Operational Rules

Section E3: Safeguarding Policy

Every effort has been made by the RFL to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of going to press. This Policy is meant as general advice and in specific situations the reader is advised to contact the RFL Safeguarding team or take further advice if necessary. Where a synopsis of the Operational Rules is given the full Operational Rules as published by the RFL from time to time take precedence.


The RFL would like to thank the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) for their support and guidance. Special thanks also to the other sports whose work in this field has been a valuable source of information and inspiration, in particular, the Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Ian Cooper, the former Chief Executive of BARLA, should also be credited as the major driving force behind the original RFL Child Protection Policy on which this publication is based.

Issued by the RFL July 2008. 

Available in other formats or languages on request.





1.1 Policy Statement

1.2 Key Principles

1.3 Safeguarding Remit

1.4 Incorporation

1.5 Safeguarding Rule

1.6 Definitions & Assumptions

1.7 Legal Framework



2.1 Who Has Responsibility for Safeguarding in Rugby League

2.2 RFL Safeguarding Officer

2.3 Regional Welfare Officer

2.4 Club Welfare Officer

2.5 Service Area Welfare Officer

2.6 Match Officials Society Welfare Officer



3.1 Duty of Care

3.2 Getting the Policies & Procedures in Place

3.3 Recruitment, Employment and Deployment Of Staff And Volunteers

3.4 General Principles of Good Practice

3.5 Equality & Diversity

3.6 Education

3.7 Managing Challenging Behaviour



4.1 Recognising Abuse &/or Poor Practice

4.2 Awareness of Increased Vulnerability to Abuse

4.3 Defining Abuse

4.4 Relationships of Trust

4.5 Grooming



5.1 Background

5.2 Whistle Blowing

5.3 Action to take to report concerns, a disclosure or an allegation

5.4 Advice on action to be taken if a child discloses to you

5.5 Confidentiality

5.6 Recording the Incident or Allegation

5.7 The Role of the Statutory Agencies

5.8 The RFL Case Management System

5.9 Support to Deal with the Aftermath

5.10 Support for Alleged Perpetrator

5.11 Indicators of Abuse


6 POLICIES, PROCEDURES & TEMPLATES (see RFL Website/hard copy Policy)

A1 RESPECT Code of Conduct

A2 Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct

A3 RFL Safeguarding Regulation

A4 Role Descriptions

A5 Club Safeguarding Policy (also see Template 1)

A6 Selection & Recruitment Policy

A7 Whistle Blowing Policy

A8 RFL Dressing Room Policy

A9 Anti Bullying Policy

A10 Recording Images of Children

A11 Recognising Abuse in Rugby League

A12 Responding to Abuse or Poor Practice

A13 Club Procedures for Managing Cases of Poor Practice

A14 Transporting Children Policy

A15 Safeguarding Disabled Children in Rugby League

A16 CRB Information

A17 Managing Challenging Behaviour

A18 Parent’s Leaflet (available as download on www.rfl.uk.com or hard copy from RFL)

A19 Children’s Leaflet (available as download on www.rfl.uk.com or hard copy from RFL)

A20 Health & Safety Policy, Risk Assessment Policy & Medical Policy (available from www.rfl.uk.com )

T1 Club Safeguarding Policy

T2 Player Profile & Parental Consent

T3 Application Form

T4 Appraisal Form

T5 Reference Form

T6 100%ME

T7 Club Anti Bullying Policy

T8 Equal Opportunities Policy

T9 Tackle It

T10 Incident Referral Form

T11 Self Disclosure Form

T12 Accident Report Form




Red Hall

Red Hall Lane


0844 477 7113 option 6





NSPCC National Training Centre

3 Gilmour Close

Beaumont Leys


0116 234 7278





Child Protection Helpline - 0808 800 5000



I am delighted to provide the foreword for this revised and updated policy which explains the RFL’s work in the area of Safeguarding and Protecting all individuals who participate in Rugby League.

This aspect of our organisation’s activities is extremely important to us as we constantly strive to ensure that our sport offers a safe, suitable and effective environment for everybody.

Our Safeguarding training programmes are delivered at all levels of the sport and via the network of Club Welfare Officers. This structure has recently been expanded and enhanced by new communication procedures including a monthly newsletter to raise awareness of Safeguarding issues. 

We have also recently implemented a significant increase in the number of Criminal Records Bureau checks carried out on people coming into contact with children and vulnerable adults within Rugby League. 

The RFL has previously been awarded the Intermediate Standard in Safeguarding by the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit and is working hard to achieve the Advanced Standard.

We will continue to work hard to strengthen all aspects of our Safeguarding activities so that Rugby League continues to be a safe environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults.

I trust you find this Policy a useful reference document and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who support the RFL’s work in this area.

Richard Lewis

RFL Executive Chairman

July 2008



Sport can and does have a very powerful and positive influence on people – especially children. Not only can it provide opportunities for enjoyment and achievement; it can also develop valuable qualities such as self-esteem, leadership and teamwork. These positive effects can only take place if sport is in the right hands – in the hands of those who place the welfare of all children first and adopt practices that support, protect and empower them.

The reality is that abuse, not only sexual abuse but physical and emotional abuse, as well as bullying, does take place in sport although rarely; and in some cases coaches and other trusted adults in sport have been convicted. 

The RFL is committed to working in partnership with all agencies to ensure that information and training opportunities are available to ensure and promote best practice when working with children. Adopting best practice will help to safeguard these participants from potential abuse as well as protecting coaches and other adults in positions of responsibility from allegations of abuse. The RFL Safeguarding Policy and Implementation Procedures will allow children to excel in a safe environment and transmit a reassuring signal to parents that will positively impact on participation.

This document is binding for the game as a whole and provides guidelines to everyone in Rugby League, whether working in a professional or voluntary capacity.

It is recognised that child abuse is a very emotive and difficult subject, however everyone in Rugby League has a duty of care towards children and other vulnerable players and officials and can help to protect them from abuse.

NB  Throughout this document the term child is used to cover the following groups – children, young people and vulnerable adults.


