The VCC is totally committed to the safety and safeguarding of our cadets and adult volunteers, as well as external stakeholders. Whilst some of our activities are designed to challenge our cadets and let them experience a ‘sense of risk’, all necessary precautions are taken to ensure they remain safe.
Activities conducted by the VCC can be ‘site based’ as well as external (eg: on a training area or in a public location). For activities beyond the unit, our Duty of Care extends to cover travel to and from the external location (unless personnel are instructed to make their own way to and from that location) as well as activities undertaken at there, even if these are managed by a third party. Where a third party delivers training or activities to our cadets we undertake due diligence checks in advance to make sure their staff are DBS cleared, have suitable qualifications, and that the provider has adequate insurance, risk assessments and emergency action plans in place.
HM Government defines ‘safeguarding children’ as “The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.” This can range from making sure adult volunteers are using appropriate language around cadets all the way through to being a trusted person that a cadet feels they can come and speak to if something is wrong. Indeed, we find that many safeguarding incidents involving cadets happen outside the VCC but we are often the people they come and talk to – it’s really important they see us as a safe space.
As an absolute minimum, all Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) are subject to the mandatory disclosure checks that all adults volunteering with children must undergo. That ensures there’s nothing about that person that would cause us concern. They then undergo induction training which includes safeguarding and the conduct we expect.
Safeguarding training doesn’t end there however. Annual refresher training is compulsory for all CFAVs as this helps to keep safeguarding at the forefront of volunteers’ minds, and allows the VCC to address any particular issues or trends, or include recent changes in best practice or legislation. The VCC also uses CPOMS, an online application that facilitates the reporting and management of safeguarding and welfare concerns.
Please take a look at our Safeguarding Policy Statement and find out more about the MOD’s safeguarding framework here. If you have any concerns regarding safeguarding in the VCC please contact your local unit or HQVCC (see Contact Us for more information).
Adult Volunteer DBS Checks
Being a CFAV in the VCC is a very rewarding experience, but one that comes with huge responsibilities. By entrusting their children to the VCC, parents and carers are putting the safety and wellbeing of their children in our hands. We take our duty of care to young people very seriously, which is why we make checks on all potential new volunteers, give them regular safeguarding training, and expect them to abide by the VCC’s Regulations and our Code of Conduct.
Before joining the VCC all potential volunteers have to undergo an enhanced disclosure check (Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales, or Disclosure Scotland in Scotland). These and other security checks have to be completed before volunteers are allowed unsupervised access to cadets. We also renew our checks of every volunteer at least every five years. The disclosure check will reveal any convictions, warnings or reprimands the potential volunteer has received and any other relevant information held by the police. It will also show whether the applicant has been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.
Where an applicant has a minor criminal offence but appears otherwise suitable, the local unit will discuss the application with HQVCC before a decision is made. However, where the DBS shows that an applicant is on the barred list for working with children and vulnerable adults they will not be allowed to join the VCC.
Safeguarding is of the utmost importance in the VCC which is why our CFAVs are also subject to additional security and reference checks before they join, and undertake safeguarding training as part of their induction process, and annually thereafter.
There are various primary and secondary health and safety obligations placed upon the VCC when it comes to assuring safe delivery of our training and activities. Primary obligations relate to regulatory requirements and secondary obligations relate to specific assurance requirements of key stakeholders.
The key principle that underlines the VCC health and safety policy is that it will apply a ‘Duty of Care’ to all stakeholders affected by its activities. This Duty of Care will apply to all activities, in all circumstances, and at all premises. Effective execution of this Duty of Care will ensure that the VCC provides its training and activities safely. The evidence the VCC collates in support of this provides assurance to all the relevant regulators and stakeholders.
All cadets, staff and other volunteers have a duty to ensure they take care of themselves as well as others, and that they cooperate with any health and safety arrangements that the VCC and/or MOD requires. VCC activities take place at a variety of locations. These include military and naval establishments, training areas, training centres, ranges and other MoD premises. Also included are public facilities such as adventure training centres. Annual camps can take place anywhere although will usually be within a MOD establishment. Wherever our activities are being undertaken, our Duty of Care principle always applies.
We ask cadets’ parents and carers to share our health and safety responsibility by ensuring that we are aware of any changes in cadets’ medical status and that sufficient information is provided, in confidence, to their child’s VCC unit.
All of our activities follow the MOD ‘safe system of training’. This is made up of four elements:
- Safe persons.
- Safe equipment.
- Safe practice.
- Safe place.
By following the SST our activities are not only properly authorised but adequately planned and conducted to ensure that cadets, CFAVs and others are not put at undue risk. Those responsible for delivering a particular activity are also made aware of the need to adapt to changing circumstances (eg: dynamic risk assessment).
Sickness and Injury
When a cadet or CFAV falls ill or is injured whilst involved in VCC activities we will provide first aid treatment if appropriate (from first aid trained personnel) but if this is not sufficient we will seek medical assistance via the NHS (although free treatment may be given by a Naval Medical Officer or in a Naval Establishment if Service facilities are more readily available). VCC personnel may, when involved in our activities, be given treatment from Service sources for the relief of dental pain but dental treatment will normally be obtained through the NHS.
All accidents, incidents and near-misses are reported in accordance with the Volunteer Cadet Corps Regulations (VCRs). Whilst it is rare, we will take cadets and CFAVs to hospital should an occurrence be assessed as being beyond the capabilities of our trained and qualified first aiders. In the case of cadets, parents or guardians are immediately informed and kept updated. In the majority of cases a hospital visit is purely precautionary.
Our Duty of Care requires proper supervision of cadets at all times when engaged in VCC activities wherever they are being undertaken. It is the responsibility of each VCC unit Commanding Officer to ensure that this requirement is met, both in terms of quantity of adults and their appropriate qualifications. It is essential that an appropriate ratio of staff to cadets is maintained as defined by the MOD. Further guidance can be obtained from HQVCC or unit Health and Safety Officers.
Each VCC unit will have risk assessments for its activities. Please contact your unit’s Health & Safety Officer to see copies of these and for further information. For all other queries regarding Health and Safety within the VCC, please contact the Training and Safety Officer.