Section 1 - Purpose of a Communication Strategy
Section 2 - Communication Procedures – Incident Reporting
Section 1 - Purpose of a Communication Strategy
1.Headquarters British Forces Germany (HQ BFG) Safeguarding Board (SB) is responsible for ensuring that agencies work together to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare’1of children and young people in HQ BFG area of responsibility. Effective communication and joint working between partner agencies is critical to the success of the SB’s strategy ‘to co-ordinate and ensure the effectiveness of local safeguarding practice.'
2.SBs are required to prioritise effective communication with partner agencies (professionals and volunteers) and with members of the community, with particular reference to listening to the views of children and young people:
‘Communicating to people and bodies in the area of the authority the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, raising their awareness of how this can be done and encouraging them to do so.’3
3.The SB Policy, Procedure and Publicity (PP&P) sub-group takes responsibility, on behalf of the SB, for ‘communicating and raising awareness’. The group determines local or national safeguarding issues to be either communicated to, or discussed with:
- Children and young people
- Parents and carers
- Professionals and volunteers
- HQ BFG community
4.This communication strategy will seek to ensure a consistent and co-ordinated approach to interactions with the community.
5.There are a wide range of benefits that will result from a communication strategy:
- Raise the community’s, professionals’ and volunteers’ awareness about safeguarding and promoting welfare of children and young people.
- Inform the community and other external stakeholders of the role and responsibilities of the SB.
- Strengthen partnership working across agencies.
- Share information and identify lead partners for different aspects of communication.
- Develop a shared understanding about safeguarding with wider safeguarding stakeholders and gain commitment to key priorities.
- Encourage the local community to be mindful of safeguarding.
- Provide a mechanism for feedback to, and from, the community and stakeholders.
- Deter offenders.
6.In developing a communications strategy the following risks need to be considered and mitigated against:
- inaccurate information might be promulgated;
- information might be promulgated which compromises a prosecution of an offender;
- information might be promulgated which leads to a victim being identified;
- information might be promulgated which leads to a suspected perpetrator or family of a suspected perpetrator being subjected to unlawful action, either in Germany or elsewhere.
7.To ensure partners of the SB are well informed about the role, functions, achievements and priorities of the SB through the development of a website and use of appropriate materials.
8.To increase public awareness and profile of the SB and their activities through a broad range of communication channels.
9.To raise the safeguarding awareness of the local workforce (staff and volunteers) and the BFG community, with a specific focus on safeguarding children and young people.
10.Ensuring that members of the BFG community, staff and volunteers know how to report safeguarding concerns.
11.Ensuring that such communications as are issued do not compromise criminal investigations and procedures or expose any individual to harm.
12.Communicate to children that concerns will be taken seriously and investigated properly.
13.These are identified as follows:
- Children and young people
- Parents and carers resident in BFG
- Professionals and volunteers in the BFG children’s workforce.
14.GOC has developed some HQ BFG Communication messages two of which are pertinent to this document as follows:
- HQ BFG values Service Personnel, support staff and families within Germany and the wider European dependency.
- HQ BFG acts as a responsible ‘Local Authority’ providing comprehensive and effective support including young people, health, public safety and social welfare.
As well as the above, the following key messages must be used by all partners of the HQ BFG SB in their communications to the public, parents/carers, children and young people, as well as with other partners and stakeholders:
- Children and young people in HQ BFG must be safeguarded
- Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is the whole community’s responsibility
- All agencies within BFG are committed to working together to safeguard children
- The SB has an independent Chair to ensure that the Board critically scrutinises the work of member organisations so that any problems are sorted out and any failures tackled
- It is simple and easy to report concerns and problems about the welfare of any child
- Children and young people must be consulted and their views taken into account when planning services
- The main source of information, advice, and policies about safeguarding children can be found on the SB website, including information for:
Children and Young People
- How to keep safe
- What to do if you/someone you know is being harmed/harming themselves
- For those involved in it – a basic understanding of the child protection system and what it means for them
Voluntary and Community Organisations
- What support/help the Board can provide; in particular, help with developing training programmes, accessing multi-agency and other training and with developing child protection policies and practice
- How to access this help and advice
- What good safeguarding practice is and how this can be provided
- Local Safeguarding Groups and how to become involved in these
- How to recruit staff and volunteers safely and deal with allegations made against them
Parent and Carers
- How to provide safe parenting
- Sources of parenting advice and support
- How to protect your children and any others you are responsible for
- For those involved in it – the role of the different agencies involved in child protection and how the safeguarding process works
- How to access policies and guidelines
Board partners and statutory agencies
- The role of the Safeguarding Board
- How to contact the Board
- Availability and accessibility of training
- Availability of multi-agency policy and procedures
- Local Safeguarding Sub-Groups – their role and how to participate
- How to access the Board with concerns about agency practice and what will happen in response
- Recommendations from serious case reviews and Child Death Overview Panels and how they should be implemented
- What represents good / best safeguarding practice, how this is demonstrated within agencies and how it can be replicated
- Performance against agreed objectives available in an annual report.
