AquaPaddle is a UK-based charity, with a global remit, delivering regular, free, timed, volunteer-organised paddle events around the world. We have one distance, 5K, which welcome paddlers, and volunteers from the age of 13.  

AquaPaddle events take place Fortnightly, on a Sunday, at the same set time each week start times vary from 9 am – 11 am (depending on location). AquaPaddles are simple to organise, and a Crew of local volunteers manage each event. 

For all participants, participation is primarily for fun, being free from undue pressure and in the full understanding, they are participating in a timed paddle rather than a race. 

This document provides detail on the AquaPaddle Safeguarding policies and procedures and will be regularly reviewed and updated.   The following pages cover: 

What is Safeguarding 

Safeguarding is primarily considered in relation to children, defined as anyone yet to reach their 18th birthday.   

Children are welcome at an AquaPaddle 5k after the event model has been tested with just adults first.   Five AquaPaddle adult only events will take place and evaluated.  After this time, children will be welcomed.  

As children are welcome at Aquapaddle events, we need to ensure that they are safeguarded both on and off the water.  

Safeguarding children and child protection 

As laid out by the NSPCC – All organisations that work with or come into contact with children should have safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that every child, regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, has a right to equal protection from harm. 

Setting up and following good safeguarding policies and procedures means children are safe from adults and other children who might pose a risk. This includes voluntary and community organisations, faith groups, private sector providers, as well as schools, hospitals and sports clubs. 

What is safeguarding? 

Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. 

Safeguarding means: 

  • protecting children from abuse and maltreatment 
  • preventing harm to children’s health or development 
  • ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care 
  • taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes. 

Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child. 

Child protection 

‘The protection of children (under 18) from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect’. 

Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of children in and out of the home. 

For AquaPaddle’s purposes and contexts, we define a child as anyone yet to reach their 18th birthday. 

Vulnerable adults/adults at risk 

Any person who is aged 18 years or over and at risk of abuse or neglect because of their need for care and/ or support. An adult’s status can shift between ‘at risk’ and ‘not at risk’ depending on their surrounding circumstances. 

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AquaPaddle’s Safeguarding Policy Statement 

We believe that everyone should be able to participate in, and enjoy, physical activity in a safe environment, and be safeguarded from harm through a duty of care. 

AquaPaddle acknowledges that children and some adults can be particularly vulnerable to abuse, and we accept responsibility to take reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure their safety and welfare. 

We acknowledge our duty of care to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and adults at risk. We are committed to ensuring safeguarding practice reflects statutory responsibilities, relevant local government guidance, and complies with best practice.  AquaPaddle is committed to collaborating with law enforcement, social services, local services, and other relevant agencies, in accordance with their procedures. 

The Safeguarding Policy recognises that the welfare and interests of children and adults at risk are paramount in all circumstances. It aims to ensure that regardless of age, ability or disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, socio-economic background, everyone: 

  • Has a positive and enjoyable experience at an AquaPaddle event in a safe environment 
  • Is protected from abuse whilst participating in an AquaPaddle event 

As part of our Safeguarding Policy, AquaPaddle will: 

  • Prioritise and encourage the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults 
  • Continue to keep sessions and events simple, and take a common-sense approach, in order to minimise risk 
  • Ensure appropriate action is taken in the event of incidents of, or concerns about, abuse, and provide support to those who raise or disclose the concern 
  • Ensure that confidential and accurate records of all safeguarding concerns are maintained and securely stored 
  • Ensure robust safeguarding arrangements and procedures are in operation 

The Safeguarding Policy is publicly available via 

The procedures and guidance laid out are mandatory for everyone involved in AquaPaddle. We ask all Aquapaddle staff, trustees, directors, patrons, Captains, coaches and crew to familiarise themselves with this Safeguarding Policy so that AquaPaddle events are delivered to the highest possible standard with safeguarding prioritised at all times. 

This Policy is reviewed regularly (at the very least annually), in order to maintain best practice. 