E3:1:1 Every child who plays or otherwise participates in Rugby League should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. This is the responsibility of every adult involved in rugby league.
The RFL recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children by protecting them from physical, emotional or sexual harm and from neglect or bullying.
The RFL is committed to working to provide a safe environment for all children to participate in the sport to the best of their abilities for as long as they choose to do so.
The RFL recognises that all children have a right to be protected from abuse irrespective of their sex, gender identity, race, region and faith (including no faith), disability, age, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, maternity and paternity.
The child’s welfare is paramount and will be put before other considerations such as winning matches or the success and achievement of adults or clubs or representative teams.
The RFL recognises that abuse and poor practice does take place in sport and that raising awareness and understanding of the main forms of abuse and poor practice and encouraging reporting if abuse or poor practice is suspected, will further safeguard children participating in Rugby League.


E3:1:2 - Every adult has a moral and statutory duty for the care, custody and control of any child under the age of 18 under their supervision
- The child’s welfare is paramount
- All children, whatever their age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation have the right to be protected from abuse
- All incidents, allegations or suspicions of poor practice or abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
- All children have a right to play or otherwise participate in the game of Rugby League in a safe and enjoyable environment
- All children in this context includes, but is not limited to, players, officials & volunteers, match officials, ball boys & girls, cheerleaders and dancers, pre match entertainment participants, spectators and/or visitors.
- Children have a right to expect appropriate management, support, personal and social development with regard to their involvement in the game of Rugby League, whether they are playing, volunteering or officiating in the community or professional game
- All those involved in Rugby League will be provided with appropriate policies, training and support to ensure they are able to implement this policy.


E3:1:3 Safeguarding has a broad remit within the game of Rugby League. All those involved in the management of children in Rugby League have a duty to ensure that all children are:
- Allowed access to the game in a way that is appropriate for their age and ability
- Coached and trained by appropriately qualified staff
- Not required to play in so many games, or to attend training sessions, as to become a threat to their physical or emotional well being
- Not subjected to emotional (verbal) abuse or bullying from any source, including from the touch lines (based on their age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation and references to height, weight or any other characteristics)
- Not subjected to physical abuse, bullying or undue pressure from any source
- Not subjected to sexual abuse
- Not subjected to neglect
- Not subjected to poor practice
- Encouraged to achieve their full potential at all levels
- Instructed and set examples about how to behave, both on and off the pitch
- Afforded respect in any playing and training situation and any other Rugby League environment.
- Supported by the RFL, in partnership with other agencies and community groups, to achieve the outcomes identified in the government’s ‘Every Child Matters: Change for Children’ strategy. This strategy aims to improve outcomes for all children and, through a lengthy consultation process with young people and families, identified the following key outcomes for all children and young people:
- Be healthy - physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being
- Stay safe - protection from harm and neglect
- Enjoy and achieve - education, training and recreation
- Make a positive contribution - the contribution made by them to society
- Achieve economic well-being - social and economic well-being


E3:1:4 The RFL Safeguarding Policy and associated policies and procedures have been adopted by the whole game. All individuals involved in Rugby League in England and Wales at every level, including but not limited to players, match officials, coaches, administrators, club officials, agents and spectators and all are bound to abide by this Policy, by the RESPECT Code of Conduct, by the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct and by any other applicable Code of Conduct published by the RFL. All such individuals by participating or being involved in Rugby League are deemed to have assented to and as such recognise and adhere to the principles and responsibilities embodied in this Policy & the Codes.


E3:1:5 The updated Safeguarding Regulation (Appendix 3) has been adopted by the RFL, its Members and any other relevant body in England and Wales and participation, officiating, spectating or any other involvement in the game in England and Wales is dependent on acceptance of the Rules and this Policy. To ensure clarity and consistency in the matter of issues relating to Safeguarding, BARLA has delegated responsibility to the RFL.


E3:1:6 The guidance given in the procedures is based on the following principles:
- Child - This policy recognises and builds on the legal and statutory definitions of a child, the distinction between ages of consent, civil and criminal liability are recognised but in the pursuit of good practice in the delivery and management of Safeguarding in Rugby League, a child is recognised as being under the age of 18 years (Children’s Act 2004 definition).
- Vulnerable Adult –refers to all those adults (over 18) who have a physical disability, are suffering from mental illness, have a learning disability or who, through illness or injury, are unable to provide adequately for themselves at a given point in time.
- Throughout this policy any reference to a child also applies to a young person or vulnerable adult unless otherwise stated.
- Confidentiality should be upheld in line with the Data Protection Act 1984 and the Human Rights Act 2000 with the rider that the welfare of the child is paramount.
- The term “parents” used throughout this document as a generic term to represent parents, carers and guardians.
- The term “club” is used throughout this document as a generic term to represent any Rugby League agency in charge of players under the age of 18 years or vulnerable adults and includes but is not limited to Service Areas, representative sides and Match Officials Societies.
- “Members” shall mean those organisations which are members of the RFL from time to time as listed in the RFL Memorandum of Association.


E3:1:7 The RFL’s approach to Safeguarding is based on the principles recognised within UK and international legislation and Government guidance. The following has been taken into consideration:
- The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- Working Together to Safeguard Children (DOH) 2006
- The Children Act 1989
- The Children Act 2004
- The Human Rights Act 1998
- The Sexual Offences (Amendments) Act 2000
- The Sexual Offences Act 2003
- The Police Act 1997
- The Protection of Children Act 1999
- The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- The Every Child Matters strategy 2004
- Data Protection Act 1998




The RFL and all individuals, clubs, leagues, societies, associations and other agencies involved in Rugby League will:

- Accept the moral and legal responsibility to implement procedures to provide a duty of care for children, safeguard their wellbeing and protect them from abuse and poor practice
- Respect and promote the rights, wishes and feelings of children
- Recruit, train and supervise its employees and volunteers so as to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children from abuse, and themselves against false allegations
- Require all staff and volunteers to adopt and abide by the Safeguarding Policy, the RESPECT Code of Conduct and the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct
- Respond to any allegations appropriately
- Report all concerns, allegations or disclosures to the RFL
- Recognise that it is the responsibility of the Safeguarding experts and agencies to determine whether or not abuse has taken place but it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns
- Recognise that working in partnership with children, their parents and other agencies is essential for the protection of children
- Co-operate with the statutory bodies and/or the RFL in any investigation
- Recognise the statutory responsibility of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) to ensure the welfare of children and work with the relevant LSCBs to comply with its procedures.


