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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
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    On the WSR such a group is known as "Trackers" as described here: West Somerset Railway - The longest Heritage Railway in England. (west-somerset-railway.co.uk) under volunteering
     
  2. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Agreed, but they have to be managed very carefully.

    The Heritage Railway Association has provided updated guidance to its members and is pressing for a change in the Law that currently makes it technically a criminal offence to allow any child ( under 18) to work on a railway. even as a volunteer. The Office of Road and Rail, as the potential enforcing authority, has confirmed it would not prosecute but it would be open to the railway's Local Authority to do so though that is thought to be unlikely. Insurers are unlikely to refuse to provide cover but it's prudent to check.

    It means that the railway should be very careful how young volunteers are managed with rigorous attention to the use of DBS checks and implementation of a suitable Safeguarding Policy. Care is need to prevent unsupervised one to one situations occurring and to avoid young volunteers taking part in unsuitable work. It's probably safe to assume that no one under 18 should be allowed to volunteer unsupervised in a safety critical role.

    Some railways have taken the view that until the Law is changed they will not allow under 18's to volunteer. Others looked at the purpose of the legislation which was to protect children against exploitation. Provided youth groups focus on the life enhancing benefits to their members e.g creating self confidence, social interaction, acquiring skills etc., and any benefit to the railway from their activities is secondary, a properly managed youth group may be a risk worth taking.
     
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  3. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    Wow, as bad as that, is it?
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Oddly enough, we just had a missive re-iterating our guidance for volunteers under 18 (our youth group starts aged 9) and it is what you’d expect, emphasis on safeguarding, parental or adult supervision etc.

    As fas a I am aware, the blocker on having more young volunteers is not a lack of prospective recruits, but a lack of suitable supervisors / mentors.

    Tom
     
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  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Where safeguarding policies are concerned, yes. Not in a railway context, but all of the safeguarding briefings and training I've had has emphasised the need to avoid 1-2-1 situations.

    What may also be relevant is that the legislation on safeguarding is not just about under 18s. "Vulnerable adults" are entitled to just the same protection, and their well being will also raise genuine issues for how they are looked after and supervised.

    And, to @Jamessquared's point, getting enough parents to act as supervisors/mentors/chaperones is not easy - it's a commitment on their part, and if they have children doing multiple activities, one that's likely to be asked for in several places.
     
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  6. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    One problem is now that anyone involved with safeguarding has to undergo DBS checks, which can for whatever reason put people off from taking on such a role, because of a possible error of judgement in their past, or to in some cases to, hide their past.
     
  7. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    DBS checks aren't that useful - they just mean someone hasn't been caught yet.
     
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  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    They are from a "covering your arse" point of view though. Who exactly needs to be DBS checked though? Obviously the people running the youth group. But what if they were to spend a morning in the workshop doing some light painting duties - would the C&W rep showing them what to do on that day need to be DBS checked? What about any other volunteers who happened to be around doing whatever they were doing at the time?

    PS apologies, it's my fault we've gone off topic, maybe split it off mods?
     
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  9. Paul Grant

    Paul Grant Member

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    Certainly a problem with the scouts.
     
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  10. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    By extension, logically your position on folk without an overdue library book or parking fine to their name is the same? I think I've a right to know concerning just what you think I've managed to evade capture and remain at large .... before I go to all the trouble of sharpening my pitchfork and getting done for carrying an offensive weapon! :Rage:
     
  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    The problem with DBS is the way that it encourages blind confidence in certificates and generates a cottage industry in providing and obtaining them.

    I have three volunteer roles where I require DBS certification. In none of them do I have a role where I am expected to work with children or vulnerable adults, and none of them are interchangeable in any way. They all also require renewal every three years or so.

    As a volunteer organisation, my church benefits from a central administration through the diocese, but it’s still significant workload for the administrator to keep track of.

    That’s before you start thinking about the practicalities of managing a safeguarding culture, and ensuring that safeguarding practice is robustly maintained.

    Given all that, I would think very hard indeed about the costs and benefits of taking on what this requires, and the short term costs would weigh significantly heavier on my mind than the long term benefits.