The key messages above are to be set in the context of the SB’s Governance agenda and action plan.
15.A work programme will be created to deliver the communications strategy and will appear within the formal action/work plan developed by the Executive Group. Individual communication campaigns will be added to the work programme when required.
Methods of Communication^
16.SB communication will be directed at target audiences using the following means:
- Face to face - where appropriate, SB communication will be done on a face to face basis. This will include consultation events, multi-agency training and delivering messages by agency workers directly to service users.
- Electronic - Websites and emails will be used to deliver speedy and targeted communication to various audiences. As a minimum, at least one form of electronic communication will be used to deliver any one message. The SB website will be utilised for this purpose.
- Print - leaflets, posters, magazines, newsletters and letters will be used to deliver planned communications.
- Media – (See Section 2, bullet point e. below). With approval of the SB Chair and members and where appropriate, Chief Media and Communications, press releases will be issued to the media to promote SB messages. British Forces
Broadcasting Service (Television and Radio), Sixth Sense newspaper and garrison specific publications will be utilised for this purpose.
Section 2 – Communication Procedures – Incident Reporting
LSB Communication Procedures- Communication Channels^
17.It is important to recognise that good communication is the responsibility of everyone in the SB. The key stakeholders in delivering this communication strategy are set out below.
- The SB Executive Group will take overall responsibility for implementing communication and public information principles.
- The Executive Group and, in particularly high profile cases, the SB Full Board is responsible for the final authorisation of communication material, with the SB Chair holding ultimate responsibility.
- The SB Full Board will be responsible for driving the delivery of core business messages through the Executive Group.
- The Executive Group will act as gatekeepers and take responsibility for SB communication, being responsible for ensuring that legal advice and advice from law enforcement agencies is taken before any decision is made to issue a communication, ensuring appropriate consultation takes place and before printing and distribution.
- All media communications must be channelled through the official media chain within HQ BFG and to AMC/DMC if required, in accordance with Defence Instructions and notices 2011DIN03-025. All proposed contact with the media must first be referred to the SB Chair, Vice Chair or Business Manager before approaching the official media chain.
- Communication Officers/SB attendees from each agency will champion internal communications within their agency.
- Distribution of information will be co-ordinated by the Executive Group.
18.The following procedure is to be followed in the event of a:
- Safeguarding issue arising that requires the co-ordinated involvement of, or response from, several partner agencies;
- Safeguarding issue arising that may attract media attention.
The SB partner agencies will use the following criteria for defining what issues or incidents need to be notified to the SB Chair, Vice Chair or Business Manager:
SB partner agencies are required to adhere to the following procedure:
19.Examples of issues/incidents that the SB should be informed of include:
- Criminal activity in the vicinity of a setting (e.g. school, nursery, sports club, etc) used by children or young people, which has the potential to have an impact on children’s safety or welfare;
- Media attention about safeguarding within the BFG community;
- Suspicious activity near a setting used by children or young people, which had the potential to have an impact on children’s safety or welfare;
20.SB members are responsible for ensuring their senior management teams are informed of the issue/incident, following notification from the SB.
21.An up-to-date contact list for SB members is maintained by the SB secretary and is circulated regularly to partner agencies.
1. Working Together to Safeguard Children, March 2013, HM Government
2. Standing Orders British Forces (Germany) 3351, available at: BFGnet.de
1 Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2013 p 58
2 Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2013 p 58
3 Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2013 p 59