

Regional Welfare Officer (RWO)

The Regional Welfare Officer is the person appointed by the Angling Trust who provides an essential point of contact for welfare at a local level. The RWO is the person who has responsibility for receiving and acting upon concerns reported to them within the local area.  The Regional Welfare Officer has been trained to handle safeguarding matters in an appropriate and confidential manner and deal with or escalate concerns appropriately.

The RWO will report concerns to the AT Safeguarding Officer and offer advice at a club level where safeguarding concerns have arisen.

AT Lead Safeguarding Officer (ATSO)

Every sports organisation should designate a person to promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults within the sport. The role includes liaising with the DBS recruitment process, co-ordinating the dissemination of relevant safeguarding policies, procedures and resources as well as supporting Club Welfare Officers and Regional Welfare Officers in their roles. The ATSO also provides support for the AT board, as well as managing the administration of cases of poor practice/abuse within the sport and contribution to the Case management panel when cases arise. This includes being the central point of contact for enquiries such as from complainants, the LADO, Children’s Social Care and/or the Police.

The ATSO is the AT national lead for receiving and acting upon concerns of a safeguarding nature.  This person will receive concerns about:

  • unacceptable behaviour of a member of staff or volunteer towards a child;
  • unacceptable behaviour towards a child by someone within a club setting;
  • concerns of a serious or significant nature;
  • any concerns arising outside of a club situation, such as privately owned and run fisheries;
  • any concerns outside the scope of the CWO.

Whistle Blowing

It is acknowledged that feelings generated by the discovery that a coach, volunteer or other child or young person has abused, or may be, abusing a child will raise concern amongst other coaches or volunteers, particularly in relation to the difficulties inherent in reporting such matters. 

It is important, however, that any concerns for the welfare of any child arising from poor practice, abuse or harassment by a coach, volunteer or child / young person should be reported immediately following the reporting process highlighted in the download document.

Coaches, officials, team mates or parents may suspect that a young person’s safety and welfare are under threat, but they may not express their concerns due to fear of harassment or victimisation.  In these circumstances it may be easier for them to ignore the concern, or hope someone else speaks out rather than report what may be a suspicion of poor practice.

The Angling Trust is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty and accountability. In line with that commitment, individuals are encouraged, if they have serious concerns about any aspect of a young person’s safety and welfare, to come forward and voice those concerns.  All of those involved in activity carried out under the jurisdiction of the Angling Trust, are covered in the Safeguarding Children and Young People in Angling Policy.

Responding to a child or young person    

It is always difficult to hear about or witness harm or abuse experienced by a child or young person. The following points will be helpful for both you and the child should they choose to disclose abuse to you:

  • Stay calm.
  • Listen carefully to what is said and try not to interrupt.
  • Find an appropriate point early on to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets.
  • Allow them to continue at their own pace.
  • Ask questions for clarification only, and avoid asking questions that suggest an answer (leading questions).
  • Reassure them that they are not to blame and have done the right thing in telling you.
  • Ask them for their permission to inform appropriate others and explain why: that it is for their own protection and the protection of others.  If they refuse permission (and are of an age to make decisions for themselves in some areas) you still need to discuss this with the designated person who will make an assessment of whether there is an over-riding public responsibility to share the information.
  • In light of this, tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared.  If they are adamant that they do not wish the information to be shared, explain that you will have to tell your club manager, welfare officer or designated person and that it will be discussed further with them.
  • Be aware of the possibility of forensic evidence if the disclosure relates to a recent incident of physical or sexual harm or injury and try to protect any supporting materials e.g. bedding or clothing.
  • Record in writing as soon as possible, using their words as closely as possible and using the AT report form.  Note date, time, any names mentioned, names and addresses to whom the information was given and who else is aware of the allegation. Note or describe clearly any visible injury.
  • Contact your Club Welfare Officer, Regional Welfare Officer and/or the AT Safeguarding Officer.