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Key Safeguarding Principles

This Safeguarding Policy is based on the following key principles: 

  • Everyone who takes part in AquaPaddle should have the opportunity to have fun and enjoy themselves in an environment that keeps them safe from harm 
  • The welfare, protection and safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults must always be paramount and should be based on prevention and best practice 
  • It is everyone’s right to be protected from abuse, irrespective of age, ability or disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, or socio-economic background 
  • Duty of care is the responsibility of all, regardless, if in a paid or voluntary role 
  • Any allegations of abuse will be treated sensitively and seriously, and be responded to swiftly and appropriately 
  • Confidentiality will be appropriately maintained, but the safety and welfare of the individual/s will be the overriding consideration when making decisions on whether to share information 
  • AquaPaddle will support everyone involved in delivering and supporting events to understand their roles and responsibilities for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults; also, to be aware of and understand best practice, and know-how to manage any child or vulnerable adult concerns they identify or are informed of 
  • Safety at an AquaPaddle event is paramount and will take priority over the continuation of an event  

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The AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team

Safeguarding is the responsibility of every adult, whatever their role. However, in order to take all practical steps to best safeguard everyone within the AquaPaddle community, AquaPaddle has established an internal Safeguarding Team, which is directly responsible for ensuring the development, implementation and monitoring of safeguarding policies, procedures and guidance, and from whom support can be gained. 

The AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team can be contacted via [email protected].  This is the main form of contact, and this e-mail will be regularly monitored.  However, if there is a safeguarding incident at an event this should be brought to the attention of the AquaPaddle Captain.  If someone is in danger, this should be reported to the police on 999 or 101 as appropriate.  

The team is currently comprised of: 

  • Arnold Jager, Chair of Trustees 
  • Brett Scillitoe, AquaPaddle CEO and Safeguarding Ambassador 
  • Ed Milnes, Safeguarding Ambassador 

The Safeguarding Team reviews every reported safeguarding incident as they are reported and carries out a quarterly review of all safeguarding incidents. The findings of the quarterly reviews inform AquaPaddle’s operating policies and procedures and updates to this Safeguarding Policy. 

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What is Abuse and How we Might see it at AquaPaddle Events 

Abuse guidance generally relates particularly to children and vulnerable adults but applies to everyone involved in AquaPaddle.   

Abuse may be something that happens in an AquaPaddle setting or something you become aware of happening to a person more generally outside of AquaPaddle. If anyone discloses any form of abuse to you, you witness it, or you have concerns about someone, please contact the Safeguarding Team via [email protected] as a matter of urgency. 

If you suspect someone may be in immediate danger, always contact the police on 999. 

Abuse is any action that causes harm to another person, usually a child or vulnerable adult. 

  • It can be intentional or unintentional 
  • It usually happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event 
  • An abused child or adult will often experience more than one type of abuse 
  • It is not always obvious, or easy to identify 

Whilst for the vast majority of time, AquaPaddle is a safe environment, free from abuse of any sort, unfortunately, abuse can occur in the AquaPaddle setting and therefore we must remain mindful of it at all times. 

For further information, below is a list of different types of abuse and some signs that may indicate that someone could be being abused. This is not an exhaustive list of indicators, and there may be genuine reasons why someone is displaying these signs or behaviours. 

There are many different types of abuse, including: 

  • Physical abuse 
  • Emotional/mental/psychological abuse 
  • Sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation 
  • Neglect and self-neglect 
  • Self-harm 
  • Domestic abuse 
  • Bullying 

Here are some examples of how the different types of abuse might occur or show themselves in an AquaPaddle setting:

Physical abuse 

Deliberately hurting someone, causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts. This may or may not have occurred at an AquaPaddle event. 

You may see unexplained, frequent or unusual injuries. You may notice fear of contact, fear of adults, reluctance to uncover their body (wearing long sleeves/trousers in hot weather), or physical aggression towards others. You may witness someone hitting/pushing/hurting someone during or after an event. 

Emotional/mental/psychological abuse 

The ongoing emotional maltreatment of another person. It can seriously damage a person’s emotional health and development. 

You may see someone humiliating or constantly criticising a child or vulnerable adult, threatening them or calling them names, or pushing them too hard and not recognising their limitations.  

Sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation 

Being forced, or persuaded, to take part in sexual activities. A child under the age of consent (which differs from country to country), can never legally consent to any sexual activity. 

It doesn’t have to involve physical contact, it can include being forced to watch pornography, or it can happen online. 

Sexual exploitation is also a type of sexual abuse. Those in exploitative situations and relationships usually receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities. Victims of sexual exploitation may also be groomed and exploited online. 

Those who have been or are being sexually abused may be very shy or show fear of adults/other people. Children who are being/have been sexually abused might show sexual behaviour and language that is inappropriate for their age. 