E3:2:2 The role of the RFL Safeguarding Officer is to:
- Take the lead role in the development and establishment of the RFL’s approach to safeguarding children, including reporting to the RFL Board and producing the RFL’s Safeguarding Policy
- Manage cases of poor practice and/or abuse reported to the RFL and keep suitable records in accordance with Data Protection Act
- Manage referrals to Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Children’s Social Care and Police as appropriate
- Be a central point of contact for internal and external agencies
- Represent the RFL at external meetings related to Safeguarding
- Co-ordinate dissemination of policy, procedures and resources throughout the organisation
- Provide advice and support to the Regional and Club Welfare Officers
- Advise on the RFL’s Safeguarding training needs and develop a training strategy
- Maintain confidentiality in cases except where to do so would put a child at significant risk
- Maintain, roll out & review the RFL Safeguarding Plan
- Ensure ‘Standards for Safeguarding & Protecting Children in Sport’ (CPSU, 2002) are met
- Attend CPSU National Designated Officer ‘Time to Listen’ training.
A full job description is shown in Appendix 4.


E3:2:3 Regional Welfare Officers are in place for each of the main geographical areas in which the game is played and in many cases are linked to the regional playing league.

Regional Welfare Officers are appointed by the RFL, have been CRB* checked at an enhanced level, are provided with a photo ID card and are trained and supported by the RFL. The role of the Regional Welfare Officers is to provide the following service within their region:
- Encourage and promote best practice
- Encourage roll out of CRB* checking
- Ensure each club has an appropriate Club Welfare Officer in post
- Promote the RFL's education opportunities
- Act as a point of contact should a member of a club have a concern or query
- Refer concerns or queries to the RFL where appropriate
- Act as an important link between the RFL and the region
- Achieve Regional Welfare Officer ‘Time to Listen’ training.


E3:2:4 All clubs must identify a designated person to be titled the Club Welfare Officer (CWO) to handle Safeguarding issues. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced CRB* check. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a photo ID card will be issued to validate the appointment.
The CWO must have a formal role on the club’s management committee and be supported by the management committee. The Club Welfare Officer will require support from the club, and designated training and support will be provided by the RFL. Clubs running a number of teams may need to appoint more than one CWO to ensure cover.
The role of the Club Welfare Officer is to:
- Ensure all coaches and significant others are CRB* checked
- Attend the ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course
- Encourage Coaches to attend the ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course
- Act as first point of contact for coaches, parents or children who may have concerns
- Report any concerns to the RFL
- Ensure the relevant club personnel are informed of any necessary information the RFL send out.
- Attend RFL Club Welfare Officer ‘Time to Listen’ training.

The CWO should have the following knowledge:
- Basic knowledge of core legislation, government guidance and national framework for Safeguarding
- Basic knowledge of roles and responsibilities of statutory agencies (Children’s Social Care, Police and Local Safeguarding Children Boards).
- Knowledge of the local arrangements for managing Safeguarding and reporting procedures.
- Be able to identify poor practice and abuse – behaviour that is harmful to children.
- Rugby League’s role and responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of children – boundaries of the Club Welfare Officer role, e.g. it is not the CWO’s role to investigate allegations; it is the duty of the CWO to report concerns in line with the RFL reporting procedures.
- Awareness of confidentiality issues especially when disclosure made and data protection.
- Rugby League’s policy and procedures related to Safeguarding children.
- Core values and principles underpinning practice.
- Awareness of equity issues and Safeguarding.
- Attend RFL Club Welfare Officer ‘Time to Listen’ training.
All of the above can be obtained through attending Safeguarding & Protecting Children training, RFL ‘Time to Listen’ training and via the regular RFL updates.
A full job description is shown in Appendix 4.


E3:2:5 All Service Areas must identify at least one designated person to be titled the Service Area Welfare Officer (SAWO) to handle Safeguarding issues. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced level CRB* check. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a photo ID card will be issued to validate the appointment.
The SAWO must have a formal role on the Service Area Steering Group and be supported by the Steering Group .The SAWO will require support from all organisations in the Service Area, designated training and support will be provided by the RFL.
The role of the SAWO is as the role of the Club Welfare Officer but within the Service Area structure. A full role description is shown in Appendix 4.


E3:2:6 All Match Officials Societies must identify at least one designated person to be titled the Match Officials Society Welfare Officer (MOSWO) to handle Safeguarding issues. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced level CRB* check. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a photo ID card will be issued to validate the appointment.
The MOSWO must have a formal role on the Match Officials Society Committee and be supported by the Committee. The MOSWO will require support from all members of the Society, designated training and support will be provided by the RFL.
The role of the MOSWO is as the role of the Club Welfare Officer but within the Match Officials Society structure. A full role description is shown in Appendix 4.




Every person, club, league or other organisation in Rugby League has a duty of care to ensure the safety and welfare of any child involved in Rugby League or related activities, to safeguard them and protect them from foreseeable forms of harm.
Safeguarding involves all involved in Rugby League acknowledging that this duty of care exists and putting practical measures in place throughout the game to minimise the likelihood of foreseeable harm arising.


E3:3:2 The following is a list of the fundamental duties of every Club to demonstrate this duty of care. Other organisations such as Service Areas, representative teams and Match Officials Societies must take the appropriate and relevant steps for their circumstances – the RFL will advise as required.

All clubs must:
- Constitutionally adopt the RFL’s Safeguarding & Protecting Children & Vulnerable Groups Policy
- Define their Club’s own Safeguarding Policy Statement
- Follow the RFL reporting procedures for concerns, allegations and disclosure
- Recruit, appoint and arrange for the training of a Club Welfare Officer who is the designated contact for Safeguarding issues
- Have a player information file to allow adults to exercise their duty of care in an emergency situation
- Adopt the RESPECT code of conduct
- Have a Safeguarding policy which everybody at the club understands and puts into practice on a daily basis.
- Ensure that the following policies & procedures exist within the Club:


- Safeguarding Policy (Appendix 5)
- Selection & Recruitment Policy (Appendix 6)
- Whistle Blowing Policy (Appendix 7)
- Health & Safety Policy (www.rfl.uk.com)
- Dressing Room Policy (Appendix 8)
- Anti Bullying Policy (Appendix A9)
- Equality Policy (Template 8)
- RESPECT (A1) & other Codes of Conduct
- 100% ME Anti-Doping Policy (Template 6)
- Confidentiality and Data Protection (Appendix 17)
- Managing Challenging Behaviour & the Use of Force

- CWO appointed & supported by Committee
- Procedures for reporting concerns of abuse or poor practice child (Appendix 12)
- Complaints & disciplinary procedures (Appendix 13)
- System for collecting player information and parental consent (Template 2)
- A forum for children to express their views
- Information for parents and children (Leaflets from RFL or www.rfl.uk.com)
- Transport & away game/tour procedures (Appendix 14 & Template 11)
- Recruitment and Selection procedures (Appendix 6 & Templates 3, 4 & 5)
All of these policies and procedures are available in the appendices and templates or as downloads from the www.rfl.uk.com (or on request from the RFL) either as completed documents or as templates for clubs to adapt to their own circumstances.


