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SMG safeguarding policy

Reviewed March 2021

The Science Museum Group (SMG) is committed to being open for all children and vulnerable adults and to ensuring that everyone who accesses our premises, exhibitions, colleagues and resources should be safe and protected from harm.

This policy is in place to ensure that SMG is following the requirements of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

It is mandatory for everyone working at SMG to abide by the safeguarding policy, framework and guidance. Any employee found not to have followed it may be subject to disciplinary action. Or alternative appropriate action if they are not an employee

These documents will be made available on request to group leaders and relevant public authorities.


Safeguarding is about protecting vulnerable people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

A vulnerable person is someone that, because of their age, illness, physical or learning disability, is unable to take care of or protect themselves against harm or exploitation. Vulnerability can be temporary due to illness or for other reasons. The term vulnerable people includes all children under 18.

A responsible adult is a person over the age of 18 who has responsibility for the vulnerable people in their care (e.g. parents, teachers, carers and group leaders).

An adult at risk is 'any person who is aged 18 years or over and at risk of abuse or neglect because of their needs for care and support'.

Colleague is used to mean all types of employees, workers and volunteers, including casual and temporary employees, contractors, freelancers, researchers, students and Trustees. SMG safeguarding policy and procedures must also be made clear to those working for partner organisations, such as those delivering at SMG events (on site and virtual) and festival activities.

Scope and associated policies and procedures

This policy applies to all SMG colleagues as defined above.

The SMG Director of Learning is the organisation's Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO). On a day-to-day basis, safeguarding responsibilities are allocated to a Safeguarding Committee at each museum site. Their role is to act as a point of contact on safeguarding concerns for everyone working at the museum and to advise on safeguarding matters. The membership of the committee at each site includes a range of employees from different departments including Learning, Operations and the People Team, all of whom have undergone safeguarding training.

The Safeguarding Policy should be used in conjunction with the following SMG policies and procedures:

  • SMG Safeguarding Procedures
  • SMG Guidelines for Working in a Museum – Safeguarding
  • Specific standard operating procedures for each museum
  • Procedures for work placements and volunteering for each museum
  • Data protection procedures
  • Vetting and security clearance procedures
  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • SMG Social Media Policy
  • Site admission guidelines

This policy and associated documents will be reviewed every three years or sooner if required by changes in legislation or procedure or as the result of a post-incident investigation.

Our aims

The Science Museum Group aims to:

  • respect the rights of all children and vulnerable adults
  • provide an environment (including museum-led activities off-site) which is safe and welcoming for children and vulnerable adults and which protects them from all forms of abuse
  • ensure that everyone working at and for SMG is aware of the need to protect children and vulnerable adults and know how to reduce the risks to them
  • provide procedures and guidance for everyone working at SMG for their own protection.

Our commitment 

The Science Museum Group and everyone who works within it endeavours to safeguard children and vulnerable adults by:

  • adopting safeguarding procedures for alI, which minimise any opportunity for abuse and establish appropriate treatment of children and vulnerable adults both in person at our museums and activities and virtually through online engagement
  • ensuring individuals working with children/vulnerable adults are fully aware of and trained to follow the Museum's procedures and guidance for both in person and online activities
  • sharing information about the principles of safeguarding and good practice with colleagues and visitors
  • providing effective management through supervision, support and training
  • ensuring that responsible adults such as parents, guardians and teachers are aware of their own responsibilities in relation to safeguarding
  • sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents/carers as appropriate
  • following robust procedures for the recruitment and selection of employees and volunteers and ensuring colleagues have the appropriate DBS checks in place
  • designating colleagues to lead on safeguarding issues
  • reviewing our policy and practice at regular intervals
  • ensuring safeguarding policies and procedures are regularly updated in accordance with current Government legislation and best practice
  • taking allegations seriously and responding fairly, swiftly and appropriately.
  • Reporting safeguarding incidents using established internal (and restricted) reporting protocols

If an individual has any concerns about any aspects of this policy or other safeguarding documents or procedures, they should contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer.