Other indicators may include inappropriate levels of familiarity with adults. 

Engaging in a sexual relationship with a child is a criminal offence. Any such relationship may result in disciplinary action, and the involvement of external services including the police. 

Neglect and self-neglect 

The most common form of child abuse and can be intentional or unintentional; neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child or a vulnerable adult’s basic needs. 

Signs include inappropriate clothing, for example, no warm clothes in the winter, or dirty/smelly clothing, always hungry or feeling faint, skin sores/rashes. 


When a person hurts themselves on purpose, for example by cutting, burning, the inappropriate taking of medicine, or disordered eating. 

You may notice cuts/pinch marks/burns on someone’s body, or if someone is an unhealthy weight (very over or underweight). 

Domestic abuse 

An incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour. In the majority of cases, this is by a partner or ex-partner but can also be a family member or carer. Domestic abuse can often continue after separation, and this can be a time of greater risk of harm. 

Adults being domestically abused may be very nervous, reluctant to talk to new people, or to do anything (go for coffee, change their plans etc), without first getting their partner’s permission. They may not have access to their own money, car, phone etc, and be disproportionately scared of getting things wrong. 

In some cases, paddlers at risk of domestic abuse may wish to keep their attendance at AquaPaddle private and may request that images are not shared online, and names are not used. 


Repeated behaviour, which is intended to hurt someone emotionally or physically, and is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, ability or disability. It can be carried out by, and aimed at, both children and adults. 

You may witness children or adults repeatedly teasing each other, singling others out, or purposefully excluding others, forming groups that others aren’t a part of. Please don’t label children or adults ‘bullies’ if you witness this sort of behaviour but do address it and contact the Safeguarding Team for support. 

Other types of abuse 

May include female genital mutilation, modern slavery, financial, organisational, discriminatory, and self-neglect, but in the AquaPaddle environment, it is unlikely that there would be clear indicators of these. As always, if you have any concerns about someone at AquaPaddle, speak to the AquaPaddle Captain or contact the Safeguarding Team. 

AquaPaddle asks that event teams never make a decision on whether someone is at risk of, or likely to suffer, harm, or deal with concerns or safeguarding incidents on their own. If concerns are raised at all, it is essential that the Safeguarding Process is followed. 

Other types of safeguarding incidents 

Whilst the following categories are not abuse, they are included here as they are incidents of concern, with the potential risk of harm, that may happen at Aquapaddle events: 

  • Pushy parenting  
  • Over-familiarity, positions of trust and physical contact 
  • Unaccompanied children and children’s participation 
  • General safety 
  • Missing person

Pushy parenting

This has been found to happen at other non-competitive sporting events.   AquaPaddle events should always be fun and parents should help their children to have fun and participate positively without any “pushy behaviour”.  We don’t expect to observe this sort of behaviour in a paddleboarding event.  However, if it is observed it should be brought to the attention of the event Captain who will speak to the parents or guardians involved and explain the fun and supportive nature of the event.  If the behaviour continues this will be brought to the attending of the Safeguarding Team by the Captain and the team will decide who (how?) to address the behaviour. 

Over-familiarity, positions of trust and physical contact 

Everyone who works with children and/or vulnerable adults is in a position of trust. No one in a position of trust should encourage a physically or emotionally dependent relationship to develop between themselves and anyone in their care, whether that be with a child or a vulnerable adult. 

Physical contact, however well-intentioned, may be misinterpreted; however, a no-touch approach for adults who work with children, or other adults, is often impractical. Everyone is different and every situation is unique, therefore AquaPaddle crew / volunteers should take a common-sense approach, maintain a self-awareness, and judge what is appropriate based on the needs of the individual situation. 

There could be occasions when paddlers, particularly vulnerable adults and children, become overly familiar with or dependent on, crew, volunteers or other adult paddlers. This can put both parties in a compromising position. 

All adults should be aware of the possibility that a child or vulnerable adult may become dependent, emotionally attached or overly familiar, and take steps to address the issue should they deem that such behaviour is becoming inappropriate. 

Should this happen, we would advise the person to alert the AquaPaddle Captain who can then speak with the child’s parents/adult in question to inform them of the situation. It is essential that the Safeguarding Reporting Process (see below) is followed in these situations.

General Safety 

In the operating policy for events and coaching safety requirements and equipment will be set out for all paddlers, including use of Buoyancy Aids and leashes (with waist leashes where appropriate).   

