Safeguarding Adults

Learn about safeguarding adults in football.

Safeguarding adults can be complex. The rights of the adult to self-determination and to be involved in decisions about their lives needs to be balanced against risks, such as the need to keep others safe.

disability football

The FA Safeguarding Adults Course

An introduction to safeguarding adults in disability football.


Click here to view all FA policies and procedures related to safeguarding.

‘Safeguarding adults’ means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

In open-age adult disability football ‘safeguarding adults’ means creating safe environments and responding when an adult is at risk.

This includes:

  • Adopting best practice and creating an inclusive, safe and positive environment;
  • Ensuring coaches and others in positions of power understand their responsibilities and respect clear boundaries in relationships;
  • Ensuring everyone knows how and when to report concerns about an adult at risk;
  • Swift and appropriate action when an adult might be at risk;
  • Whistle-blowing if a safeguarding concern is not properly addressed.

The categories of abuse are:

  • Self-neglect (not looking after personal hygiene, health or surroundings or hoarding).
  • Domestic abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse). 
  • Discriminatory abuse (due to race, gender or disability or any of the other protected characteristics of the Equality Act, 2010).
  • Organisational abuse (including neglect or poor practice in a care setting).
  • Physical abuse (includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions).
  • Sexual abuse (includes sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and rape).
  • Financial or material abuse (including theft, fraud, internet scamming or coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements).
  • Neglect (including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of medication, food or heating).
  • Emotional (could include: threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks).
  • Modern slavery (slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude).
  • Bullying (the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power).

Initial reports will normally be to the Club Welfare Officer (Adult Disability Teams) unless they are suspected of being involved in the concern. If this happens the report should be made directly to the County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer (CFA DSO).

Even if the adult does not want action taken, the concern must still be shared as no volunteer or staff member should hold back information that might mean an adult is at risk.

Holding back information could mean that poor practice or abuse continues or gets worse. Keeping information private puts unfair pressure on volunteers and encourages a culture of secrets.

After receiving a report, the Club Welfare Officer (Adult Disability Teams) will involve the adult to establish their views and involve them in the next steps (assuming it is safe to do so).

If a disclosure is made:

  • Find a quiet place to talk;
  • Be patient, listen carefully and stay calm;
  • Allow enough time for the person to communicate fully;
  • Be clear with them that they have a right to be safe;
  • Ask the adult what they would like to happen and reassure them that their views and wishes will be taken into account;
  • Explain the information must be passed on to the CWO (Adult Disability Teams) – assuming they’re not implicated.

    But please avoid:

  • Asking lots of questions;
  • Beginning investigations or touching any evidence;
  • Deleting any messages or pictures;
  • Putting anyone at risk by the actions you take.

If you are worried about an adult don’t keep concerns to yourself.

Depending on your relationship with the person and how serious your concerns are, see if the person would like to talk to you or the Club Welfare Officer (Adult Disability Teams).

It is best practice, when safe to do so, to discuss any safeguarding concerns with the adult to establish their views and the expression ‘nothing about me without me’ is a useful one to remember.

The Club Welfare Officer or the County Designated Safeguarding Officer

If you are concerned that a vulnerable adult may be experiencing, or be at risk of, abuse or neglect please telephone 999 in an emergency.

During office hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)

Contact details to make a referral to Derby City Council, Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH):

  • Telephone: 01332 642855
  • Minicom: 01332 640666
  • Fax: 01332 643299

Outside office hours - Careline

  • Telephone: 01332 786968
  • Minicom: 01332 785642
  • Fax: 01332 786965
  • SMS text message number: 07890 034081 (for Deaf people only)

The Deaf and hearing impaired community can use the National Short Message Servive (SMS) Emergency Service.

To use this service you will need to register at

Alternatively, if it is a non-emergency criminal matter, you can call the local police on telephone number 101, text 07800 002414 or fax 01773 571102.

If something is – or might be – abuse, the Club Welfare Officer (Adult Disability Teams) must report this to the CFA DSO within 24 hours.

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