Everyone involved in sport and activity, whether they are a participant, volunteer or parent/carer, has the right to be safe, free from abuse, neglect or harassment. 

All organisations delivering sport and physical activity should provide a safe space for all participants and volunteers to be actively involved. Providing a safe and secure environment is underpinned by the safeguarding processes and practices that an organisation has in place and the actions taken to promote the welfare of everyone involved. To find out more about safeguarding and the importance of safeguarding children, young people and adults # continue to read the information below. Specific information on safeguarding children and young people and adults can be found on dedicated pages which have been linked to on this page.

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding in sport and physical activity is about protecting children and adults from harm, abuse, harassment, bullying and neglect. Everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe and should know what to do if they have any concerns.

Prevention is key to safeguarding. Organisations should aim to prevent the likelihood of safeguarding issues arising through the promotion and embedding of safeguarding practices. A culture of safeguarding should be embedded throughout organisations in everything that they do. This will create a safer environment for all.

Why is it important to have safeguarding practices in place?  

Safeguarding children, young people and adults is essential and your organisation has a both legal and moral responsibility to care and protect all those who are involved with your organisation from harm. This duty is outlined in Government legislations (Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2018 and The Care Act 2014).

In addition to the legal and moral obligations to safeguard children, young people and adults, there are a number of additional wider benefits for organisations that practice safeguarding well and have processes in place to reduce the risk of harm and abuse. These benefits include:

  • Helping to create a safe, fun and supportive environment for all and reducing the risk of harm and abuse for everyone involved with your organisation
  • Giving prospective members, volunteers, and parents/carers the confidence in your organisation and the way that you operate.
  • Attracting people that do not already engage with your offer. Feeling unsafe or excluded from sport and physical activity is often a significant barrier to participants and volunteers of all ages.
  • Making everyone aware of the processes in place and how to raise a concern should an issue arise.
  • Improving your reputation as a safe organisation which could help you attract support from your local community, sponsors and funding organisations. 
  • Enabling you to fulfil and requirements of affiliation to your NGB or umbrella organisation.
  • Helping you to meet the needs and requirements of any insurance policies that your organisation may require.

Safeguarding children:

A child and young person is  anyone under the age of 18 years old. Every organisation that works with children and young people has a legal and moral duty to care for them and to safeguard them against harm. All organisations must have processes in place to prevent children and young people experiencing harm or abuse.  Our dedicated page on Safeguarding Children and Young People will provide you will all the information on how your organisation can safeguard children and young people, including tips on embedding your safeguarding policy and procedures. Check out the page here.

Safeguarding adults:

Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that the welfare of all adults is protected at their organisation. All adults could potentially be subjected to abuse or harm, and there are specific safeguarding procedures for adults with care and support needs who are experiencing abuse or neglect. It is important for organisations to understand their responsibilities and the principles of safeguarding adults. Check out our Safeguarding Adults webpage, which provides more information on how your organisation can safeguard adults. Check out the page here.

Differences between safeguarding children and adults

It is important to understand that safeguarding for both child and adults is essential, but there are different approaches to take. Understanding this will help you to respond properly to any concerns you have regarding children or adults. Check out the differences between children and adult safeguarding in the table below.



  • Every child, young person and adult should be able to participate and/or volunteer in sport free from abuse and harm.
  • Each individual at an organisation is responsible for ensuring the safety and welfare of children, young people and adults.
  • Everyone at an organisation has a duty to report and respond to concerns about issues relating to the welfare of children, young people and adults.
  • Research shows that abuse usually occurs by someone they a child, young person or adult knows.
  • There is a legal requirement to have a Local Safeguarding Partnership (LSP) for children and young people and a Local Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB) for adults.


  •  Legislation and guidance: There are differences in the legislation on safeguarding children and adults. It is important to ensure you understand the regulations of safeguarding both children and adults.
  • The procedures for reporting abuse and handling cases are not the same for children and young people and adults. Check out the specific Club Matters pages or Sport England’s webpage on reporting or responding to a concern for more information. 
  • There are more categories of abuse for adults than for children and young people. Organistions should be aware of the different forms of abuse for children, young people and adults.
  • Unlike children and young people, adults have the right to remain in an unsafe situation if they have capacity to make that decision.
  • There is no Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for adult safeguarding.

Reporting or Responding to an Immediate Concern – Children and Adults

If you believe a child, young person or an adult is in immediate danger you should call the emergency services on 999. To report concerns relating to a child or young person, you can also ring the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 to report immediate risks. For more detailed guidance on reporting and responding to immediate concerns for children and adults, please click here. 

Last modified: Friday, 24 September 2021, 9:29 AM