In an AquaPaddle setting, the main concerns around safety will be in relation to ability to paddle and paddling practices.   A briefing will be given before each event, whether it be an AquaPaddle or a coaching session.   But if unsafe practices are noticed by any of the team action should be taken.  Depending on the severity of the practice, this may be words of advice.  However, anything that is likely to cause a lack of safety for the paddler or other users of the river should be brought to the attention of the AquaPaddle Captain.   

This could include (but is not an exhaustive list): 

  • Paddling aggressively near other paddlers to gain time advantage 
  • Paddling off route so that the crew cannot keep a visual check on the participant 
  • Removal of safety equipment such as buoyancy aids and waist leashes  
  • Inadequate inflation of boards 
  • Improper launching and landing  
  • Not looking after a child at an AquaPaddle event or a dog on board a paddleboard 

People taking part should be physically capable of padding for 5k and able to self-rescue if they fall off of their board. If on the day the AquaPaddle Captain or member of crew feel that any person is struggling to complete the route, they will be sensitively asked to withdraw from the 5k.   If in doubt, contact the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team [email protected]

For people not yet able to paddle 5k or self-rescue, AquaPaddle can put them in touch with a local provider who can coach them to get to this standard and allow them to join an AquaPaddle.  


All injuries occurring in an AquaPaddle setting should be reported on the online Incident Reporting Form. This can be completed by a member of crew or AquaPaddle Captain. The details can be forwarded to the paddler if required. All incidents that are logged are available to the Safeguarding Team.  

The Safeguarding Team will monitor injuries occurring for any trends and learning that can be applied to safety of events.  

Missing person

AquaPaddle events are held in areas of open space and therefore, although unlikely, it is possible for people to go missing. The Missing Person at an AquaPaddle Event, see below, should be followed should anyone go missing. 

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Responding to and Reporting Safeguarding Incidents/Concerns of Abuse 

Due to the very open, public nature of an AquaPaddle event, the risk of abuse taking place in an AquaPaddle context is low, as are the chances of someone disclosing abuse. However, despite the risk being low, concerns should never be ignored, and we should not assume that it is someone else’s responsibility. 

Everyone involved in AquaPaddle has a responsibility to raise concerns about abuse (potential or actual) or unacceptable behaviour, in order to prevent the problem increasing and to protect or reduce the risk to others. 

It is important that confidentiality is maintained at all times, and disclosure should take place only on a ‘need to know’ basis, remembering to keep the information restricted to as small a circle as possible. Failure to keep the information confidential may lead to disciplinary action. 

Event teams should never make a decision on whether someone is at risk of, or likely to suffer harm, or deal with concerns or safeguarding incidents on their own; if concerns are raised at all, it is essential that our Safeguarding Reporting Process is followed. 

Safeguarding Reporting Process 

If you are contacted by the police, or other services, such as children’s social services, disclosing or requesting any information about anyone connected with AquaPaddle in any capacity, please do: 

  • Take down the agency’s contact details (name, telephone number, email address) and pass these details on to [email protected] 
  • Direct them on to the AquaPaddle safeguarding team 
  • Keep any information you are given confidential 

Please do not: 

  • Let the rest of your team know 
  • Contact the individual in question 
  • Agree to taking any actions 
  • Take any actions (for example, please don’t issue any bans, remove the individual from the volunteer roster etc.) 

The safeguarding team will liaise directly with the body that is disclosing information and will come back to the event team to update them with anything appropriate that they need to know. 

Reporting in a non-emergency situation 

If you have any non-emergency/non-urgent concerns of a safeguarding nature, you must: 

  • Record details of the incident, including names of those involved, AquaPaddle IDs, times and dates 
  • If a child reports abuse to you directly, please use the words the child has used and don’t reword it, or lead the wording 
  • Report it to the AquaPaddle Captain, who must then report it to AquaPaddle Safeguarding team via email or telephone 
  • If either the AquaPaddle Captain is the alleged perpetrator, or there are concerns that she or he won’t report it to HQ, you should contact the Safeguarding Team directly via email 

Records may be passed, by the AquaPaddle Safeguard Team to relevant external agencies, such as the police or social services. AquaPaddle stores safeguarding files online using a secure process. 