E3:3:3 Anyone may have the potential to abuse children and some sex offenders have been known to use sport as a means to access and groom children in preparation for abuse, therefore all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that people who are potential perpetrators of abuse or are otherwise unsuitable to work with children and young people due to their sexual or other behaviours are prevented from doing so. It is also important to ensure that individuals who have a record of violence or an inability to control their temper or a record of domestic violence or abuse of drugs do not have access to children. However, having a criminal record does not necessarily prohibit you from working with children. The RFL are obligated to conduct thorough risk assessments on any CRB certificates that show disclosures. All staff involved in the risk assessment process are fully trained and carry out risk assessments in line with the provisions of the RFL Policy on the Rehabilitation of Offenders. It is essential that the same procedures are used consistently for all posts whether staff or volunteers are full time or part-time.
Under the legislation in place, all individuals working on behalf of, or otherwise representing, an organisation are treated as employees whether working in a paid or voluntary capacity.
All Rugby League clubs at all levels must use the recruitment procedures set out in detail in Appendix 6 and these should be followed for all recruitment whether of staff or volunteers. Clubs should remember that these procedures should be applied to people who are already involved in the club and subsequently take on a role which gives them greater access to children (for instance a club coach moving from open age to a junior team or a parent taking on a volunteering role within the club). Clubs should ensure that those staff and volunteers already involved in the game undergo the appropriate parts of the recruitment procedures in particular self disclosure and CRB* checks, although these are only part of a safe and effective recruitment and selection procedure.
In particular pre appointment checks should be carried out including checking that the person is registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA*) scheme, carrying out Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks through the RFL and taking up references. CRB checks must be completed every three years for existing staff. Coaching staff must have their qualifications checked and their coaching badge should be inspected and the number recorded. Coaches must also be reminded that they have agreed to abide by the Coaches Code Conduct (Appendix 2) and the RESPECT Code of Conduct (Appendix 1). Coaches (and volunteers where relevant) should be given copies of these documents
Once volunteers and staff are in place it is essential that their behaviour and performance is monitored and feedback given (Template 4). Club Management should be sensitive to any concerns about poor practice or abuse and act on them at an early stage following the guidelines in this document. The Club management should also offer appropriate support, through liaison with the RFL Safeguarding Officer and/or the Regional Welfare Officer, to those who report concerns/complaints.

* * As part of the implementation of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, all individuals who are currently required to undertake an enhanced CRB check will also be required to register as members of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) scheme once this is rolled out in late 2009. The RFL Safeguarding Officer will ensure that information relating to this process will be disseminated to all clubs and designated persons once it becomes available to the RFL.


E3:3:4 The following is a non exhaustive list of the general principles of good practice with children:
- Treating all children equally, and with respect and dignity
- Promoting a culture which ensures children are listened to and respected as individuals
- Always putting the welfare of each child first, before winning or achieving goals;
- Making rugby league fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play
- Ensuring that all disciplinary sanctions are proportionate to age and do not involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation
- Physical exertion, e.g. running around the pitch should not be used as a method of punishment
- Always working in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment (e.g. no secrets)
- Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance, both physical and emotional, with children
- Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children to share in the decision-making process
- Not having sexual relationships with children at the club including 16 or 17 year olds if you are in a position of trust (this includes all coaches and other staff or volunteers at a club)
- Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children whilst undertaking any role within an RFL setting, promoting a healthy diet and condemning the use of illegal and performance enhancing substances
The appendices to this Policy cover specific best practice guidelines including those for coaching, travelling with children, changing rooms, photographic & DVD policy, medical/physio treatment of children and many more.


E3:3:5 Equality protects people from being discriminated against on the grounds of group membership i.e. gender, race, age, disability, religious beliefs, faith and sexual orientation. It is based on the legal obligation to comply with anti-discrimination legislation. For more information on relevant Equality legislation please contact the Equality and Diversity Manager at Red Hall.
Diversity is recognising, valuing and respecting the diversity of each individual. Diversity encompasses visible and non-visible differences which may include, but are not limited to, differences protected by anti-discrimination legislation.
All employees and volunteers should guard against making assumptions about an individual’s identity based on stereotypes. As well as being inappropriate it can be very misleading making it less likely that a worker will be able to identify any problems or concerns or gain the trust and respect of the individuals that they are working with.
Why is a commitment to Equality and Diversity essential?
1. It is morally the right thing to do – both in terms of each individual’s wellbeing and the wider reputation of the club as a safe and welcoming environment
2. It makes good business sense – if a club is seen to be inclusive, to challenge inequality and discrimination and to ensure the safety and well being of all participants – there will be increased participation particularly among under represented groups and a greater likelihood that participants will stay involved
3. Legal responsibility – if a child experiences discrimination, victimisation or harassment based on their gender, race, disability, religious beliefs, faith, age or sexual orientation the club could face legal proceedings which are costly in terms of possible fines as well as a damaging loss of reputation


E3:3:6 It is essential that a sufficient number of individuals within the club have a basic level of Safeguarding knowledge. The current course which gives this knowledge is ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ (SPC.) This course is a sports coach UK course which can be used as a continuing professional development (CPD) element for coaches. SPC is strongly recommended for all volunteers and coaches who work with children.

The key learning outcomes of SPC are:
- To identify and recognise good practice and the implications for coaching
- Explore values and feelings in relation to child abuse and recognise the potential impact on how an individual would respond
- Recognise and respond to signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and bullying
- To ensure individuals are confident enough to take appropriate action when necessary.
CWOs need more knowledge than other volunteers in order for them to be as effective as possible in fulfilling their role and responsibilities. This knowledge is imparted through the ‘Time To Listen’ (TTL) course. This course was designed by the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit and has been amended by the RFL to reflect practices within the game. Although this course is primarily aimed at CWOs, other volunteers are more than welcome to attend in order to increase their knowledge.

