Nominated child protection lead or designated safeguarding officer

Last updated: 06 Feb 2020 Topics: Safeguarding and child protection

Every organisation that works with children needs to have someone that takes the lead on safeguarding and child protection. We refer to them as a nominated child protection lead but they may also be known as:

  • Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO)
  • Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
  • "Named person" for child protection
  • Child protection officer
  • Child protection lead
  • Safeguarding or child protection coordinator.

The role may be performed by one person or split between staff. Larger organisations may have a safeguarding team. Boards of governors, trustees and management committees should also have someone who is responsible for safeguarding. In some organisations the nominated child protection lead also has other roles to perform.

> Find out more about safeguarding for trustees

> Find out more about the roles and responsibilities of school governors

> Find out more about the role of the nominated child protection lead in schools

You should also make sure that you have procedures in place to respond to child protection concerns when your nominated lead is absent or unavailable. This could include nominating someone who is trained to act as a deputy. You can also contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice or to report any concerns. Make sure that you keep clear records and communicate what's happened and the steps you've taken to your nominated child protection lead on their return. 

Example role description for nominated child protection lead

We've created an example role description which you can use to make sure everyone in your organisation understands the important role of the nominated child protection lead. It should be used in conjunction with our information and resources on safeguarding and child protection

Everyone who is taking the lead on safeguarding and child protection should be fully trained to carry out their role.

> See our training courses for nominated or designated child protection leads

Role and responsibilities

What does a nominated child protection lead or designated safeguarding officer do?

We all have a responsibility to keep children safe. The nominated child protection lead has additional responsibilities in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children and young people involved in an organisation.

The nominated child protection lead is the point of contact for anyone in an organisation who is concerned about a child. The role is also responsible for leading on:

  • safeguarding policies and procedures
  • training and development 
  • receiving concerns about a child
  • reporting, storing and retaining child protection records following the organisation’s policies and procedures.

> Listen to our podcast about the role of the nominated child protection lead

> Find out more about the role of the nominated child protection lead in schools

Safeguarding policies and procedures

The nominated child protection lead takes a lead role in developing, implementing and reviewing the organisation's safeguarding policies and procedures. They also make sure that everyone - including staff, volunteers, children and families - is aware of the policies and procedures and what to do if they are worried about a child.

> Find out more about safeguarding policies and procedures

> Find out more about assessing your safeguarding measures

Training and development

It's important that everyone in an organisation understands their safeguarding responsibilities. The nominated child protection lead ensures that everyone, including themselves, has access to training and stays up-to-date on safeguarding and any changes in the law and guidance.

> See our training courses for nominated or designated child protection leads

> Sign up to CASPAR to stay up-to-date with the latest safeguarding and child protection news

Receiving and reporting concerns about a child

If anyone has a concern about a child they should contact their nominated child protection lead. The nominated lead receives and records any information about child protection concerns, including any concerns that an adult involved with the organisation may pose a risk to children or young people. They are responsible for referrals to and liaising with statutory agencies.

> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse

Reporting, retention and storage of records

The nominated child protection lead is responsible for making sure that safeguarding records are kept securely according to the organisation's safeguarding policies and procedures. They also report to the organisation's board or management committee about safeguarding issues. 

> Find out more about child protection records retention and storage

Training and support

Safeguarding training and support

A nominated child protection lead should have a thorough understanding of safeguarding issues. It's essential that they are trained in:

  • the law and guidance on safeguarding
  • types of abuse and the signs and indicators to look for
  • how to build a safe culture so that people are safe and willing to share concerns
  • barriers to disclosure and recognition of safeguarding issue
  • safer recruitment
  • listening to and supporting those who have concerns.

Safeguarding is a continual process so it's also important that the nominated child protection lead has ongoing support in their role.

> Take our training courses for nominated or designated child protection leads

> Find out more about how charity trustees can support the safeguarding lead

> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse