The problem of child abuse is high on the political agenda, already legislation exists in the Children Act 1989 and it is probable that further legislation may follow, recognised teaching establishments (RTEs) will be required by the government to put a formal child protection policy in place by 2003.
The Croquet Association, federations and croquet clubs are not RTEs but, as coaching of young people is provided at all levels, it is recommended that a child protection policy is adopted. The Children Act of 1989 defines children as persons of less than 18 years of age.
Earlier this year, the Croquet Association was circulated with a consultation questionnaire by a joint NSPCC/Sport England working party. The CA completed the questionnaire and wisely decided to draft a policy, code of practice and procedures for the Croquet Association and for clubs. The draft documents were largely written by our chairman and, after consultation and modification, were approved by Council at its October meeting.
I have been asked to be the CA's national Child Protection Officer and have written to all club secretaries, federation secretaries and those individuals at the national level in the CA who are or will be involved in the organising of activities for under18s, including tournaments.
I have sent to them copies of the relevant policies, the CA policy document for national and federation levels and the policy for member clubs and the guidelines to croquet clubs. The croquet organisation in the UK is not yet required to have a child protection policy in place, but we should be aware of the stance of the funding bodies such as Sport England and the National Lottery, who require a CPP to be in place before they will give any grants. Local authorities are expected to follow the national lead.
Similarly, clubs hoping to achieve charitable status are likely to be required to have a child protection policy in place. In addition, I am sure that the CA, federations and clubs would wish to have the interest and well being of children taking part in the game as an achievable objective and not to see it as yet another difficulty or bureaucratic measure to be imposed on the game.
It will mean, however, that those federations and clubs that wish to adopt the policy will need to identify an individual who will be the federation or club child protection coordinator and that the policy with the appointee's details attached, should be formally adopted at federation/club AGM or committee meeting, whichever is appropriate. At the present time there is a considerable delay in obtaining clearances for both Nigel Graves, the CA Secretary, and myself. There is no point at the moment in any individual, federation or club contacting the Criminal Records Bureau until the two persons mentioned above have been cleared and the Croquet Association is recognised as the umbrella body for the sport. I shall notify federation and club secretaries and individuals involved with under-18s when the situation is appropriate. In the meantime however, it is strongly recommended that Child Protection Policies are adopted and that the procedures for child protection are put into place this year even though clearances for individuals may take some considerable time. The coordinators and those within federations or clubs who have or who are likely to have significant contact with under18s will need to complete an "Application for Disclosure".
It is suggested that, when appointed, the federation or club child protection coordinators contact their local authority sports development section to see whether they or the police run child protection courses locally. This will enable federation and club child protection coordinators and other croquet members involved in coaching or other activities involved with young people to benefit from the training courses that are available.
Any federations, clubs or individuals requiring information or assistance should contact me either by letter at my home address: 23 Rockliffe Road, Bathwick, Bath, BA2 6QW, or by telephone: 01225 462718, or by email to whitarch#lineone.net.
Go to the download section to view a copy of the Model Child Protection Policy.