Safeguarding Policy

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Comment This policy was updated with input from staff, trustees and the Wikimedia UK volunteer community and approved by the board in March 2017.

Policy Statement

Wikimedia UK is committed to practice which protects children and vulnerable adults from harm. Staff, trustees and volunteers within this organisation accept and recognise our responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues which can cause children and vulnerable people harm.

This policy is designed for the guidance of staff, trustees and volunteers of the charity. It also provides guidance to children, vulnerable adults, their families, schools and educational institutions, as well as formal or informal groups including children or vulnerable adults who are working with us or who are using our services. This policy will be made available to all of the above mentioned individuals and groups.

This policy focuses on Wikimedia UK ‘in person’ events where volunteers, staff and trustees are in contact with children and vulnerable adults. For information about online interaction with these groups, please refer to Wikimedia’s child protection guidelines and related policies and guidance here:

Breaches of this policy will be taken seriously, which may involve expulsion from membership or, in the case of staff, disciplinary proceedings. The charity may decline to work with any volunteer or individual where it appears that to do so might put it in breach of this policy.

The organisation is committed to reviewing this Safeguarding Policy at regular intervals.

Working with children

Wikimedia UK will at all times be guided by schools (or other partners) regarding appropriate safeguarding procedures for children and young people with whom the charity is working.

Staff, trustees or volunteers working with children or young people as part of a Wikimedia UK activity must sign a declaration regarding their previous convictions, giving permission for criminal record checks (currently undertaken by the Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS) to be carried out. If Wikimedia UK determines that a DBS check is required, this will be applied and paid for by the charity on behalf of the individual(s) concerned.

We will adopt a best practice approach to safeguarding. This means that where we are allowed by law to perform checks, but we are not required to do so, we will generally perform the checks; unless they are clearly and substantially disproportionate to the risks involved.

The Head of Programmes and Evaluation (HPE) has responsibility for ascertaining whether or not any programme activity directed or supported by the charity requires child protection checks, and to ensure that these are carried out in a timely manner. The HPE should refer the matter to the CEO and if necessary to the Board before the activity starts if they are unsure whether checks are required, or for other advice or clarification. Wikimedia UK trustees, other Wikimedia UK staff, and personnel associated with Wikimedia UK such as Wikimedians in Residence, are also expected to follow this policy; with the support of the Head of Programmes and Evaluation, their host institution (in the case of residents) and/or the educational partner involved.

As a general rule, volunteers should not have unsupervised access to children during the course of Wikimedia UK projects or programmes regardless of whether or not criminal records checks have been carried out. All volunteers working with children and young people on behalf of Wikimedia UK must be members of the charity.

Working with vulnerable adults

Vulnerable adults will be treated in the same way as children with regards to the requirement for DBS checks. As with children, it is very unlikely that staff, trustees or volunteers will work with vulnerable adults frequently or intensively, and so statutory checks are not required by law. However, if staff, trustees or volunteers from Wikimedia UK are going to be working with vulnerable adults they will be required to sign a declaration regarding their previous convictions and give permission for any necessary checks to be carried out. Only members of the charity will be permitted to work with vulnerable adults as a Wikimedia UK volunteer.


Definition of a child A child is defined as any individual under the age of 18 years.

Definition of a vulnerable adult A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 years who is in receipt of or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental of other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against harm or exploitation. The charity’s Safeguarding Policy applies to all children and vulnerable adults regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or religion.

Definitions of abuse The abuse of children or vulnerable adults occurs when the behaviour of someone in a position of greater power than a child or vulnerable adult causes harm. Harm cannot always be easily categorised as people can be abused in a number of ways, but four broad definitions of abuse can be identified:

  • Physical – where children or vulnerable adults are hurt by ill-treatment, or deliberate or neglectful failure to prevent injury or harm.
  • Emotional – where children or vulnerable adults are persistently or severely emotionally neglected or rejected, for example, by not being given enough love or attention (particularly in the case of children), made to feel worthless, or being intimidated by threats or taunts.
  • Sexual – where children or vulnerable adults are encouraged or forced to observe or participate in any form of sexual activity
  • Neglect – where children or vulnerable adults’ physical and/or psychological needs are persistently or severely neglected, or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger.

Whom to contact

All concerns about child protection matters or complaints that occur at an event should be reported to the lead event organiser, who should take responsibility for dealing with the situation according to the guidance in this policy. If the concern relates to the event organiser themselves, it should be reported to another volunteer, member of Wikimedia UK staff, or member of staff from the host venue.

The Head of Programmes and Evaluation should be informed of the situation as soon as possible by the event organiser or by the person raising the concern if it relates to the event organiser. If the concern relates to the Head of Programmes and Evaluation you should contact the Chief Executive; or the Chair of Wikimedia UK if it relates to the Chief Executive.

If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction by the person you reported it to you should escalate the matter to the Head of Programmes and Evaluation, the Chief Executive or the Chair of the board, as appropriate.

The Head of Programmes and Evaluation, Chief Executive and Chair are collectively referred to as the "child protection representatives" and must follow the Child protection representative guidelines. If the person you have reported your concerns to at the event does not take appropriate action, and in the absence of any of the above named Representatives, you should consider contacting your local Social Services office or the police. You may also call the NSPCC's National 24 hour Helpline on 0800 800500.

Non Wikimedia UK events

The spirit of this policy is that all adults involved in the Wikimedia movement have a shared responsibility to safeguard others. There may be times, due to the nature of the Wikimedia movement and the participation of children both online and at physical events such as Wikimania, that volunteers, members, staff or trustees from the UK Chapter may encounter a situation where a young person or a vulnerable adult could come to harm. In this situation, all adults associated with the UK Chapter are expected to act with care and consideration for others and to provide whatever support they are reasonably able to provide.

Legislation and Guidance

These documents are based on the following detailed legislation and guidance, which can be found online:

Department of Health/Home Office/DfEE: ‘

Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 1999

Volunteer Development Agency ‘Our Duty To Care’

The Children Act 1989

The Protection of Children Act 1999