Duty of Care

Duty of Care

In relation to children and young people, Archery GB Clubs and shooting Members and Officials have a  “duty of care” which means that the Club, Officials and Members need to take reasonable measures to ensure that individuals will be safe to participate in Archery activities.

A “duty of care” is a legal concept imposed by common law or statute, by contract, or by acceptance by an individual.

There is no general “duty of care” upon members of the public towards the public at large, so a spectator has no duty of care in relation to competitors, except in exceptional circumstances, but archers and officials as well as the club have a duty of care towards spectators, although these vary.

If there is a formal relationship, however, for example between a club and a club member, or a coach and an athlete, there is a “duty of care”.  When children and young people are involved in organised sports activities and are to any extent under the care and/or control of one or more adults, the adult(s) have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety and welfare of the children and young people, both legally and morally.

The Legal “duty of care” has a strict definition.  The most obvious example of this is in Archery Health and Safety procedures where clear guidance is provided about what reasonable steps should be taken to minimise hazards related to activities, substances or situations.

Whilst a sports organisation, officials and individual (e.g. coach) owe a “duty of care” to each member and spectators etc, the law also understands that accidents can and do happen and that it is not possible to predict every eventuality and liability for breach of that legal “duty of care” would only arise when an incident occurs and it can be demonstrated that the risk was unforeseeable but no action had been taken to remedy it or the action taken had been negligent. The test is:

  • Is there a duty of care?
  • In the circumstances, is it fair, just and reasonable to impose a “duty of care”?
  • Is the Injury reasonably foreseeable;
  • Is there a proximal cause (i.e. is the injury linked to the event occurring) and
  • Was there a breach of the duty of care (i.e. negligence)
  • Did the plaintiff suffer damage as a result of the breach.

Sometimes there is a higher “duty of care” owed to children and young people and this is something that those working with children and young people must reflect and organisers etc must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults would be in a similar situation.

The higher duty of care also arises if a child is known to have learning difficulties or is known to have a medical condition which may make them more vulnerable than the average child to foreseeable risk of harm and it is for this reason that we require extensive medical information. Despite the Clubs inclusiveness policy, the Club may impose particular rules for LADAO members and may decline to accept anyone as a member where the risk assessment indicates that their membership may be deleterious to the club or create an unacceptable risk. This may mean that whilst physically disabled members will be readily welcomed into the club, we may decline membership for children suffering from Aspergers or Attention Deficit Disorder or other disabilities which mean that their membership as shooting members is unsafe or we may impose special conditions. As alternative archery clubs exist nearby, if we decline membership, you may appeal to the school under our processes but the school’s decision is final. There is no appeal against refusals or special conditions for Family and non-school Sibling decisions.

What is the Duty?
The duty when involved in a sports club is reasonably straightforward:  it is comparable to the duty of a teacher in charge of a class of children of the same age.  There have been many cases concerning liability for accidents suffered by school pupils while at school that can be usefully applied to the sports setting.  Out of these cases has evolved a general principle, which identifies the expected standard of care for teachers as that of a reasonably prudent parent, taking into account the fact that a teacher will have responsibility for a whole class of children.

This means that teachers are not required to achieve perfection with regard to their supervision of children, but that if they fall below the standards of a reasonably prudent parent and injury is suffered as a result, the teacher may be negligent.  Those responsible for the management and supervision of children and young people in a club setting should consider what steps they may need to take in order to demonstrate the reasonable standard of care.  Examples of this should include:

  • Keeping up to date registers of attendance;
  • Keeping up to date records of contact details;
  • Maintaining appropriate supervision ratios;
  • Maintaining up to date information on specific medical conditions – allergies, asthma, epilepsy;
  • Ensuring that first aid provision is available at the venue;
  • Ensuring those responsible for supervising children and young people have been subject to appropriate recruitment and selection processes.

We also have a rule that at least two adults must be present at all times and, if regularly officiating, that they must be DBS Checked. Every adult officiating will be expected to have attended NSPCC Safeguarding and Protecting Children courses. Where possible one of the adults present will be a teacher (this may not be the case at weekends).

One of the adults must correspond to the sex of the children participating. (i.e. if Girls are participating, one of the adults will be female. If Boys are participating, one of the adults will be male). This is necessary in case of injury. (for example, it would be totally inappropriate for a male official to have to, or be expected to, examine a potential nipple injury caused by the string on a bow).

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 require that employers must make risk assessments and specify controls to reduce the risks of their activities and similarly in Archery, both the field captain and the coach will carry out seasonal risk assessments. These are available upon request.  When carrying out risk assessments, it is vital to attend to the requirements relating to the “duty of care” and the other aspects of health and safety.

All equipment is checked before the start of each and every session and defective equipment quarantined.

Moral Duty of Care

Club, Officials and Coaches
The Moral “duty of care” is more correctly a responsibility for safety and welfare. Members of staff have a responsibility for those children and young people, and other staff, who are under their control. In specialist sports activities the qualified instructor has a “duty of care” for all those taking part irrespective of their age or position. The key point here is that the individual administering the activity, whatever their status, should be appropriately trained and authorised and in our case all Coaches are Level 1 trained and have attended Safeguarding and Protecting Children courses regularly.

This term is best explained as requiring the adult to act as “a reasonable parent” and may be stricter because what an actual child’s parent may permit,  the sport’s governing body or the Club or school may not. (The Courts regularly test this, …..so whilst a parent may say that their child can stay out until midnight, a “reasonable parent” might not.).

Parents and Carers and those“in loco parentis

Archery is a tactile sport and occasionally we need to reposition an archer, such as lowering shoulders or elbows etc. For the protection of children and the officials, we require that weekend clubs have parents or carers present or someone acting in that role and taking responsibility (i.e. “in loco parentis”). This is because, in the rare and unlikely event that an archer is injured (i.e. pulls a muscle or gets “string slap”) or if we have behavioural problems, that archer must be handed over to the parent (after any appropriate medical attendance). If the parent, carer or in loco parentis person is not present, then an appropriate adult present must attend, often reducing the number of officiating adults below 2 and requiring archery to be suspended.

Reasonable measures

For sport the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit has established the Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Young People in Sport (2003) to identify what an organisation should reasonably undertake in relation to child protection.

The Standards require sports organisations, such as Archery GB to have in place:

  • child protection policy (Standard 1)
  • procedures and systems (Standard 2)
  • prevention (Standard 3)
  • codes of practice and behaviour (Standard 4)
  • equity (Standard 5)
  • communication (Standard 6)
  • education and training (Standard 7)
  • access to advice and support (Standard 8)
  • implementation plan (Standard 9)

For the Club, the ArcheryGB policy and procedures are incorporated into the club constitution and adhered to.