The key learning outcomes of TTL are:
- To be able to describe the key elements of legislation and guidance, which are relevant to their role in Safeguarding children’s welfare
- To be able to define the specific roles and responsibilities of statutory agencies and Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, and how they will relate to these agencies in individual cases of poor practice and abuse
- To be able to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the Club Welfare Officer and it’s relationship to the Regional Welfare Officer and RFL Lead Safeguarding Officer
- To give CWOs confidence in how their role will work in practice
- Understanding of the RFL reporting procedures.

Please contact the RFL Safeguarding Team for details of education opportunities.


E3:3:7 Coaches & other volunteers may have to deal with challenging behaviour from the children or young people in their care. It is important that those involved in youth and junior Rugby League are aware of the RFL’s Policy for Managing Challenging Behaviour which is attached at Appendix 18.
This Policy aims to encourage good practice, suggest some strategies and sanctions which can be used and identify unacceptable sanctions or interventions which must never be used.
The Policy is based on the following principles:
- The welfare of the child is paramount
- All those involved in the sport including children, coaches & volunteers should have clear guidelines about the standard of behaviour which is expected and the processes for dealing with behaviour which is unacceptable
- Children must never be subject to any form of treatment that is harmful, abusive, humiliating or degrading
- Some children’s behaviour may be caused by medical or psychological conditions. Coaches & volunteers may need additional help including discussing the child’s needs with parents and/or carers and possibly from external agencies that already support that child
- Rugby League can be a beneficial experience for all children and children should only be excluded from the sport in exceptional cases.




It is essential that all adults involved with children in Rugby League understand what constitutes abuse and/or poor practice and how to recognise it and how to respond to disclosures and allegations (see Section 5). Abuse and poor practice are very emotive and difficult subjects, however it is important that they are discussed openly at clubs as this helps create an environment where people are more aware of the issues and sensitive to the needs of children. This open environment also gives people more confidence in recognising abuse and /or poor practice and reacting to it.
Child abuse can and does occur outside the family setting. Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. The staff and volunteers in Rugby League, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity, are not experts at such recognition. However, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or another child) towards a child and to follow the procedures set out in Section 5 of this document.


E3:4:2 All those involved in rugby league need to be aware that some children can be more vulnerable to abuse because of their needs and background.

4.2.1 Children - Disability
Disabled Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:

- Require intimate personal care
- Experience negative attitudes and abuse due to their disability
- May be ignored and excluded from activities if people fail to recognise that it is the barriers that society puts up which prevent their involvement not their disability per se
- May be dependent on their abuser for care
- Be less able to resist either verbally or physically
- Have a smaller network of friends to support and protect them
- Lack access to peer groups to discover what is acceptable behaviour
- Have significant communication difficulties including the use of sign language
- Be more likely to have their verbal or non verbal communication misinterpreted as relating to their disability rather than abusive experiences
- Have medical needs which may be used to explain abuse.

4.2.2 Children - Minority ethnic groups
Children from minority ethnic groups may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:

- Experience racism and racist attitudes
- Expect to be ignored by people in authority due to experience of institutionalised racism
- Be afraid of further abuse or racist abuse if they challenge others
- Be subjected to myths based on racial stereotyping
- Want to fit in and not want to make a fuss
- Be using or learning English as a second language and therefore find it more difficult to communicate.

4.2.3 Children - religion and faith
Children from various religions and faiths may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:

- Experience religious intolerance, fear or hatred based on their religious beliefs
- Be subjected to myths based on stereotypes
- Suffer bullying or assumptions about their commitment to the game due to their religious beliefs and practices
- Be discriminated against, harassed or bullied based on their actual or perceived religious beliefs due to fear of religious extremism.

4.2.4 Children - sexual orientation
Children are often aware of their sexuality from an early age and many children may already identify as being lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). LGB Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:

- Be subjected to homophobia – which includes bullying abuse or physical attacks
- Have their experiences as LGB children rendered invisible by heterosexist attitudes and assumptions which assumes that everyone is heterosexual and that this is preferable to being gay.

4.2.5 Children - gender
When thinking about danger signs of grooming it is important to recognise that although more girls are groomed and/or sexually abused, this can also happen to boys. Girls in Rugby League may be subjected to bullying by boys and other girls with assumptions made relating to their sexuality or sexual orientation because of their involvement in playing a competitive contact sport such as Rugby League. Such assumptions or stereotypes are wholly inappropriate and should not be condoned as they may increase the vulnerability of some children to abuse.

It is important that both girls and boys are accorded the same levels of respect by all those working with them and should not be treated unequally because of their gender

4.2.6 Children who take on leadership roles
More and more children are taking on leadership and volunteering roles within Rugby League. This should be an enjoyable and positive experience. Unfortunately some adults (coaches, parents, volunteers) lose sight of the fact that an individual in a leadership role who is under 18 is still legally a child.

Many children, referees in particular, suffer verbal, physical and emotional abuse in leadership roles. This is unacceptable in Rugby League and the harm that is caused to these children needs to be recognised by adults within the game. Many young officials become disillusioned at best or suffer a significant and lasting loss of confidence when faced with verbal or emotional abuse of this nature. Some young match officials have even suffered physical abuse or threats from coaches and spectators which is unacceptable in Rugby League.

4.2.7 Reducing the potential for vulnerability
Given the increased vulnerability of some groups of children it is important that clubs create a safe culture including:
- Finding ways of understanding and communicating with all children
- Ensuring best practice at all times in physical and health care
- Develop knowledge of the diverse cultures within which a club is based
- Respecting and valuing diversity
- Building relationships with parents and carers and include them in club activities
- Observing changes in mood, appearance and behaviour and discuss those concerns with families, carers, the CWO, the Regional Welfare Officer or RFL Safeguarding Officer if suspicions or concerns are significantly raised about the care or welfare of the child
- Acknowledging that disabled children are additionally vulnerable and that vigilance is essential
- Acknowledging that abusive behaviour directed towards a child who is carrying out a leadership role is not acceptable and reporting such behaviour to the RFL Safeguarding Officer as abuse or poor practice
- Ensuring that the RESPECT code of conduct is enforced at the club
- Making sure that all club officials set good examples of behaviour at all times


E3:4:3 Any person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or institutional or club environment by people known to them or more rarely by a stranger. Children can be abused by adults or by other children.
The effects of abuse can be extremely damaging and if allowed to continue or left unacknowledged may follow a person into adulthood. For instance a person who has been abused as a child may find it difficult to maintain stable or trusting relationships, may suffer from low self esteem or self harm, may become involved in drugs or prostitution, may attempt suicide and may inflict the same behaviour on to other children in future.