Reporting in an emergency situation 

Should you feel that anyone, child or adult, within an AquaPaddle setting may be at immediate risk of harm, you should: 

  • Call the police, RNLI or Coastguard on 999 as appropriate (depending on the nature of the incident) and follow their advice 
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure the individual at risk is safeguarded 
  • Do not take actions that would put your own safety at risk 

Once the incident is under control, ensure it is reported to a member of the Aquapaddle Safeguarding Team as soon as possible. 

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Confidentiality and Information Sharing 

Please ensure that all safeguarding concerns are shared with AquaPaddles’s Safeguarding Team, even if you have already shared them with external services. 

Information sharing between relevant bodies, groups and agencies is important to be able to properly safeguard and promote the welfare of children and adults at risk. Often, it is only when information from a number of sources has been shared, collated, and analysed, that it becomes clear someone is suffering or is likely to suffer, harm. Therefore, to keep everybody safe, information needs to be shared appropriately so that decisions can be made to protect them. 

Clear boundaries around information sharing are also important to maintain confidentiality, and to ensure that only those who need the information are made aware of it. However, concerns over confidentiality must never prevent an individual sharing information with appropriate and relevant persons, when not doing so may prevent appropriate safeguarding action and place someone at risk. 

Decisions about information sharing need to be made, whenever anyone at AquaPaddle receives information that raises concerns. 

There may be times when media (such as television, radio, websites, or journalists), show interest in something related to a specific event, or to AquaPaddle in general, and seek information from volunteers or participants. It is important that event teams make no comment, and refer any media enquiries to [email protected]  

Individuals and teams should never pass comment or opinion regarding safeguarding issues on any social media that is connected to the event. If matters related to AquaPaddle or people you know through AquaPaddle are presented on social media, it can become extremely challenging for us to provide support. 

Who to share information with 

Paddlers and Crew/ volunteers should, as a first step, only share safeguarding concerns with the AquaPaddle Captain, or a member of the Safeguarding Team. 

Our Safeguarding Team will then make decisions as to any further individuals or organisations who should be made aware. Part of this safeguarding decision-making process will include consideration about who to share information with. This could include: 

  • Statutory organisations such as the police and/or appropriate children’s or social services, who must be informed about child protection concerns 
  • Bodies who carry out criminal record background checks may need to be informed 
  • Other clubs and other sports organisations will need to be considered, in order that they themselves can safeguard children and vulnerable adults in their care who may be at risk of harm 
  • Internally, at Aquapaddle we only ever share safeguarding information on a strictly governed need-to-know basis 

Our policy is that only those that need to know are told. This means only those individuals stated within the reporting structure, need to know, and no one else unless directed by statutory agencies. 

If we request that information is kept confidential, it is essential that this is adhered to, as failure to do so could significantly increase the risk to the welfare of vulnerable individuals and may lead to disciplinary action or being stepped down from a role. 

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Children at AquaPaddle Events 

Taking part in an AquaPaddle (5k) 

Children are the future of AquaPaddle and, once a route and provider has tested the AquaPaddle (5k) event, children are welcome at AquaPaddle 5ks. Our policy is that 5 events should be held at each AquaPaddle (5K) setting with adults only to test the route and identify any safety issues that need addressing. Once the route has been tested to be safe, children will be welcome. 

A ‘child’ is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. 

Children between the age of 7 and 11 will be allowed to take part by sitting on the board of a parent/ guardian or nominated responsible adult. A nominated responsible adult is defined as someone the child’s parent/ guardian has nominated to be responsible for their child for the duration of the AquaPaddle. 

Only one child is allowed on an adult’s board at an event. An adult may not bring a child and a dog on the same board.  

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 (up to their 18th birthday) can paddle on their own boards. They should be accompanied by their parent/ guarding or nominated adult whilst on the water. The adult should keep the child in sight at all times. Where a child has gone out of sight of the accompanying adult (for example is a faster paddler) one of the water-based crew at the event will paddle with them back to their accompanying adult. This is to ensure the safeguarding of children and the volunteers at an AquaPaddle (5k).  

There should only be one child per one responsible adult.  

The responsible adult should ensure their child is kept in sight at all times whilst on land and is responsible for their safety. As with adults, children paddling on their board should be physically capable of padding for 5k and able to self-rescue if they fall off of their board.   If on the day the AquaPaddle Captain or member of crew feel that any person is struggling to complete the course, the child and the accompanying adult will be sensitively asked to withdraw from the 5k. 

Children under the age of 7 are not permitted to take part in an AquaPaddle event. 