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  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Presumably also the circumvention of laws requiring them in the first place. It's an utter minefield, before one so much as considers that on some occasions, it'll be the adults who could really use protection from certain of the more 'streetwise' children. Most certainly one of those areas concerning which I'm eternally relieved to bear no legal responsibility whatsoever.

    It's a dreadful 'truism' that whilst for folks to whom the very notion of such appalling abuses of trust is utterly alien, they may view provisions of child protection (or actually any) law as a near physical barrier ... one which most would baulk at the notion of glancing towards, far less approaching, whilst to those so disposed, the same protections seem to represent more of a challenge than any impediment.
     
  13. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Sorry, my comment was a bit harsh and badly worded. @35B has explained it a lot better. They're not the be all and end all that people think they are. It leads in a way to people believing that only decent people will be working with children or vulnerable adults. But it's a criminal record check - if you haven't got a criminal record then it won't find anything. How many historical reports of abuse appear many years after they happened? To use the most extreme example possible, it seems Jimmy Savile would've passed a DBS check as he was never arrested or properly investigated for anything!
     
  14. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And there you capture both the weakness of current law (remember, CRB was introduced in response to the Soham murders, where existing intelligence properly used could arguably have prevented Ian Huntley getting the caretaker job), and the misconceptions that surround safeguarding.

    Because I have DBS clearance, I was able to volunteer as a chaperone for a choir day trip over the summer. For this, and the week away that it was part of, to go ahead required significant data collection about the children, and then sharing of important information about some of them with the chaperones so that we could respond to their needs. That’s before minor trivia like risk assessments, planning the day, ensuring the groups worked, and such liken

    None of this was focused on protection from abuse, and most of it was a matter of applied common sense. But it took significant work from a trained volunteer with professional experience to pull together, and then maintain.


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  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Absolutely no need for any apology. I feel I may owe you one for my conciously literal reading of your post. In no small way, all recent posts on the matter are illustrative in microcosm of just one aspect of the entire quagmire of matters relating to child protection.
     
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  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Well, the obvious answer is, what does your railway's safeguarding policy say?

    But to take an example from our scheme, from time to time we have 9F club members working, under supervision, in the loco yard. When that happens and I am the running foreman (in overall charge of the yard on the day) I don't have to have a DBS check, nor do any of the other yard staff; the protection for the young volunteers being afforded by the 9F adult team leaders who are DBS checked. So I think in the scenario you outline, the C&W workshop supervisor wouldn't need a DBS check provided the young volunteers were adequately supervised by their own youth group team leader (or parent / guardian, in individual cases). Those responsible adults would, in addition to DBS, also need the appropriate competences within your own railway scheme to be present in any particular location. Anything more would probably be considered onerous. But ultimately the answer should be in your own railway’s policies / SMS.

    Tom
     
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  17. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Which seems like a sensible policy, and sign of a thought through approach by the Bluebell. Which emphasises the time and effort that's required to get there.
    Just a brief note on the last point, there are levels of DBS clearance, some of which reach beyond a simple criminal records check.
     
  18. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line New Member

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    Lord Faulkner is trying to push through a bill to make it easier for young people to legally volunteer on Heritage Railways, just had I believe another reading in House of Lords.
     
  19. gwilialan

    gwilialan Well-Known Member

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    For info there are three levels of DBS, Basic, Standard and Enhanced. There is also an Enhanced Barred list where checks are made if the individual is on any barred list and notes can be added (if it is considered appropriate) regarding any police or official body actions even if no court action was taken against the individual.
    A DBS certificate is the property of the individual, not the sponsoring organisation but don't be surprised if one organisation will not accept your DBS (even if it is of a higher standard than they require) simply because you didn't apply through them - you don't have to but such is the confusion about this. The only time you have to apply via an organisation is where an fully enhanced DBS is necessary eg. for working with organisations such as the NHS.
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    A note from my experience on the requirement for a new DBS is that many organisations are reluctant to take an "old" DBS applied for with a different intent, as they are concerned that it may be obsolete and/or not be focused on the areas of concern to them.
     

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