Safeguarding for Research Projects
Safeguarding for Research Projects
Safeguarding is the action taken to promote the welfare of children under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm. Within research projects this may include staff, students and collaborators, as well as anyone directly affected by our research and teaching activities on campus, and at research and fieldwork sites in the UK or overseas e.g. research subjects, patients, etc.
Our main funders, including UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, require the College to ensure that Safeguarding implications are properly considered and managed during the lifetime of the project. The UK Collaboration on Development Research (UKCDR) is working with research funders to “play a leadership role in setting a clear tone and high expectations around safeguarding in international development research, and to ensure harmonisation of safeguarding practices across the sector.”
As part of project delivery and risk assessment planning, the research team should consider Imperial’s Child Protection and Adults at Risk Safeguarding Policy [pdf] and Child Protection and Safeguarding Code of Practice [pdf] which outline both duty of care responsibilities and guidelines for those carrying out activities involving children and vulnerable adults.
In addition, the College has a number of existing policies and procedures to support researchers in the identification and mitigation of Safeguarding concerns:
As part of the project’s Safeguarding responsibilities, Imperial’s Research Integrity guidance will help you to assess the suitability of both the research environment and any formal or informal relationships with anyone involved in the project. Policy advice includes:
Working Overseas and Due Diligence
Download the Safeguarding Internationally (pdf) leaflet for guidance on what safeguarding is; what your responsibilities are; and what to do if a safeguarding concern comes to your attention.
When planning projects overseas, the project leader should consider Imperial’s moral and legal duty of care within the context of local customs, laws and expectations. The Overseas working guidance [pdf] provides advice and support in undertaking the following Safeguarding-related assessments:
- On-site health and safety arrangements
- Support of academic freedom in the country or region of operation
- Awareness of cultural differences and expectations
- Local immigration and employment requirements
- Knowledge of local law
- Understanding of travel restrictions, sanctions and embargos in the region
- Awareness of local taxation, pensions and insurance implications associated with the project
- Locating local healthcare support
- Purchasing regulations
- Potential data protection issues
- Determining exit strategies and evacuation procedure in the event of emergency
Further guidance on assessing and managing financial, reputational, ethical, safeguarding and geo-political risks when working overseas and with research third party organisations can be found here: Undertaking Due Diligence and Overseas Research Toolkit
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Imperial College London is fully committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across its research sites and the following Safeguarding-related policies should be reflected in any project-plan:
- Harassment, Bullying and Victimisation
- Disability support
- Health and Wellbeing (including mental health)
- Online learning
Misconduct and Grievance Procedures
If things go wrong, anyone working on the project should be able to raise concerns with impunity through the established escalation routes outlined below:
- Child Protection and Adults at Risk Safeguarding Policy [pdf] and Child Protection and Safeguarding Code of Practice [pdf] - provides guidance on how to respond to suspicions/allegations of child abuse (Annex A) and harm to vulnerable adults (Annex E) and the appropriate Safeguarding Officer for referral (Annex H)
- Whistleblowing policy as part of College Ordinance 18 on reporting malpractice
- Grievance Procedure
- Research misconduct guidance as part of College Ordinance D17 - Research Misconduct (Nov 2020)
As part of the contracting process, Principal Investigators are accountable for disseminating these policies to research partners and participants, ensuring their practical implementation, and monitoring research activities as part of their grant management and reporting responsibilities.
For specific questions on Safeguarding in a research context, please click on link for further support.
The Research Office website has further guidance for academics on Managing Projects and additional responsibilities when working overseas.
If you are working with UK and overseas research partners, you can find out more about third party due diligence requirements on the Undertaking Due Diligence webpage.