Our conduct and behaviour

We all play a part in helping keep vulnerable people from harm and ensuring that our own behaviour and conduct is appropriate, professional and above reproach. We can do this by:

  • valuing each visitor as an individual by listening to and respecting them
  • taking the same care to safeguard visitors online as in our museums
  • remaining in clear sight wherever possible when interacting with the public by staying in open spaces, in the presence of responsible adults and/or colleagues
  • talking with anyone, visitors or colleagues, in a friendly but not overfamiliar manner, ensuring our conversations avoid any topic that might be regarded as inappropriate in nature including conversations via radio
  • only taking photographs of visitors following SMG procedures for consent and storage of images
  • remaining professional at all times. Even if we meet visitors in a social setting, we are always the face of the museum to them
  • remembering that if friends or family are visiting the museum when we are on duty, we are still on view to everyone
  • not initiating or encouraging physical contact
  • gently moving back when a visitor initiates physical contact and then engaging in conversation
  • asking a visitor's permission and letting them know what we are about to do if we need to touch them to help them, for example, someone who has fallen who is visiting on their own.

Safeguarding reporting structure and governance

The diagram below shows the flow of information through the organisation following the report of any safeguarding incident, whether on or off site or online. Whilst it is vital that this information is shared, the confidential nature of personal details must not be overlooked.

The Director of Learning is the Designated Safeguarding Officer and is responsible for Safeguarding across the Group.

Safeguarding will be an agenda item on all museum HSW committees, with a report being provided by the Head of Learning for the site.

Key items will be escalated to Group HSW Committee by the Director of Learning. A report is also made to SMG Executive at every meeting by the Director of Learning.

Safeguarding committees will be held quarterly at all sites, and will be attended by:

  • Head of Learning (or nominated deputy)
  • Head of Operations/Site Manager (Locomotion)
  • A representative from the People Team
  • Representatives from the Duty Management team
  • Additional members can be added as required by each site

The purpose of this meetings is to:

  • Review all safeguarding incidents
  • Review any relevant procedures and ensure they are adequate
  • Review and monitor training on site
  • Report to the site HSW Committee
  • Make recommendations as appropriate

Terms of reference are in place for each safeguarding committee:

  • Science Museum (SCM)
  • National Science and Media Museum (NSMM)
  • Museum of Science and Industry (SIM)
  • National Railway Museum (NRM) and Locomotion

Six-monthly incident sharing meetings will be held with the Head of Learning and Head of Operations from each site, chaired by the Director of Learning and the Head of Health and Safety.

Training requirements

All colleagues are required to have an awareness of safeguarding procedures and know what to do if they are concerned about anything that they have seen or heard. A range of training and briefing sessions are available depending on role and responsibilities. A full list of these is available in the SMG Safeguarding Procedures document.

Appendix 1: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 

DBS checks form an important part of our wider safeguarding policy. Careful consideration will be given to whether a DBS check is required for each role.

You are only legally entitled to carry out an enhanced or enhanced with barred lists DBS check if someone's position is one of those listed in the 'exceptions order' of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and in the Police Act regulations and (for the barred list check) meets the definition of regulated activity.

SMG colleagues will be asked to complete either a basic or enhanced disclosure check:


All colleagues, regardless of role, complete a basic criminal record check when they join SMG unless they are in one of the roles listed below.


SMG have determined that the following roles require an enhanced disclosure:

  • Senior Explainers and Explainers
  • Outreach
  • Astronights (overnight shift)
  • Audience Research Team
  • Anyone supervising a work experience or volunteering placement for a child or vulnerable adult

To be eligible for an enhanced DBS check the position must be included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 174 (exceptions) Order 1975 and in Police Act Regulations. If the answer is yes to the two questions below then you are entitled to undertake an enhanced DBS check.

Does the role involve one of the following activities?  

  • Teaching
  • Training
  • Care
  • Supervision
  • Advice
  • Treatment
  • Transportation
  • Being in sole charge    

Will the work take place regularly?

This is defined as:

  • Frequently – once a week or more, or
  • Intensively – takes place on four or more days in a 30-day period, or
  • Overnight – defined as between 02.00 and 06.00

Enhanced with adults and or children's barred lists check(s)

To be eligible to request a check of the children's or adults' barred lists the position must meet the DBS definition of 'regulated activity'- See appendix 2 for a comprehensive definition of 'regulated activity'. It is important to understand this definition. It is expected that extremely few museum roles would fall into this category.

Prospective employees

The need for an enhanced DBS is detailed on a job description, or the Vacancy Information Pack at the point of recruitment.

