Hands surrounding wooden figures


All under 18s and vulnerable adults have the right to protection from all forms of abuse  including exploitation, neglect, physical and mental abuse regardless of their age, gender,  disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Under 18s and some adults are less able to protect themselves than others, and some have  difficulty making their wishes and feelings known. This may make them vulnerable to abuse.  

The vast majority of people who work with under 18s/vulnerable adults are well motivated and would never harm them. Unfortunately, a few do and it is essential that the Party creates a culture that makes all those who work for and with the Party willing and comfortable to voice their concerns, particularly those about someone with whom they work or who they know personally. 

The priority should always be to ensure the safety and protection of under 18s and vulnerable adults. To this end it is the responsibility of all employees, members, and volunteers, to act on any suspicion or evidence of abuse or neglect and to pass on their concerns to a responsible person/agency.  

To report a safeguarding concern please fill out this form.

Safeguarding Under 18's and Vulnerable Adults Policy

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this policy is to set out the Liberal Democrat commitment to keeping under 18s and vulnerable adults safe. It applies to all members, employees, candidates and volunteers working on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. 

Policy Statement

We believe that everyone has a responsibility to promote the welfare of under 18s and vulnerable adults and to keep them safe. We will give equal priority to keeping all under 18s and vulnerable adults safe regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. 

We will do this by:

  • Explaining the responsibilities of the Liberal Democrats and its employees, members and volunteers, in respect of under 18s and vulnerable adult protection.  
  • Providing a clear set of procedures and processes that will be implemented where  under 18s and vulnerable adult protection issues arise.  
  • Building a safeguarding culture where all stakeholders know how they are supposed to behave and feel comfortable about sharing concerns. 

Safeguarding Guide and Code of Conduct

The full Safeguarding guide and code of conduct for working with under 18s and vulnerable adults can be found here.

This guide and code of conduct aims to assist you in providing appropriate support for under18s and vulnerable adults when you are working directly with them. If, as part of that work, an under18 or vulnerable adult discloses to you alleged inappropriate behaviour from another person (whether an adult or other under18) then please refer to the policies on this page. More details can be found in the full guide linked above or in the FAQs below.

  • Work should be undertaken in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations. 
  • Encourage open communication, wherever possible.
  • Treat all under18s and vulnerable adults, regardless of race, disability, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, equally and with respect and dignity.
  • Always put the welfare of any under18 or vulnerable adult first.
  • It is not appropriate for staff to have a physically or emotionally intimate relationship with a either a vulnerable adult or any under18. 
  • Ensure if any form of physical touching is required, it should be provided openly and kept to a minimum. Consent should be obtained wherever possible. 
  • Positively support a “whistle-blowing‟ culture where any concerns about inappropriate behaviour are reported and dealt with in a timely manner.
  • Never give alcohol or other drugs, cigarettes, or e-cigarettes to any under18 or any vulnerable adult or encourage or appear to encourage such behaviour.
  • It is not advisable to give under18s or vulnerable adults your personal details. If there is a need for contact details to be shared consider using the official channels. 
  • Parental consent must be obtained for activities involving under18s.
  • Always act in a professional manner at all times.

Managers should apply all of the rules as listed above, ensure all their staff or volunteers are aware of these rules and the related policies. Further responsibilities of managers can be found in the FAQs below or in the safeguarding code of conduct.

Safeguarding at party events (including where under18s and/or vulnerable adults are present)

  • Party staff and volunteers regularly run events which under18s and/or vulnerable adults may attend.
  • These events vary from large scale multi-focal events (e.g. federal, national and regional conferences) to small events (e.g. post-canvassing meet-ups) and they can be purely social, political or both. The approach to safeguarding should be tailored to the nature and size of the event. 
  • Where there is a concern about safeguarding, a safeguarding officer or officers present at the event should be identified to attendees before or at the start of the event. 
  • It should be made clear that attendees can approach the safeguarding officer during or after the event, and that if they do not feel comfortable approaching the safeguarding officers identified at the event they can instead approach their local party chair or the PCO.
  • If alcohol is available at any event this should never be provided to under18s and ID checks should be undertaken where someone looks under 25. 

