Donate Sponsor

Our safeguarding policy

Safeguarding mission statement

Cats Protection (CP) is committed to safeguarding children and adults at risk and protecting anyone that comes into contact with us from harm.

As a socially responsible organisation we will not tolerate abuse, neglect and/or exploitation wherever it occurs or whoever is responsible. Cats Protection recognises that safeguarding is a priority. We will adopt the highest standards of safeguarding practice across all areas of our work.

Safeguarding at Cats Protection

Safeguarding means protecting the rights of adults to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.

It means protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of health or development; ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable them to have the best outcomes.

In line with the wider safeguarding expectations of the Charity Commission we are committed to ensuring that every person who works for us, volunteers with us or comes into contact with our charity will be treated with dignity and respect. We value and promote wellbeing and good mental health and will do everything possible to maintain an environment conducive to both.

Scope of the policy

This policy applies to all trustees, employees, volunteers and contractors and underpins all of the charity’s activities, both in person and across our digital spaces.

Safeguarding legislation is a devolved matter and each of the four UK nations has its own legislation and statutory guidance. This policy has been developed in accordance with the requirements and principles established by the relevant legislation and statutory guidance in each of the four UK nations.



In England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Wales a child is defined as ‘any person under the age of 18, whether living with their families, in state care or living independently’

In Scotland, the definition of a child varies in different legal contexts, but statutory guidance which supports the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, includes all children and young people up to the age of 18.

Adult at risk

In England, Isle of Man and Wales an adult at risk is defined as a person over the age of

18 who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect (Care Act 2004, section 42)

In Northern Ireland an adult at risk is defined as a person over the age of 18 whose exposure to harm through abuse, exploitation or neglect may be increased by their personal circumstances and/or life circumstances (HSCB Northern Ireland).

In Scotland adults at risk are defined as persons over the age of 16 who:

  • are unable to safeguard their own wellbeing, property, rights and or other interest
  • are at risk of harm
  • because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected (Adult Support and Protection (Act) 2007, S.3(1))


The purpose of this policy is to:

  • protect children and adults who work, volunteer and come into contact with our charity from abuse, neglect and harm. This includes any emotional, psychological or physical harm arising from:

a) the conduct of employees or volunteers associated with the charity

b) the design and implementation of any of our work, activities and events

  • ensure we respond appropriately to safeguarding concerns that we become aware of, but which are not related to the charity’s activities
  • provide all our people with the overarching principles and procedures that guide our approach to safeguarding

If you are unsure what this policy means, or how it relates to you, please speak to your line manager or coordinator in the first instance or contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO). It is essential that everyone understands and follows this policy.  


  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility at Cats Protection
  • The welfare of children (anyone under the age of 18) and adults at risk is paramount
  • All people, regardless of age, ability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, culture or identity, have a right to equal protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • We will take all concerns and allegations of abuse seriously and respond to them appropriately
  • We will work in cooperation with statutory agencies and regulatory bodies at local and national level wherever appropriate
  • We have a commitment to safer recruitment, selection and vetting that includes proportionate checks into the eligibility and the suitability of all our people
  • We have a complaints procedure which is open and well publicised
  • We will encourage a culture of learning throughout the organisation, recognising the need for continuous improvement

The safeguarding policy should be read in conjunction with all other relevant policies and procedures, as set out in appendix two. We will treat any breach of this policy very seriously. For employees, breach of this policy could lead to disciplinary action including summary dismissal for gross misconduct. In the case of volunteers, breach of this policy could, in some cases, lead to termination of branch office and branch and charity membership.

In all cases where the charity has reasonable grounds to suspect that criminal offences have been committed, the matter will always be reported to the police.

Safeguarding code of conduct

We will seek to keep children and adults at risk safe by:

  • valuing them, listening to and respecting them
  • keeping them, their safety and wellbeing at the centre of everything we do
  • reporting all incidents or concerns that cause us to believe that a child or adult is, or may be, at risk of harm
  • adopting the safeguarding practices set out in our procedures and policies
  • providing effective management for employees and volunteers through supervision, support and training
  • sharing good practice and information about safeguarding appropriate with employees and volunteers

In addition, volunteers must follow the Code of Behaviour which sets out expectations relating to safeguarding responsibilities.

The three pillars of safeguarding

Safeguarding is embedded in all our work through the three pillars of:

  • prevention
  • reporting
  • response

The following table outlines our approach to safeguarding within our charity.