4.3.1 Categories of Abuse
Physical Abuse
A child is physically hurt or injured by an adult or an adult gives drugs or alcohol to a child.
A child’s basic physical needs are consistently not met or they are regularly left alone or unsupervised.
Sexual Abuse
An adult or peer uses a child to meet their own sexual needs.
Emotional Abuse
An adult persistently criticises, denigrates or puts unrealistic expectations on a child or subjects them to abuse due to their gender, race, age, disability, religion and faith and sexual orientation.
An adult or peer persistently or repeatedly uses hostile and/or intimidating behaviour towards a child.
Appendix 11 contains a detailed information sheet about categories of abuse and how to recognise them and Appendix 9 contains the RFL Anti Bullying Policy.

4.3.2 Poor Practice
Poor practice is the term used to describe practice which falls below the standards expected to such an extent that a child’s welfare is compromised and is where an adult’s or another child’s behaviour is inappropriate and may be causing concern to a child. In application of this Policy, poor practice includes any behaviour of a Safeguarding nature which contravenes the RESPECT Code of Conduct (Appendix 1) or Coaches Code of Conduct (Appendix 2), infringes an individual’s rights and/ or is a failure to fulfil the highest standards of care. Poor practice is unacceptable in Rugby League and will be treated seriously and appropriate actions taken.

Some examples are likely to be:
- Insufficient care is taken to avoid injuries e.g. by excessive training or inappropriate training for the age or maturity, experience and ability of players;
- Giving continued and unnecessary preferential treatment to individuals and regularly or unfairly rejecting others e.g. singling out and focusing on the talented players or the coach’s own children or not having a fair team selection policy; winning should not be the over-riding factor.
- Placing children in potentially compromising and uncomfortable situations with adults
- Allowing abusive or concerning practices to go unchallenged and unreported e.g. failing to deal with or report a coach who ridicules or swears at players who make a mistake during a match
- Ignoring health and safety rules
- Failing to adhere to the game’s RESPECT or other codes of conduct
- Failing to act to prevent one child harming or abusing another
- Issuing disciplinary sanctions which are not proportionate to age and/or involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation

4.3.3 Practice Never to be Sanctioned
No one involved in the game should ever:
- Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay
- Share a room with a child
- Shower with a child
- Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching
- Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged
- Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun
- Reduce a child to tears as a form of control
- Allow allegations made by a child go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon;
- Do things of a personal nature for children, young people or disabled adults, that they can do for themselves
- Take a child or children to their home where they will be alone with them.
- Invite or allow a child or children to stay with them at their home unsupervised

N.B It may sometimes be necessary for staff or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or have a disability. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents and the players involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependant on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly true if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
If any of the following incidents should occur, you should report them immediately to another colleague and make a written note of the event. This action should be taken as soon as possible for the protection of all individuals concerned. Parents should also be informed of the incident:
- If you accidentally hurt a player
- If he/she seems distressed in any manner
- If a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions
- If a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done


E3:4:4 “The inequality at the heart of a relationship of trust should be ended before any sexual relationship begins.”Caring for young people and the Vulnerable - Guidance for preventing abuse of trust (Home Office 1999)
This statement recognises that genuine relationships do occur between the different levels of volunteers and participants in a group but that no intimate relationship should begin whilst the member of staff or volunteer is in a ‘position of trust’ over them. The power and influence that an older member of staff has over someone attending a group or activity cannot be under-estimated. If there is an additional competitive aspect to the activity and the older person is responsible for the child’s success or failure to some extent, then the dependency of the younger member upon the older will be increased. It is therefore vital for volunteers to recognise these issues and to ensure that they do not abuse their positions of trust. Children aged 16 can legally consent to sexual activity; however, in some provisions of legislation they are classified as children, and within this Safeguarding Policy it is misconduct for any volunteer or employee to enter into a sexual relationship with any child under the age of 18 involved in any way in Rugby League.
If you engage in an intimate or inappropriate relationship with a child with whom you are in a relationship of trust, regardless of whether they are legally able to consent or not, it is breach of the Safeguarding Policy and the Rugby League Code of Conduct and as such will result in disciplinary action.
In certain circumstances the ‘abuse of trust’ is a criminal offence (Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2000, Sexual Offences Act 2003).


E3:4:5 The majority of adults working with children in Rugby League are committed to providing an enjoyable and safe environment in which to participate. However, a small proportion of adults actively seek opportunities to abuse children for their own sexual needs.
Sexual abuse of children is the result of a pre-meditated actions that are carefully planned. Preparing a child or organisation (i.e a Club) is described as ‘grooming’ and is illegal under the provisions of The Sexual Offences Act 2003. It is important to understand how an abuser can ‘groom’ a club or parents or a child by appearing trustworthy and helpful, therefore giving the impression that they can take responsibility for a young person/some young people.
Abusers come from all sections of society, within and outside of the family and within and outside Rugby League. They may be perceived as ‘respectable’ people – the very last person anyone could suspect of abusing a child; this is usually the image they work hard to portray. Research into abuse demonstrates clearly that children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and who is likely to be in a position of trust with the child. Whilst the vast majority of sexual abusers are male, it is important not to overlook the fact that female sexual abusers do exist.

Sexual abusers use various techniques to ‘groom’ children, organizations and parents. These include:
- Seeking opportunities to be in contact with children, e.g. volunteering.
- Making friends with children, coaches, volunteers or parents
- Appearing trustworthy and helpful
- Giving presents to children or offering additional individual support/coaching
- Complimenting the child to make them feel comfortable and confident.
- Threatening (you wont get picked for the team) or bribing (you will get picked for the team) the child
- Telling the child that it’s normal

Abusers target children who they see as particularly vulnerable, this may be due to the child having low self-esteem or it appearing that they have little parental support. Therefore, children’s parents should always be encouraged to be part of the club as this can act as an extra safeguard.
There are particular risks for talented children and these children are more at risk of abuse on ‘away trips’. These risks are particularly acute at the point at which an athlete is at ‘pre-peak’ performance. These risks relate to:

- Separation from close family and friends– due to amount of ‘away’ travel and possibly living away from home
- Dependence on the coach for team selection, advice, emotional support, money.
- Lack of safeguards away from home such as lack of checks on accommodation practices
- Too much emphasis on winning and high performance and not enough on personal development and enjoyment. This environment can sometimes be condoned by parents.
Any concerns relating to an adult’s behaviour or intentions towards children should be reported appropriately, see Section 5 which deals with reporting relating to Reporting Concerns.




