IMO CTC's position on child protection, viz participation of unaccompanied under-18s in club rides or events, is a mess and needs refreshing far more urgently than our brand (but that is another subject).
I haven't had time to read the more recent comments on this thread (though it is a thread that I have been watching for two years) but as a member group secretary I am at the moment having to spend a considerable amount of my time dealing with this subject.
The child participation policy referred to in recent posts (http://www.ctc.org.uk/events/support-fo ... procedures
) is now ten years old and must be due for a review. I am not expert in this field, but to my mind, common sense says that if a child, previously unknown to anyone in a group of adult cyclists, turns up for a ride, with or without a signed consent form, there are quite a few things that need to be known and understood by both the child, the parents and the ride leader before that child is allowed to participate in the ride. In practice, since I have received no requests for a parental consent form in seven years, I would be very surprised of a youngster did turn up with a signed form. The guidance says that, without the form the ride leader should try to contact the parents by mobile phone and discuss the suitability etc., and if he feels that he has received verbal consent, the child can go on the ride. That's totally unrealistic; there are too many things that need to be explained to the parents (it HAS to be a written explanation to ensure that all the relevant points are covered and that there is no subsequent arguement about it) and there simply isn't time to go into this properly at the start of a ride, when the leader is concerned with getting his group on the road, and trying to keep to a schedule. It's not fair on ride leaders to expect them to take on any responsibility to a youngster who has simply turned up at the start.
If we allow an unaccompanied youngster to join a club ride then we also accept a responsibility to get them back safely - but to where? Home, or the start? Most of our rides don't return to the start, as people go their separate ways after lunch or tea. Someone then has the extra responsibility of seeing a youngster that they don't know safely back to a point where they can be either turned over to parents, or allowed to continue alone. This potentially raises CRB issues. If the youngster has a mechanical problem, who fixes it? What responsibility are they taking upon themselves by doing so? If it can't be fixed, what arrangements are made to see the child safely home? If there's an accident, who informs the parents? There are simply too many issues that could arise that we are not equipped to deal with and it's my view that we should only allow under 16s on rides if they are accompanied by a responsible adult who will deal with any problems (ok, probably with the assistance of others in the group, but it is the responsible adult who ultimately makes any decisions). We would still need a signed parental consent form.
I have asked for further guidance from National Office on this but at the time of writing this I am still awaiting a reply (which is fair enough). However, it leaves me in a position I do not want to be in, of not being able to give authoritative advice to our ride leaders since the only standing instruction is 10 years out of date and not fit for purpose. I have to say that it isn't really debate that I want on this, it's a clear, fit for purpose policy from CTC at national level, applicable to all member groups.