Child Volunteers can volunteer from the age of 12 but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and can only do land-based roles.

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Dogs at AquaPaddle  

Dogs have been part of paddle sports for years and with the growth of Paddle Boarding, it is natural for dog owners to take the dogs with them on the boards. However, dogs are not for everyone and can cause damage to craft, especially to Paddle Boards. We ask dog owning AquaPaddlers to abide by the following rules:  

  1. Only one dog per person per board. Most of the AquaPaddles allow dogs, but please check the events webpage beforehand.  
  2. Dogs should be kept under firm control, on a short lead or a harness with a short lead, and care must be taken to avoid tripping others, during launch. Once out on the water, crafts with dogs should space themselves out so as not to get the dogs excited and risk them jumping onto other craft.  
  3. Dogs should not be registered as AquaPaddle participants. Any registration allocated to a dog, or any other animal, will be deleted and any associated results will be removed.    
  4. AquaPaddlers are responsible for the welfare of their own dog and cleaning up their mess.   
  5. Where a dog barking prevents other participants from hearing the pre-event briefing, the briefing will be paused, and the owner should move the dog away to stop this happening.  
  6. Dog owners are asked to launch their craft ahead of most other AquaPaddlers or away from the main launch points.   
  7. Dog owners must remember that having your dog at an AquaPaddle event is a privilege and not a right. If a dog becomes unruly, the AquaPaddle Captain has the right to ask for the dog to be removed. If this request is not followed, then the AquaPaddlers time will not be recorded for the event.  
  8. Owners need to be aware that a lot of children and some adults fear dogs and it is the owner’s responsibility to mitigate these circumstances.   
  9. In the event that a dog falls or jumps off the board into the water, then the paddler must ensure that it does not become a risk to other paddlers.  Also, they must take full personal responsibility for recovering the dog, and should NOT ask, encourage or expect any other paddler to put themselves at any degree of risk to rescue their dog.  

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Criminal Record Checking 

AquaPaddle has determined that all AquaPaddle Captains are required to have a DBS check. In addition, there will be at least one crew member on the water who has a current DBS check.  

Other volunteers/ crew are not required to have a DBS check.  

All people involved in delivering an AquaPaddle event are required to read this safeguarding policy and agreed to uphold its contents.  

The relevant criminal record checking requirements for England / Wales and Scotland are outlined below: 

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For both safeguarding and health & safety reasons, it is important that AquaPaddle events do not provide or manage toilets, showers or changing room facilities.

Facilities such as these may be available at some AquaPaddle sites, however, it is important that event Crews understand that they must always be used at people’s own risk.

Crews must not be responsible for their use or cleaning and must not provide any AquaPaddle branded signage or in any way suggest they are an AquaPaddle-provided or managed facility.

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Missing Person at AquaPaddle Procedure 

AquaPaddle events are held in areas of open water and therefore, although unlikely, it is possible for people to go missing. The following procedure should be followed if anyone goes missing: 

  • Inform the AquaPaddle Captain of the situation 
  • The AquaPaddle Captain should ensure that all other participants continue to be supervised appropriately whilst a search for the missing person is carried out 
  • The AquaPaddle Captain should gather a detailed description of the missing person, including:
    • Gender 
    • Age 
    • Height 
    • Build 
    • Clothing/ buoyancy aid colour etc 
    • Paddleboard make/ colour 
    • Last known location  
    • Mobile phone number  
    • Any other distinguishing features and/or relevant information
  • The AquaPaddle Captain should divide the location into search areas and organise the remaining available responsible adults to conduct a search, allocating each adult to a specific area, ensuring that:
    • Every responsible adult has the mobile phone number of the AquaPaddle Captain 
    • Every responsible adult knows what time to report back to the AquaPaddle Captain 
  • The search area will include on the water.   All competent paddlers should work in pairs to cover a search area.  A competent paddler includes anyone identified with rescue training or a regular known paddler to the event.    All other paddlers should return to the event start/ finish point.  
  • The AquaPaddle Captain should allocate a volunteer to try and locate the parent/carer/family of the missing person to inform them of the situation and reassure them that the team is doing all they can to locate them 
  • If the search is unsuccessful the AquaPaddle must report the missing person to the police and the Coastguard/ RNLI, no later than five minutes after the person’s disappearance is noted, even if the search is not complete. Earlier if advised by the AquaPaddle Captain. They should then follow official lead agency guidance. 
  • Immediately after, the AquaPaddle Captain should call the AquaPaddle CEO (Brett Scillitoe) or Chair of Trustees (Arnold Jager) or another member of the Safeguarding Team if either the CEO or Chair of Trustees is unavailable.  
  • If/when the missing person is located, the AquaPaddle Captain should inform all adults involved including the parent/carer/family, searchers and any external agencies they have involved, as soon as possible 
  • If the missing person is found but is unconscious, then the Marshals will instigate water rescue and first aid. The First Aider on site will make their way to the incident with all haste. Emergency services should also be called immediately. 
  • When the incident is resolved, the AquaPaddle should create an incident report and send it to the Safeguarding Team.  
  • Whilst searching is carried out, the AquaPaddle event will be halted.  