There is a legal and moral responsibility to report any concerns about a child within Rugby League and any concerns which may be raised about a child outside the sport. Child abuse of all types, particularly sexual abuse, can generate strong and confusing emotions in those facing such a situation for instance disbelief, disgust, anger etc. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about any action to take. Abuse and poor practice can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment.
It is understood that people may often have concerns about reporting the behaviour of adults who are aggressive and potentially violent. Where possible the RFL will protect the identity of the person who has reported an incident when they feel threatened by the individual concerned. It should be remembered that if these individuals are intimidating to other adults they are likely to be even more intimidating to any children within their care and that there is a duty of care to report such behaviour.
Rugby League clubs are often close communities which generate strong loyalties between the volunteers working together. The RFL appreciates that it can be difficult to report close colleagues but would remind all those involved in the game of their over riding moral duty to ensure the welfare of the children at the club above any sense of loyalty to colleagues or the club. All suspicions of abuse or cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.
A coach, official or volunteer may have regular contact with children and be an important link in the identifying cases where a child needs protection. In addition coaches can often become the only adult that a child feels they can trust. This can often lead to a coach receiving a disclosure about abuse outside the club environment. In these circumstances there is a duty to pass on the information and coaches and other volunteers need to be aware of the action to take in these circumstances.


E3:5:2 The RFL is determined to ensure that the culture of the sport is one in which it is safe, acceptable and gives confidence to those involved in rugby league to raise concerns about unacceptable practice and misconduct. In order to achieve this, the RFL has a Whistle Blowing Policy which is attached at Appendix 7. The RFL rules make it an offence to harass or victimise a whistle blower.


E3:5:3 The flow charts set out in Appendix 12 set out in detail the principles to be followed if:
- An allegation, suspicion or disclosure of poor practice or abuse is made within the game; or
- An allegation, suspicion or disclosure of abuse is made from outside the game.
The points below set out general principles to be followed with all concerns, allegations and disclosures.


E3:5:4 If a child informs you directly that he/she, or another child, is concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them (this is termed a ‘disclosure’) then:
The person receiving the information should:
- React calmly so as not to frighten or deter the child
- Believe what the child is telling you
- Tell the child he/she is not to blame and that he/she was right to tell
- Ensure the immediate safety of the child
- If the child needs immediate medical treatment, take them to hospital or telephone for an ambulance, inform doctors of the concerns and make sure that they know that this is a Safeguarding issue
- Take what the child says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child who has speech disability and/or differences in language
- Keep any questions to the minimum required to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said
- Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions about what may have happened
- Reassure the child but do not make promises of confidentiality which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments
- In the event of suspicion of sexual abuse do not let the child shower or wash until given permission to do so by the police as washing can destroy valuable evidence
- Where appropriate seek advice immediately from Children’s Social Care or Police who will advise on the action to be taken, including advice on contacting parents, Expert advice can also be provided by the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or Childline on 0800 1111 (both 24 hours).
- Alternatively contact the RFL Safeguarding Team
- Involve somebody else – if not Children’s Social Care or Police then the Club Welfare Officer, Regional Welfare Officer or the RFL Safeguarding Officer so that you can begin to protect the child and gain support for yourself.
- Write down the details of the concern, incident and/or what the child has disclosed as soon as possible, including details of who this information has been shared with and when.

The person receiving the information should NOT:
- Panic
- Allow their shock or distaste to show
- Show any disbelief or fail to take the allegations seriously
- Ask questions other than to clarify that they have enough information to act
- Speculate or make assumptions
- Make negative comments about alleged abuser
- Approach the alleged abuser
- Make promises or agree to keep secrets
- Take sole responsibility
- Shirk the responsibility to report the concern


E3:5:5 Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. The legal principle that the “welfare of the child is paramount” means that considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations within the organisation should not be allowed to override the right of children to be protected from harm.
However every effort must be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained when an allegation has been made and is being investigated.
Information should be handled and disseminated on a ‘need to know’ basis only. This may include the following people:
- The Club Welfare Officer;
- The Regional Welfare Officer;
- The RFL Safeguarding Officer, the RFL Compliance Manager;
- The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused (only following advice from the Children’s Social Care/Police or where the abuse does not involve the family );
- The person making the allegation;
- Children’s Social Care/LSCB/Police;
- The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a young person) only following advice from the Children’s Social Care/Police.
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with the data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).


E3:5:6 Information passed to Children’s Social Care or the Police must be as helpful as possible, hence the necessity for making a detailed record at the time of the disclosure/concern. Ideally this information should be compiled utilising the Incident Referral Form at Template 10
Information required at the referral stage:
Child - Age/ gender / name / disabilities / address / contact details / parental responsibility / culture / agencies already working with the family / relationship between child and accused.
Accused - Name / address / contact details/ position – employee / volunteer / paid / level of coach; Any other allegations; Marital status; Age; Previous incidents.
Primary evidence
Core information about the alleged incident.

  1. Facts from the person making the allegation including dates/times/venue/witness details;
  2. Records with dates;
  3. Has anyone else been informed or is anyone else already involved in the investigation.

Reporting the matter to the Police or Children’s Social Care should not be delayed by attempts to obtain more information. The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) should be informed of any concerns relating to suspected abuse of a position of trust either directly or via the statutory agencies (LSCB /Children’s’ Social Care/ Police) as soon as possible. Wherever possible, referrals telephoned to Children’s Social Care, the Police or the LSCB should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours. A record should also be made of the name and job title of the Children’s Social Care or the LSCB member of staff or Police Officer whom the concerns were passed, together with the time and date of the call, in case any follow up is needed. Any information forwarded to the Children’s Social Care, the LSCB or Police should also be provided to the RFL Safeguarding Officer so that they can consider any wider issues within the game.