Responding Appropriately to a Disclosure

If an under18/vulnerable adult makes a disclosure to you of alleged abuse, the key is the ‘3 Rs’: Reassure, Report and Record. 

  • Reassure: stay calm, listen and show empathy. Reassure them that it will be taken seriously and explain that the issues will be reported internally and what may happen next. 
  • Report: report to the person in charge immediately (locally).
    Consider notifying external agencies, including social services or the police if necessary (see more detail on  reporting in separate document).  
  • Record: write up notes of the conversation clearly and factually as soon as possible and pass them onto the line manager, or Local Chair and send a copy to the The Head of People and Pastoral Office at people@libdems.org.uk. Find the recording a safeguarding concern form here.

It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional safeguarding agencies, following a referral. 

Safeguarding Dos and Don'ts 


Do Don't
Make sure the individual is safe Confront the alleged abuser
Assess whether emergency services are required and if needed call them.  By judgemental or voice your own opinion.
Listen carefully to what is said. Be dismissive of the concern.
Stay calm, offer support and reassurance. Reassure the individual that they have done the right thing in telling you. Investigate or interview beyond that which is necessary to establish the basic facts. 
Explain areas of confidentiality. Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to  keep secrets.  Disturb or destroy possible forensic evidence. 
Speak to your manager for support and guidance. Consult with persons not directly involved with the situation.
Be clear to the individual about what your role is regarding the information and what action you will have to take as a result.  Ask leading questions, as this can cause problems for the subsequent investigation  and any court proceedings. A ‘leading question’ is one which suggests a particular  answer or contains the information you are seeking to confirm. 
Explain the procedure to the individual making the allegation. The individual’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account.   Assume information
Establish the basic facts. Make careful notes and obtain agreement with them over dates, time and persons present.  Make promises of confidentiality, as this may conflict with the need to ensure the safety and welfare of the individual.  
Ask questions for clarification only. Allow the individual to continue at their own pace.  Ignore the allegation.
Tell them what happens next, and with whom the information will be shared. Elaborate in your notes.
Assure the individual they will be kept informed of any action taken.  Panic.
Follow the correct procedure. Seek proof before reporting your concerns.


Safeguarding Flowchart

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Please click here.

File not loading? Download the file.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Our full safeguarding policy and procedures can be found here

    Our guide and code of conduct for working with under18s and vulnerable people can be found here.

  • Safeguarding raises issues of confidentiality which must be clearly understood. 

    Members, employees, and volunteers have a responsibility to share relevant information about the protection of under 18s and vulnerable adults with other professionals. Clear boundaries of confidentiality should be communicated to all. All personal information regarding under 18s should be kept confidential except when it is suspected that the person is the victim of abuse.  

    If an under18/vulnerable adult confides in a member, volunteer, trustee or member of employees and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the person confided in tells the individual sensitively that they have a responsibility to refer cases of alleged abuse to the appropriate agencies. Within that context, the under18/vulnerable adult should be assured that the matter will be disclosed only to people who need to know about it.  

    Where possible, consent should be obtained from the under18/ vulnerable adult before sharing personal information with third parties. In some circumstances obtaining consent may be neither possible nor desirable as the safety and welfare of the under18/vulnerable adult is the priority

    Child/adult protection issues are highly sensitive and anyone who receives information about  children/vulnerable adults or their families in the course of their work should share that  information only within appropriate professional contexts to people who justifiably have a need to know. 

    All records should be kept secure and all personal information regarding an under18/vulnerable adult should be kept confidential. All written records will be kept in a secure area for a specific time as identified in data protection guidelines. Records will only record details required in the initial contact form. More on data protection can be found here.

  • For the purposes of this document and ensuring consistent and widely understood terminology, the following definitions are used: 

    child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children’s Act 1989) and young people are defined as a person generally from 14 to 17 years of age (as defined by the  Department of Health). For the purposes of this document, these groups are referred to  collectively as under 18s.  