  • Make sure all our people have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities under this policy
  • Design and undertake all our work and activities to protect children and adults from any risk of harm arising from their coming into contact with our charity. This includes the way in which information about individuals is gathered and communicated
  • Implement safer recruitment procedures when recruiting, managing and deploying employees and volunteers
  • Risk assess all of our work, and ensure all risk assessments include safeguarding as a core element
  • Conduct regular risk assessments across our activities and departments to ensure that the corporate risk register remains up to date
  • Make sure our people receive training on safeguarding at a level appropriate to their role in the organisation
  • Prioritise safeguarding issues at a senior level to ensure they receive all due attention
  • Raise and maintain awareness of safeguarding issues for our people from recruitment to induction and throughout their time with us and make sure everyone who works or volunteers with us is aware of this policy and the procedure to follow should concerns arise

 We expect our people to:

  • contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the safeguarding policy
  • make sure they do not subject any individual to maltreatment of any form
  • report any safeguarding concerns in line with our safeguarding reporting procedure


  • All safeguarding concerns must be shared with the Designated Safeguarding Officer or the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Officer
  • It is your responsibility to share your concern, following the process set out below
  • Anyone sharing a concern in good faith, and following the correct process, will be protected from any form of detriment regardless of the outcome
  • All safeguarding concerns will be dealt with in a professional, proportionate manner in accordance with relevant law, regulation and guidance
  • We will respond to reports from external sources such as members of the public, partners and official bodies. These may also reach us through the Cats Protection complaints procedure, whistleblowing process or through our Contact Centre
  • Safeguarding will be a standing item on both the board and Executive Management Team meeting agendas as well as other relevant meetings


  • We will follow up safeguarding reports and concerns according to policy and procedure, and in line with all statutory and regulatory obligations. We will:
  • offer support to any individual who may have suffered harm through their association with the charity
  • respond with proportionality and choose the least intrusive response appropriate to the risks presented, with due regard to appropriate levels of confidentiality
  • apply appropriate disciplinary sanctions, up to and including dismissal, to any of our people found to be in breach of the safeguarding policy. Should an employee resign because of a safeguarding investigation, or during its course, we will continue and complete this investigation in order to ascertain the circumstances of what happened and take appropriate next steps
  • commit to seeking advice from the relevant statutory service in situations of uncertainty
  • commit to reporting safeguarding incidents to statutory services in line with our legal obligations. This includes the police and local authority safeguarding teams where appropriate
  • report concerns to the Charity Commission wherever appropriate
  • learn from all safeguarding concerns, reports and incidents, by collating information for review at a senior level, and disseminating the learning across teams and the wider organisation with the aim of avoiding any reoccurrence

Safeguarding in the digital space

We recognise the equal importance of safeguarding in the online and digital space. It is our policy to apply the same rigorous level of safeguarding protection to issues which arise in our digital space (eg web, social media and online communications) as our in-person work.

We are committed to the safeguarding and protection of all our people and any other users of our digital services and social media channels, and we apply the same safeguarding principles to our activities whether they are offline or online.

This means protecting our people from online harms caused by content, contact or conduct such as:

  • online bullying and harassment
  • sexual exploitation and grooming online
  • discrimination and abuse on the grounds of any protected characteristic
  • sharing of illegal and inappropriate imagery
  • cyberstalking
  • impersonation and hacking
  • disinformation and misinformation
  • the oversharing of personal information

The scope of safeguarding in the digital space

Safeguarding considerations and responses apply across all our online and digital activities, plus all digital activities undertaken on the charity’s behalf at a national level and through third-party social media and devices.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • email
  • social media channels
  • blogging platforms
  • all information and communications technology (ICT) devices (including phones) and internet connectivity that is provided by the charity

We promote safe use, but we also recognise that some issues will only be able to be handled by the service provider and the user themselves.

Our digital safeguarding principles

  • Safeguarding concerns that arise online will be managed in the same way as those that arise offline
  • All social media activity must be in accordance with our social media and digital policy
  • All initiatives involving social media or digital platforms must be discussed with the Social Media team
  • Do not follow or accept an invitation from a child to connect on social media that you have met in a professional capacity
  • Follow all Cats Protection IT guidance and policies to reduce access to inappropriate content on devices owned or used by the charity
  • Manage the use of images involving children or adults at risk in line with our data protection policy and obtain advice from the relevant Regional Fundraising team regarding consent to image sharing and storage
Find a Cat
About us