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Whistleblowing is when someone reports suspected wrongdoing in their organisation. Everyone has the right to report things that aren’t correct, are illegal, or if they feel anyone is neglecting their duties. Whistleblowing allows individuals to raise issues of poor practice or misconduct without fear of reprisal. The concept of whistleblowing is important in any organisation that is committed to maintaining appropriate levels of safeguarding and good practice. In an AquaPaddle context, someone may witness, or be told about, a situation of poor practice, a failure to safeguard, or an incident or alleged incident of abuse in which a fellow paddler is implicated. 

AquaPaddle is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty and accountability. In line with that commitment, individuals are encouraged to come forward and voice any concerns they have about any aspect of a person’s safety and welfare. Concerns must never be ignored with the assumption that all will be well, or that it is someone else’s responsibility, and as such, should anyone have a concern, the Whistleblowing Policy should be followed without delay. 

The AquaPaddle Whistleblowing Policy 

AquaPaddle will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation and will take appropriate action to protect an individual when they raise a concern in good faith, however, it must be appreciated that the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and a statement by the whistleblower may be required as part of the evidence. Advance notice will always be given, and a chance offered to discuss any potential consequences. 

If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against them. If, however, it is established that they have made fraudulent or malicious allegations, or done so for personal gain, AquaPaddle will take appropriate action. 

Concerns should be raised, in the first instance, with the AquaPaddle Captain on the day.  Should the AquaPaddle Captain be implicated in the concern, it should be raised directly with the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team via [email protected]. The whistleblower can put it in writing if they wish, in which case they should do the following: 

  • Set the background and history of the concern 
  • Provide
    • Names 
    • Dates 
    • Locations 
    • Specific reasons they are concerned 

The AquaPaddle Captain must inform the Safeguarding Team via [email protected] and not investigate the matter themselves. 

The action taken by AquaPaddle will depend on the nature of the concern. 

The amount of contact between the people considering the issues and the whistleblower will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, other information will be sought from the whistleblower as part of the investigation process. 

AquaPaddle accepts that the whistleblower needs to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. However, they must also consider that there will be times when, due to a need for confidentiality, certain information may not be shared with them. Subject to constraints and a need for confidentiality, they will receive information about the outcomes of any investigations, and the action that is to be taken against those whose actions caused them concern. 

The whistleblower must, when instructed, keep any information shared with them confidential. 

This policy is intended to provide individuals with a way in which they can raise concerns about the safety and welfare of anyone involved in AquaPaddle. Should someone not be satisfied that any safeguarding issue raised has been considered appropriately, and if they feel it is right to take the matter outside of AquaPaddle, they should contact the relevant external organisation in their country, for example, the police or child protection services. 

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Social Media Safeguarding Guide 

Social media is a great way for AquaPaddle events and paddlers to interact with each other, share photos, make announcements and share inspirational stories from around the world. The purpose of this guide is twofold; to outline how AquaPaddle expects volunteers and staff need to behave on social media, and to provide helpful advice for the safe use of social media. 

For some adults, a major obstacle when it comes to using social media and technology safely, and for supporting the safeguarding of young people, is a lack of knowledge on the adult’s part. Developing a basic knowledge of the technology used by AquaPaddle events can help everyone keep safe. 

We recommend as a helpful resource for parents, young people and professionals, raising awareness and improving knowledge around keeping people safe online. 

There may be times when local, national or international media shows interest in something related to your event, or to AquaPaddle in general, and seeks information from volunteers or participants. Particularly with regards to safeguarding-related issues, it is important that event teams make no comment, and refer any media enquiries to [email protected] 

In addition, it is important that teams pass no comment or opinion relating to safeguarding issues, on any social media that is connected to the event. This includes their own personal social media accounts. 

