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7.4 Transporting Children


This chapter was updated in May 2017 to reflect changes to the laws around booster seats and babies who now need to stay in rear facing seats until 15 months.


  1. Transport Arrangements - General
  2. Transporting Children
  3. Risk Assessment

1. Transport Arrangements - General

For distances in excess of 300 miles, two drivers will be required; drivers must share the driving equally.

The following must be taken into account:

  1. Passenger safety;
  2. Competence of the driver;
  3. Awareness of driver's hours;
  4. Traffic conditions;
  5. Contingency funds and arrangements in case of breakdown/emergency;
  6. Weather;
  7. Journey time and distance;
  8. Stopping off points for long journeys and toilet breaks - 20 minutes every 2 hours;
  9. Appropriate seat belts or restraints must be used and fastened (see end of this section, below, for requirements);
  10. The transport must have a first aid kit;
  11. A mobile telephone should be taken/carried by each member of staff. If mobile 'phones are not carried suitable arrangements should be made to enable communication between staff undertaking the activity.

A First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher must always be carried on the vehicle.

Where outdoor activities are planned, suitable First Aid Kits should be carried away from the vehicle.

Before setting out, staff must ensure that suitable mechanical checks are undertaken in relation to the vehicle.

Seat Belts/Restraints

See the law: Child car seats: the law.

NOTE: The term 'Child Restraint' means 'Booster Seat', 'Child Seat', Baby Seat' and 'Booster Cushion'. For detailed guidance on these terms see Page 4 of Seat Belts Leaflet issued by the Department of Transport.

2. Transporting Children

  1. Where a risk assessment states that a child should be accompanied by 2 staff, the child should not be left alone whilst on an activity;
  2. Children over the age of 12 may be allowed to sit in the front of vehicles if the arrangement is approved by the Home's Manager. If children are required to sit in the rear of vehicles, they must be accompanied by staff;
  3. Children may not hold or be responsible for vehicle keys and may not steer cars or use petrol pumps;
  4. All vehicle occupants must wear suitable seat belts or restraints at all times when in vehicles;
  5. Children must not tamper with or use any controls except, at the discretion of the driver, the radio/stereo;
  6. If it is assessed that a child may be distressed whilst in the vehicle or a child becomes distressed to the extent that the safety of the vehicle or occupants may be compromised, the vehicle must be stopped; preferably in a lay-by or suitable stopping place. However, the vehicle may have to be stopped at the side of the road or on the hard shoulder of a motorway. In these circumstances, the hazard warning lights should be activated, the occupants should get out of the vehicle and stand well away from the road, and the emergency services must be summoned;
  7. If the safety of the occupants is compromised, with the risk of Injury or Damage to Property, Physical Intervention may be used or the Police should be called to assist. If children with a history of violence are being transported, staff must ensure the following:
    1. Children must sit in the rear of the vehicle, with each child supervised by a minimum of one member of staff;
    2. Staff must be clear when it may be appropriate to use Physical Intervention and what techniques may be appropriate;
    3. Children must not sit behind, or be able to distract the driver;
    4. Staff must be satisfied that no items, which could be used as weapons, are available to the child. These could include tools, aerosols, pens etc.;
    5. It may be necessary to search the child before the activity starts; see: Searching Children/Bedrooms Procedure;
    6. Care should be taken when getting in and out of vehicles. This is the time when holds are weakened;
    7. Some thought should be given to action on arrival at destination - will more staff be needed? Is a room available? Is it easy to get the car close to the destination, and is it possible to avoid other children becoming involved?
    8. If the potential risks cannot be managed safely, the activity must not go ahead; or must cease and, if necessary, the Police be called to assist.

All vehicles that are used for transporting children must be smoke free and must show the international 'No Smoking' symbol. It is the legal responsibility of anyone who drives, manages or is responsible for order and safety on a vehicle, to prevent people from smoking.

3. Risk Assessment

It is not necessary to undertake a separate Risk Assessment for each activity/trip. Where a range or series of activities may be undertaken (the transporting of children to and from school, a series of supervised contacts, the undertaking of routine activities), the Manager may approve a Risk Assessment and associated arrangements such as staffing levels for a period; and then set a date for the review of the assessment/arrangements.

The Manager or person delegated to oversee the activity must approve a completed a risk assessment in advance.

A risk assessment for a visit need not be complex but it should be comprehensive. It does not generally require technical formulae or professional health and safety expertise, but specialised information for some visits may be necessary and Managers must ensure that the person assessing is competent to do so.

A formal assessment of the risks that might be met on an activity should have the aim of preventing the risks or reducing them. Children must not be placed in situations which expose them to an unacceptable level of risk. Safety and protection of all concerned must always be the prime consideration. If the risks cannot be contained or managed, the activity must not take place.

The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:

  1. Care Plan, Placement Plan or other relevant plans;
  2. Recent/relevant events/incidents;
  3. Group dynamics, staff/child relationships;
  4. Child Protection Issues;
  5. Violent or other offending behaviour;
  6. The healthcare or mental health needs of the children;
  7. Level associated with Drug/Alcohol etc. misuse;
  8. Level of disability and associated special needs;
  9. What are the hazards?
  10. Whom might they affect?
  11. What safety measures need to be in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level?
  12. Can safety measures in place?
  13. What steps will be taken in an emergency?

In undertaking the risk assessment, all staff taking part and children who are capable of making informed decisions should be consulted and a record the risks should be made and seen/approved by the manager.

Frequent activities/visits to local venues such as swimming baths or where a child is transported to and from school may not need a risk assessment for each trip; but the manager must ensure that a risk assessment is completed for the series/range of activities/visits; and a date set for the review of the risk assessment.

Alternatively, a risk assessment which has been agreed for a series or range of activities/visits must be reviewed immediately after any information comes to light or any event/incident which compromises the safety of the children/staffs. In such circumstances, the activities/visits must be suspended until a review has taken place and the manager is satisfied that a suitable new risk assessment has been completed.

The staff member should take the following factors into consideration when assessing the risks;

  1. The type of visit/activity and the level at which it is being undertaken;
  2. The location, routes and modes of transport;
  3. The competence, experience and qualifications of the staff;
  4. Ratios of children to staff;
  5. The group members' age competence, fitness, and temperament, and the suitability of the activity;
  6. The healthcare needs of the children;
  7. The quality and suitability of available equipment;
  8. Seasonal conditions, weather and timing;
  9. Emergency procedures;
  10. The need to monitor risks throughout the activity;
  11. The children's backgrounds. I.e. offending, health, absconding, child protection, drugs.

When approving the Risk Assessment and subsequent plan for the activity, the Manager should determine what latitude staff have to change the plan, the need for a contingency plan, an 'on call' or backup procedure to provide support, advice or direction to the staff once the activity/trip has started.