Safeguarding risks at unregulated children’s services

Date: 17th January 2023
Category: Social security

children playing outside animation

The UK Department of Education has published a report revealing out-of-school-services putting children’s safety at risk due to a lack of regulation and accountability for the use of safe practices. Similar concerns exist around unregulated sports in Scotland, highlighting a need for better safeguarding for children in all settings.

The report revealed the challenge of engaging with the out-of-school-services sector, due to factors such as no obligation to notify anyone of their existence including regulatory agencies, which makes it difficult to check whether basic safeguarding for children is in place. The report identifies some other key issues in the out of school services sector including no compulsory obligations with regards to safe practice and lack of accountability capacity by regulatory agencies. It concludes recommending that the UK government should take more action to improve safeguarding in these unregulated settings.

There are similar safeguarding risks for services provided for children in Scotland, particularly around unregulated sport. There is currently no child protection provision for unaffiliated sports organisations, that is private sports clubs or schools. No regulation of safe practice in these child services means children who attend these activities may be at greater risk of harm.

This is an area of concern highlighted by our members, which we have raised in our Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, recommending that the Scottish Government improve accountability of unregulated sports provision through a legislative framework which protects children from harm in all settings. Our Shadow Report is due to launch in early February.