    The legal definition of a vulnerable adult is “an adult defined as vulnerable when they are in  receipt of a ‘regulated activity’ in relation to vulnerable adults”. ‘Regulated activities’ include assistance with healthcare, personal care and assistance with a person’s own affairs, such  as managing cash and paying bills (sections 65 and 66 of the Protection of Freedoms Act  2012). 

    A more generic definition is that a vulnerable adult can be defined as someone aged 18 or over who is, or may be, in need of community services due to age, illness or a  mental or physical disability and who is, or may be, unable to take care of themself, or unable to protect themself against significant harm or exploitation (definition from the Department of Health 2002). 

    You should consider both the legal and generic definitions when considering whether you are dealing with a vulnerable adult, although if there is conflict the legal definition shall take priority. 

  • Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment. It is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any person or persons. The abuse may be a single act or repeated acts, financial, sexual, physical, verbal or psychological, or an act of neglect or an omission to act. 

    The abuse may occur in a family or in an institutional or community setting and can be  carried out by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. It can occur in any  relationship and it may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person. In addition, for vulnerable adults, it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter  into any transaction to which he or she has not consented, or cannot consent. 

    Some definitions of abuse are: -

    Physical Abuse 

    This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning,  suffocating, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions or otherwise causing  physical harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the  symptoms of or deliberately induces illness in the vulnerable adult or under18.  

    Emotional Abuse 

    This is the persistent emotional maltreatment of the vulnerable adult or under18 such as to  cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the individual’s emotional wellbeing. It may  involve conveying to the under18/vulnerable adult that they are worthless, unloved or  inadequate. It may involve bullying, causing them to feel frightened or in danger. 

    Sexual Abuse 

    This type of abuse involves forcing or enticing a vulnerable adult or under18 to take part in  sexual activities, including prostitution whether or not the vulnerable adult or under18 is  aware of what is happening. Examples of physical contact include penetrative or non-penetrative acts.  It may include non-contact activities involving under 18s' looking at or being involved in sexual online images and/or encouraging under18s to behave in sexually inappropriate  ways. In relation to a vulnerable adult, it occurs when they have not or cannot consent or are pressured into consenting. 

    Neglect and acts of omission 

    This is the persistent failure to meet the under18’s or vulnerable adult’s basic physical,  emotional and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment to their  health and/or development. It can include failing to provide adequate food, clothing and  shelter, adequate supervision or failing to provide medical help when needed. 

    Psychological Abuse 

    This is the use of emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact,  humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation  or withdrawal from services or supportive networks. 

    Financial or material Abuse 

    This type of abuse involves theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills,  property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of  property, possessions or benefits. 

    Discriminatory Abuse 

    This type of abuse can be racist, sexist, or based on a person’s disability, age, or sexuality  and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment. 

  • A full record must be made as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation using the ‘Recording a Safeguarding Concern Form’ which can be found here.  

    This should include the date, time and place of the alleged abuse, your name and the names of others present, the name of the complainant, and where different the name of the under 18/vulnerable adult who has allegedly been abused, the nature of the alleged abuse, a description of injuries observed, the account which has been given of the allegation. 

  • Any disclosure of suspected abuse must be reported without delay, that working day where possible, to the Safeguarding Officer unless this person is involved, in which case it should be reported to the Chief Operating Officer.

    Reports can be made using this online form or by downloading this form and sending it to people@libdems.org.uk.

    The Safeguarding Officer for the Liberal Democrats is the The Head of People and Pastoral Office. Contact: people@libdems.org.uk and phone: 07471 143 559. 

  • Referrals should be made to outside agencies including social services and the police if there has been a potentially criminal act. When submitting such a report a written record of the date and time shall be made and must include the name and position of the person to whom the matter is reported. 

    If the police or social services have been informed, contact the Local Party Chair except if the Local Chair is involved in or has a connection to the disclosure of under 18/vulnerable adult, in which case contact the Head of People and Pastoral Office directly (contact details above). 

    If you are not sure about the seriousness of the allegation or whether it should be reported to outside agencies or the police, contact the Safeguarding Officer for advice as soon as possible. It is not for you to decide whether something is criminal or abusive – only that it might be, in which case the relevant agencies and/or police should be informed to make this decision. 

