The University of Surrey has a duty of care in creating a safe environment for children and young people who are under 18 and vulnerable/protected adults and adults at risk. We are committed to ensure that they are safeguarded and protected from harm.

If you have a safeguarding query or concern please contact the current designated Safeguarding Officer Laura Smythson. If you are unsure whether you concern is a welfare concern or a safeguarding concern, you can contact the duty worker at Centre for Wellbeing for further guidance.

Safeguarding children

Safeguarding children is about taking action to prevent and protect children and young people under the age of 18 from abuse, neglect and harm.

We do have students under the age of 18 at University of Surrey and have contact with prospective students under age 18 and therefore it is important that decisions and actions we take as a university keep this in mind. This will include for example online communications with prospective students, visits to campus and children living in student accommodation. All children under age of 18 are considered at potential risk on account of their age.

Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults is different as not all adults over the age of 18 are considered adults at risk. Adults at risk under Care Act 2014 are individuals who have care and support needs and due to these additional needs, may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Safeguarding concerns and welfare concerns

Safeguarding is primary concerned with the harm others may be doing to a student or staff member, such as exploitation, domestic abuse or emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse.

Historically however, universities have used the term ‘safeguarding’ to describe welfare concerns they have for individuals such as untreated mental health or self harm and suicide risk concerns. This has been confusing and therefore at University of Surrey we are taking an active step away from using this inaccurate terminology.

Who is responsible for safeguarding?

The University as an organisation has common law duty of care to not be negligent. People and organisations must have reasonable care towards those who may be affected by their activities and to take reasonable steps to minimise risk. This care applies to everyone at the university such as staff, students and visitors. In some cases, the University may also have a legal duty which must be fulfilled, such as responding to a local authority information request through a Section 42 Safeguarding Enquiry or a ‘Prevent’ concern under Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.

All members of the University are expected to play an appropriate role in reducing the risk of harm to staff and students. As a minimum, all staff must pass on and discuss their concerns swiftly with a relevant party so that the issue can be explored with someone who has a specialist understanding of safeguarding. In the first instance, staff should discuss concerns with their line manager who can then escalate as appropriate.

Overall responsibility for responding to University concerns about a staff or student lies with the Chief Student Officer or his/her nominee. 

Who can I speak to about a safeguarding concern?

If it is clear that a safeguarding lead needs to be involved, please contact the current designated Safeguarding Officer Laura Smythson ( If you are unsure whether you concern is a welfare concern or a safeguarding concern, you can contact the duty worker at Centre for Wellbeing ( for further guidance.

It is important not to delay reporting a safeguarding concern as delays can result in serious harm to the person at risk. Safeguarding concerns should be escalated on the same day that the worry arises.

Prevent Duty

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a new statutory duty for higher education institutions to have "due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism". This means that institutions now have a statutory duty to engage with the Government's Prevent Agenda. The Government has published guidance setting out what steps higher education institutions are expected to take to meet this duty. 

Radicalisation of a child or an adult at risk under Care Act 2014 is a form of abuse.

Further information on the University of Surrey’s approach to its implementation of the Prevent Duty in respect of safeguarding individuals who may be vulnerable to radicalisation is available in our Prevent Policy (PDF).