Advice for SOs/ WOs - Scenarios that can occur


At national level the general thrust of work relating to safeguarding the vulnerable is aimed at establishing guidelines and appropriate procedures to help clubs and others in the Family of Bowls understand their moral obligations. From these standards, expected behaviour and codes of conduct can readily be set for the sport and measured against those of other agencies. Following these guidelines Club Secretaries and Welfare officers gladly register under the DBS vetting system.

This is all very comforting, but what happens when their safeguarding comes face to face with the paedophile and issues of Human rights?

Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme

Since March 2011 all county constabularies have been required to operate the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, generally referred to as Sarah’s Law.

The object of this advice note is not to consider details of the scheme since they are readily available on County Constabulary and Home Office Websites.

It is, however, to enlighten you on a cautionary tale and a paint a scenario for consideration and issues which the SO/WO or Club Secretary in a club could confront.


A public bowls club took part in a local BDA intervention activity (Bowls4All), and several participants decided to join, completed membership application forms and paid the club fee.

Club regulations required that all applications be displayed at the club for seven days and during this period an existing member complained to the club committee that one of the applicants was a convicted paedophile. The problem was passed to the Secretary to consider what could be done in the light of human rights and rehabilitation of offenders legislation etc.

Unable to find a ready answer on the bowls child protection website (www.bowlschildprotect.co.uk), the club secretary spoke to an advisor at NSPCC who recommended that they contact the local police and seek information under the new Sarah’s Law Scheme. The advisor warned that the Club Secretary would need to be persistent.

Attending the local police station, the Club Secretary found it needed some persuasion to motivate the officers before they would complete and despatch the necessary request for disclosure form. The Club Secretary was required to give proof of identity (Passport); show he had a duty of care (his role as SO/WO); and demonstrate how children could be at risk (public use of toilets and changing rooms). He also emphasised the possible danger to the individual from local parent groups and others using the park.

A week later, the club secretary was visited by members of the Public Protection Unit (PPU) who supplied copies of Home Office publications. Following their subsequent visit to the applicant, his request for membership of the club was withdrawn! a welcome relief to the Club Secretary.

Subsequently he was contacted again by the PPU wishing to complete the application for disclosure and make facts known to the Secretary alone. This change was to cover the eventuality of a later application by the offender, thereby necessitating police conditions to his membership.

Cautionary Note: Disclosure will only be made to the individual having direct responsibility and interest in the subject matter. Therefore it was necessary for the Club Secretary (in his capacity as SO/WO) to work alone in this case, but throughout the exercise he received background support from the relevant county officials and national panel members.

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