Once an individual has been selected for a role requiring an enhanced DBS check their status will be checked by the People Team. The individual will be supervised if they start work before their disclosure has been approved.

Existing Employees

Once in a role requiring an enhanced check, individuals will be checked every 3 years.

Where an employed individual is about to commence in an activity which is not part of their regular duties (i.e. supervising a work experience placement or volunteering for a sleepover) they will also need to apply for an enhanced DBS check, and have it cleared before they commence this activity.

Contractors and Freelancers

When contracting freelancers, we will consider the need for a basic or enhanced check and if an enhanced check is required, this will be made clear to the individual prior to engagement and must be approved prior to any lone working on site.

For contractors employed through a contract for services the requirement to submit to an enhanced DBS check must be included on the contract. The individual will not be permitted to commence work until their disclosure has been approved.


The need for an enhanced DBS check must be made evident when the volunteer role is created and to the volunteer before they agree to undertake that role/task.

Once an individual has been selected for a volunteer role requiring an enhanced check, the individual will not be permitted to commence volunteering until their disclosure has been approved.

Update service

Checks carried out by other organisations can now be accepted in certain circumstances, using the update service. The update service enables organisations to carry out an instant online check on an individual's enhanced DBS certificate, providing that the individual is registered with this service.

SMG will seek to use the online update service wherever possible. If the postholder is eligible for an enhanced DBS check, they will be asked if they are a member of the update service and in addition asked for their permission to allow SMG to check their enhanced DBS certificate. If the answer is yes to both questions, SMG will check their enhanced DBS certificate using the online update service. SMG takes the refusal of
permission very seriously as this may impact on the ability of the postholder to carry out the role.

SMG will accept a certificate previously issued by another organisation provided that the individual is a member of the update service and SMG can carry out an instant update check.

A Government overview of the Disclosure and Barring service can be found here:

The Government guidance for DBS eligibility can be found here:

Appendix 2: Regulated activity

What is 'regulated activity'?

Regulated activity is work that a barred person must not do.

There are different definitions of regulated activity depending on whether you are working with a child or a vulnerable adult.

Activities that place a postholder in Regulated Activity with children are:

  1. Unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care or supervise children, or provide advice guidance on well-being, or drive a vehicle only for children;
  2. Work for a limited range of establishments ('specified places') with opportunity for contact: for example, schools, children's homes, childcare premises.

SMG does not come under the list of 'specified places' and therefore only the first point above is relevant. If the activities in point 1 are being conducted under the reasonable day to day supervision of another person engaging in regulated activity, then it is not regulated activity. It is up to the organisation to define what 'reasonable day to day supervision' means.

Illustrative example: An Explainer is regularly (as defined in Appendix 1) teaching groups of school children at the Museum. This is not considered regulated activity as it is always supervised by someone in regulated activity (i.e. a teacher is always present).

Points to note:

The activity must be for children. If it is merely incidental to activity with adults, then it is not considered regulated activity. For example, if a child comes to a training event put on for adults then the trainer would not be engaging in regulated activity.

Activities that place a postholder in regulated activity with an adult (a person aged 18 and older) are:

  1. Healthcare for adults provided by, or under the direction or supervision of a regulated health care professional (members of peer support groups and first­ aiders are excluded)
  2. Personal care for adults involving hand-on physical assistance with washing and dressing, eating, drinking and toileting, oral care or care of the skin, hair or nails (excluding only hair-cutting); prompting and supervising an adult with any of these tasks because of their age, illness or disability; or teaching someone to do one of these tasks
  3. Social work - provision by a social care worker of social work which is required in connection with any health services or social services
  4. Assistance with and managing an adult's cash, paying an adult's bills or shopping because of their age, illness or disability
  5. Assisting in the conduct of an adult's own affairs under a formal appointment
  6. Conveying adults for reasons of age, illness or disability to, from, or between places, where they receive healthcare, personal care or social work

Points to note:

  • For vulnerable adults these remain regulated activities even if they are conducted under the supervision of someone in a regulated activity.
  • An adult is considered vulnerable at the point of receiving any of the activities outlined above. The setting in which the activities take place and the characteristics of the adult receiving them are not relevant in deciding whether an adult is vulnerable.
  • A person whose role involves the day-to-day management or supervision of any person engaging in regulated activity, should check with the People Team to assess if their role is classed as a regulated activity.