    The police can also offer advice regarding safety at home and in the community and may refer people who have experienced violence, abuse or crimes to the Victim Support helpline - 08 08 16 89 111 or the chat function of the Victim Support Website.   

  • Find out more on our complaints procedures and how to log a complaint here.

  • Parental written consent should be obtained prior to taking the photographs and/or video footage and use of images of under 18s. If a vulnerable adult is not able to give informed consent themselves, carer written consent should be obtained. 

    When consent is being sought, parents/carers should be made aware of when, where and how the images may be used. A consent form can be obtained from data.protection@libdems.org.uk 

  • Core safeguarding learning sessions will be available during conferences and available as a recorded video link post conference. More in depth training  may be available from individual Local Authorities and Local Safeguarding Partnerships for Adults and Children (Local Authorities, Police and CCGs). 

    For members, volunteers and employees who have occasional contact with children and young people: you should be familiar with these guidelines and understand your responsibilities relating to safeguarding under 18s and vulnerable adults. 

  • The designated safeguarding lead has overarching responsibilities regarding safeguarding in the Liberal Democrats. They will also hold a central register of all safeguarding cases 

    The Safeguarding Officer for the Liberal Democrats is the The Head of People and Pastoral Office. Contact: people@libdems.org.uk and phone: 07471 143 559. 

  • All working on behalf of the Liberal Democrats have a duty to promote the welfare and safety of under 18s and vulnerable adults. Those who works regularly with young people and vulnerable adults should ensure they are fully aware and up to date with safeguarding procedures, and referral processes.  

    Activists, employees, volunteers and trustees may receive disclosures of abuse of under 18s/vulnerable adults or observe under 18s/vulnerable adults who are at risk. This policy will enable them to make informed and confident responses to specific safeguarding issues.  

  •  A Responsible Person can be a line manager, person-in-charge or local party chair and must support employees, members or volunteers involved with a disclosure and ensure the correct procedures are followed. They must contact the delegated safeguarding lead in the local party or designated Safeguarding Officer at HQ in the first instance. 

    The Responsible Person should ensure all people within their team are familiar with the party’s current safeguarding procedures and where appropriate undertake safeguarding training. They should ensure those who work closely and regularly with under 18s/vulnerable adults in an unsupervised environment, have a DBS check. If you think that you may need to get a DBS check (a Disclosure and Barring Service Check - formerly CRB) for safeguarding purposes because of the role you hold in the party, please check the FAQs for guidance on how to apply, the process and costs. 

    Recruitment should be undertaken in line with current Liberal Democrats recruitment processes and procedures. These procedures and processes take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of under 18s and vulnerable adults, including arrangements for appropriate checks on new employees, volunteers and trustees where applicable.  

  • The Lib Dems get their DBS checks done through a third-party agency called Criminal Records Services. Please contact the People Team (people@libdems.org.uk) to start the process. Please include information on whether you are employed or a volunteer.

    After contacting the People Team, applicants need to complete an online form and then provide three identification documents (a full list of suitable documents can be found here.) 

    These will need to be ratified by a senior officer in your local party confirming photo ID likeness and that the details across documents are consistent. You will also need to confirm in writing that you give consent for us to process your application. Time-frames can differ but the average is 4 weeks from the time we have all of your documentation and completed form. 

    Confidentiality - Please be reassured for all checks we will only be able to see that there is nothing or something to see on your DBS certificate - not the detail contained within it.  

  • There are three levels of DBS checks: basic, standard and enhanced. 

    Basic checks can be obtained by any individual or organisation with the applicants consent. No criteria is necessary for such a check. 

    Standard checks are for those working in professions such as Legal, Finance, Security or that are registered with the correct authorities such as the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), or people working within the NHS Setting such as medical administrators. 

    Enhanced checks require the applicant to be working directly with vulnerable adults or under 18s frequently (once a week or 4 or more days in a 30-day period) in an unsupervised environment e.g. regular transport of an under 18 in their own car for the purpose of deliveries. 

  • If you are getting a check on behalf of an MPs Office or local party office they will need to confirm that they are happy to pay for it. You will also need to confirm whether or not you are a volunteer or an employee of the party as this affects the cost.