The publishing of photos and videos on social media is governed by the AquaPaddle Photography Policy and the AquaPaddle Social Media Policy. In addition, try to avoid fuelling cyberbullying by being thoughtful and considerate with the images you are posting. Once out there it can be very difficult, and at times impossible, to delete them. 

Always be aware that social networking sites are public and are bound by the law. Please do not post negative, unpleasant or defamatory remarks, comments or photos on social media. Once such comments are posted they are impossible to fully delete and can cause upset and damage to reputations. Incidents or disputes that spill over onto social media can be blown out of proportion and can become much harder to resolve. 

If you have any concerns about online content related to AquaPaddle always report it to the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team via [email protected] 

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call the police in the first instance. 

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Bullying and Harassment 


Everyone is entitled to participate in, and enjoy, AquaPaddle, in an environment where they feel safe and secure.  

If you witness bullying, or are told it has taken/is taking place at an event: 

  • Always take it seriously, regardless of who is reporting it and how improbable it sounds 
  • Listen without judgement to everything you are being told 
  • Reassure that AquaPaddle will take it seriously and that no action will be taken without first consulting with all parties 
  • Never promise to keep something secret, but do reassure that only those who need to know will be involved 
  • Report it to the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team, via [email protected] at the earliest opportunity 
  • Do not impose any sanctions yourself without first contacting AquaPaddle safeguarding team. 


Harassment is generally described as ‘unwanted conduct which affects the dignity of women or men; it encompasses unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour which denigrates or ridicules or is intimidatory’. The essential characteristic of harassment is that the action is unwanted by the recipient. 

Harassment can take many forms and may be directed in particular against women and ethnic minorities or towards people because of their age, disability, gender/gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. It may involve action, behaviour, comment or physical contact which is found objectionable, or which causes offence; it can result in the recipient feeling threatened, humiliated or patronised and it can create an intimidating environment. 

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can be defined as an uninvited, unreciprocated and unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature which is offensive to the person involved and causes that person to feel threatened, humiliated or embarrassed. 

Sexual harassment may be experienced by anyone. Examples of sexual harassment include: 

  • Requests for sexual favours, including implied or overt promises of preferential treatment or threats 
  • Offensive gestures or comments 
  • Sexually-orientated jibes, innuendo or jokes 
  • Unwanted physical contact 

Racial or sectarian harassment 

Racial or sectarian harassment may take the form of actual or threatened physical abuse or it may involve offensive jokes, verbal abuse, language, graffiti or literature of a racist or sectarian nature, or offensive remarks about a person’s skin colour, physical characteristics or religion. It may also include repeated exclusion of a person of an ethnic or religious minority from conversations, patronising remarks, or unfair allocation of work. 

Responsibilities of AquaPaddle Captains 

AquaPaddle Captains have an obligation to take immediate action if harassment or bullying has been identified, whether or not a complaint has been made. Allegations of harassment or bullying, received either informally or formally, must be dealt with promptly and sensitively. 

Any allegations of harassment or bullying that an AquaPaddle Captain receives must be reported immediately to the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team via [email protected] 

Procedure for dealing with bullying or harassment 

Anyone who feels that they are being subjected to bullying or harassment may attempt to resolve the matter informally in the first instance. In some cases, it may be possible and sufficient for them to explain clearly to the person(s) engaged in the unwanted activities that the behaviour is unwelcome, that it offends or makes them uncomfortable. 

Anyone who feels that they are being bullied or harassed should keep a record of any incidents, detailing when, where, what occurred, and witnesses (if any). 

In some cases, victims of bullying or harassment may not be sufficiently confident to tell the harasser that their behaviour is unacceptable. AquaPaddle emphasises therefore that you are not required to approach the harasser in an attempt to resolve the problem informally, and are entitled to report the matter to the event team or the AquaPaddle Safeguarding Team immediately if they wish to do so. 

The AquaPaddle Captain will escalate the matter to the Safeguarding Team.  The appropriate member of staff will then discuss the matter with the complainant and agree on a course of action. The alleged harasser will also have the right to state their version of events. 

If it is agreed that the bullying or harassment has reached a criminal level, the appropriate staff member from the AquaPaddle Safeguarding team will recommend reporting it to the police and will support an individual in doing so if appropriate. 

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