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The ASA Child Welfare Complaints Procedure

The Procedure

Step One – Informal Resolution Locally Timescale: Immediate

As a member of the ASA, when a child, parent or carer has made a complaint or drawn to your attention a concern, you must first assess as to whether it is appropriate for you to resolve it.
In general terms if it is minor in its nature and if you are able to address the concern, you should do so. Ideally, if at all possible, you should consult your swim school Welfare Officer, which is allocated by the swim school, before embarking on any course of action.
Confidentiality must be maintained on a “need to know basis” i.e. only the coach, the Welfare Officer and child’s parents may need to know of a concern and no one else.
Sometimes the individuals involved may need to be extended to the Team Manager (for example a child causing distress to another during club sessions). The important factor is to keep the information restricted to as small a circle as possible.

Step Two – Resolution through Club Welfare Officer Timescale: Intervention 7 Days

The primary role of the swim school Welfare Officer will be to resolve to the satisfaction of the child, parent, guardian, carer or anyone else the welfare issues complained of, if at all possible.
A swim school Welfare Officer may have matters referred to them for example through Step One or may have matters brought directly to their attention.
The swim school Welfare Officer will consider the nature of the complaint and if they are able to address the concern. It is anticipated that swim school Welfare Officer will be able to address issues such as minor club rule infringements, poor practice and bullying through the club’s own complaints process. Guidance and support can be obtained from the ASA ICPO at any time.
If the assistance of the ASA ICPO is not sought before the issues are resolved, the concerns and outcomes should be reported to the ASA ICPO afterwards.
The swim school Welfare Officer should at all times be mindful of the support and guidance that can be accessed from the ASA ICPO and that concerns to be dealt with by a swim school Welfare Officer should be child welfare concerns only. Matters of child protection should be referred, where appropriate, immediately to the appropriate statutory authority (see 25 The ASA Child Welfare Complaints Procedure details in Wavepower – Welfare Officer’s information sheet) and to the ASA ICPO.

The swim school Welfare Officer must:
1. Record the details of the complaint – what was the problem?
2. How it was resolved? The actions taken and by whom (the Welfare Officer or others).
3. Observe confidentiality and secure storage of referral documentation (see appropriate policies within Wavepower).

Step Three – National Level – The ASA Independent Child Protection Officer Timescale: Intervention 3 Days

The ASA ICPO will have a right to be involved in any child welfare matter, which the ASA ICPO in consultation with the Director of Regulatory and Legal Affairs reviews and decides needs ASA intervention. For example:
1. Where one party remains unhappy that the problem has not been resolved at Step One or Step Two.
2. Where a matter is brought to the ASA ICPO’s attention by an ASA Welfare Officer at Steps One or Two.
3. At any stage, by direct referral to the ASA ICPO by an ASA member (child or adult), parent, guardian or carer of an ASA member.

Within three days of a child welfare complaint being brought to the attention of the ASA ICPO consideration will be given to section 2 (i) of the Protocols For Child Safeguarding Investigations found in the ASA Handbook.
The ASA ICPO will liaise with the club Welfare Officer to ensure that the club is handling the child welfare issue correctly. The club Welfare Officer will be responsible for ensuring that the club follows the ASA ICPO’s guidance. It is entirely a matter for the ASA ICPO as to the level of involvement and the guidance given.

At any point throughout the ASA ICPO’s involvement, the issues will be kept under constant review and a decision may be taken to:
1. Implement a referral to a statutory agency under section 2 (ii) of the Protocols. For Child Safeguarding Investigations or
2. Appoint an independent investigator to complete a fact-finding investigation under section 2 (iii) of the Protocols For Child Safeguarding Investigations or
3. Make a formal complaint under the ASA Judicial Regulations under section 2 (iv) of the Protocols For Child Safeguarding Investigations or
4. Take such action as recommended by the ASA ICPO (e.g. a direction that an individual be required to submit to a risk assessment or that the ASA file a complaint against a club or an individual).
All swim schools/clubs must note that if the guidance of the ASA ICPO is not followed the ASA ICPO may complete a report to the Director of Regulatory and Legal Affairs and may recommend that formal judicial complaint is filed against the club under ASA Judicial Regulations. The basis of a judicial complaint will be that the club has failed to comply with the required level expected of ASA clubs in complying with ASA Child Safeguarding.

In the case of clubs with Swim 21 accreditation, the ASA ICPO’s Report may alternatively be submitted to the National Swim 21 Panel recommending removal of Swim 21 accredited status, the basis of the recommendation being that the club has not met its requirements under ASA child safeguarding.

The above timescale provides an indication that within three days of being notified of a child welfare issue, the ASA ICPO will decide the level of his/her involvement and will inform all parties accordingly. The ASA ICPO will have the child’s welfare as the main concern and will try to resolve the issues with that main concern in mind. As a guide the ASA ICPO will try to achieve a successful resolution or to decide other appropriate action or to have concluded and closed the file within three months of the original referral.

Where a three month conclusion is not possible, e.g. because of the involvement of a statutory agency, the ASA ICPO will seek to keep the child (through their parent, guardian or carer) informed of progress being made.

No Appeal

The ASA ICPO’s final report as to the steps taken, closing the file and/or recommendation as to alternative action is final.
In the case of a decision being taken under ASA Child Protection Regulations 241 et al there shall be a right of appeal to the Independent Disciplinary and Dispute Resolution Appeals Panel against a decision of the Chief Executive.


Failure to comply with this procedure may result in a recommendation from the ASA ICPO that a club is not meeting its obligations under child safeguarding. This may result in a formal complaint or other action being taken under ASA Child Safeguarding Regulations 241 et al.
Any action complained of under the Child Welfare Complaint Procedure may amount to a breach of ASA Laws and Regulations or of the ASA Code of Ethics. Any ASA member may bring a complaint under the Judicial Regulations against an ASA member. It is therefore possible for a child welfare concern to amount to a breach of ASA Laws and Regulations or of the Code of Ethics and for a judicial complaint to be filed for the same set of circumstances.
It is a matter for the individual member as to whether or not they wish to file a judicial complaint whilst a matter is being dealt with under the Child Welfare Complaints Procedure. Where a judicial complaint is filed and a Child Welfare Complaint is also filed, the child welfare matter will take precedence.
This procedure is subject to continuous review and amendment as best practice evolves and accordingly the ASA reserves the right in particular cases to depart from the above and, accordingly, procedures where it is deemed to be appropriate by the ASA ICPO in consultation with the ASA Director of Regulatory and Legal Affairs.
November 2011

Published July 2013 (to be reviewed July 2017)