The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. 

In our work we meet many children and adults who are potentially at risk for a variety of reasons. We aim to create a safe environment in which no child or adult will experience harm or exploitation during their contact with us.

The British Council is committed to:

  • complying with relevant UK and international laws and standards and ensuring local legal compliance 
  • valuing, respecting and listening to children and adults 
  • minimising and managing situations where abuse could occur, through maintaining strong protection systems and procedures including planning, risk assessment and safeguarding systems
  • sharing safeguarding best practice and information regarding safeguarding concerns with relevant parties, maintaining confidentiality so far as possible and involving children and adults where appropriate 
  • taking action and investigating suspected abuse proportionately and appropriately. 

We require all staff to ensure their behaviour is consistent with this global policy statement. We also require that clients, customers, partners and suppliers are made aware of this global policy statement and operate within it.

We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this global policy statement and will ensure it is communicated and understood.

The British Council will review this global policy statement annually to reflect new legal and regulatory developments and ensure good practice.

This global policy statement was approved by Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Interim Chief Executive, in March 2021 and is due for review in March 2022.


A child is defined in the British Council as anyone who has not reached their 18th birthday (UNCRC 1989) irrespective of the age of majority in the country where the child is, or in their home country.

 Adults at risk are defined as any person aged 18 years or over:

  • who identifies themselves as unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves against significant harm, exploitation or neglect; and/or
  • is understood to be at risk, which may be due to frailty, homelessness, mental or physical health problems, learning or physical impairments, and/or is impacted by disasters or conflicts.

Within this policy staff are not included in the adults at risk definition as they are covered under human resources (HR) and other organisational policies.