E3:5:7 5.7.1 Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) have statutory duty under The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children and Young People’ (DoH, 1999) to ensure the welfare of children and work with all agencies to comply with its procedures.
Children can only be safeguarded properly if the key agencies work effectively together. Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are designed to help ensure that this happens. They put the former Area Child Protection Committees (ACPCs) on a statutory footing.
The core membership of LSCBs is set out in the Children Act 2004, and includes local authorities, health bodies, the police and others. The objective of LSCBs is to coordinate and to ensure the effectiveness of their member agencies in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children requires effective co-ordination in every local area. For this reason, the Children Act 2004 requires each Local Authority to establish a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
The LSCB is the key statutory mechanism for agreeing how the relevant organisations in each local area will co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in that locality, and for ensuring the effectiveness of what they do.
In accordance with statutory guidance, every Local Authority will have a Designated Officer (LADO) who is responsible for providing advice, liaison and monitoring the progress of cases where allegations have been made against people who work with children (Working Together to Safeguard Children. A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children [HM Government, 2006], appendix 5). The LADO should be informed either directly, or via Children’s Social Care/the Police if they are involved, of all allegations that come to the RFL’s attention and appear to meet the following criteria:
- an individual is alleged to have behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
- an individual is alleged to have possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or,
- an individual is alleged to have behaved in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children.
5.7.2 Children’s Social Care (previously Social Services) have a statutory duty to ensure the welfare of children and to work with the LSCB to comply with its procedures. When a Safeguarding referral is made, the Children’s Social Care staff has a legal responsibility to make enquires where a child who lives or is found in their area is considered to be at risk of, or actually suffering from, significant harm. This may involve talking to the child and family, and gathering information from other people who know the child. Enquires may be carried out jointly with the Police where a crime has been alleged. If action needs to be taken urgently and out of office hours, then the Police will deal with the enquiry sensitively and effectively. Children’s Social Care will link in closely with their respective LSCB and cross-reference the guidance produced by the LSCB.
5.7.3 Police Child & Public Protection Units investigate all cases of abuse against children that occurs within family relationships, by professionals or carers and cases of organised abuse. The Units also investigate the activity of people who use the internet and other means to distribute or collect abusive and indecent images of children.
Units are also responsible for dealing with individuals who are registered sex offenders, under the terms of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 and other offenders who are regarded as a potential danger to the community.
Units works jointly with a range of other agencies, but primarily Children’s Social Care in relation to Child Abuse and the National Probation Service, in relation to Sex and Other Dangerous Offenders.
The staff in the Units are specially selected for their skills in dealing with complex and sensitive crime and receive comprehensive initial training and a period of tutorship with an experienced Unit member. The training includes methods of obtaining evidence from vulnerable victims and witnesses, the preservation and security of forensic samples and other specialist training on how to investigate child abuse and sex offences.
Where clubs are made aware by any of the statutory agencies that their club or a volunteer or child at their club is subject to a Safeguarding investigation by either Children’s Social Care, the LSCB or the Police the club should always inform the RFL immediately. The RFL may have to take immediate action to protect the welfare of children but will always work in tandem with the statutory bodies.


E3:5:8 In the case of alleged abuse or poor practice the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group (SCMG) will:
- Decide there is no risk and reject the complaint or concern and inform the complainant of their decision;
- Decide that the Club or League concerned should deal with the complaint as an internal matter in which case the Club or League shall keep the SCMG informed of its decision and any action taken;
- Decide to have an initial investigation of the complaint investigated and refer it to a Compliance Investigator for an initial report;
- Decide to inform the person or club against who the complaint has been made and order a full investigation in which case the SCMG may decide to impose a Temporary Suspension Order (TSO) while the investigation is being carried out
- Refer the concern to the statutory agencies

The RFL has a team of Compliance Investigators, some of whom have specific Safeguarding experience, who will be used to carry out an investigation and report to the SCMG. Following the investigation the SCMG will consider the Compliance Investigator’s report and decide on the course of action to take which includes one or more of the following options:
- Decide that there is no case to answer
- Decide that the person against whom the complaint was made should attend further training within a specified time period
- Decide that a warning as to future conduct is sufficient (regardless of whether there is a finding of guilt)
- Decide that an undertaking as to future conduct is sufficient
- Decide that the case be referred to a hearing of the RFL Operational Rules Tribunal under Section D1 of the Operational Rules in which case a TSO may be imposed until the hearing
- Refer the concern to the statutory agencies.
Where the Police and/or Children’s Social Care and/or LSCB are involved in a case the RFL SCMG will liaise with the statutory bodies and may impose a TSO or defer any action until the statutory bodies have completed their work. Irrespective of the findings of Children’s Social Care, the LSCB or Police enquiries, the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group will assess all individual cases to decide whether action should be taken by the RFL. This will follow the procedures set out in Appendix 3
The welfare of the child will always remain paramount.

The appeals procedure set out under the rules is available to anyone under investigation in line with the principles of natural justice.
The full Safeguarding Regulations are set out in Appendix 3.


E3:5:9 Consideration should be given about what support may be appropriate to children, parents and members of staff and volunteers. Use of Help Lines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process. The British Association of Counselling Directory may be a useful resource. The RFL can advise on counselling options.


E3:5:10 Consideration should be given about what support may be appropriate to the alleged perpetrator of the abuse. The RFL will provide alleged perpetrators with a support package.


E3:5:11 Indications that a child may be being abused include the following:
- Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, cuts or burns, particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to such injuries
- An injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent
- The child describes what appears to be an abusive act involving him/her
- Someone else (a child or adult) expresses concern about the welfare of another child
- Unexplained changes in behaviour (e.g. becoming very quiet, withdrawn or displaying sudden outbursts of temper)
- Inappropriate sexual awareness
- Engaging in sexually explicit behaviour
- Distrust of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would normally be expected
- Has difficulty in making friends
- Is prevented from socialising with other children
- Displays variations in eating patterns including overeating or loss of appetite
- Loses weight for no apparent reason
- Becomes increasingly dirty or unkempt.
It should be recognised that this list is not exhaustive and the presence of one or more of the indicators is not proof that abuse is actually taking place. A good working relationship with parents will help to identify any concerns that a child may be experiencing, e.g. family bereavement.
It is not the responsibility of those working in Rugby League to decide that child abuse is occurring but it is their responsibility to act.
Appendices & Templates are available on www.rfl.uk.com or on request from the RFL.