Risk management at Derwent Hill

We are committed to safeguarding all our visitors and staff

while providing opportunities for exploration, independence and adventure.

See our Health & Safety Policy and Risk Management Summary.

Adventure Activities Licence

Derwent Hill is registered (Provider Reference Number R0571) with The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority as licensed to provide specified activities under the following headings:

  • Abseiling
  • Canyoning
  • Gorge Scrambling
  • Hill Walking & Mountaineering
  • Improvised Rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Mine Exploration
  • Open Canoeing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sailing – (Inland waters )
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding

Licence details can be confirmed by referring to the on-line Register of Licence Holders or calling the Licensing Service on 0292 075 5715.

Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge

Derwent Hill holds a Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.  This means that we have been inspected and meet national standards in the following areas:

  • We deliver what we say we do
  • We take account of the needs of users
  • We have an emphasis on learning outcomes
  • We operate in a healthy and safe environment

Our accreditation can be checked on the Quality Badge website.

AHOEC Gold Standard

Derwent Hill holds the Gold Standard of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres.  This means that we achieved the Association’s higher standards during the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge inspection process.

In our last inspection we received a score of 5/5 in all areas.

Details are available on the AHOEC website.


Derwent Hill holds the Adventuremark accreditation.  This means that our operating arrangements meet the Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee Provider Accreditation standards.  Our accreditation can be checked on the Adventuremark website.

Staff Competence and Qualifications for Adventure Activities

All staff hold either a relevant National Governing Body (NGB) qualification, or have been assessed as competent by an appropriately experienced and qualified person, consistent with the requirements of the Licensing Regulations.  Copies of certificates are available for inspection on site.

Risk Assessments, Operational Procedures and Equipment

Risk Assessments, operational procedures and equipment for adventure activities are inspected as part of our Adventure Activities Licence inspection.  Risk Assessments for other areas including catering, buildings and facilities are in place, and we comply with relevant legislation and Sunderland City Council policies and procedures.  Risk assessments, policies and operational procedures are available for inspection on site.  All equipment provided is fit for purpose.  Records of equipment checks are available for inspection on site.

Client appreciation and understanding of the existence of residual risk

Adventure Activities by their very nature involve an inherent level of risk. Participants and Visit Leaders must be aware, that even after suitable and sufficient risk assessment have been undertaken, there remains a level of residual risk and it is often not practicable to manage the risk to zero.

When risk assessing Adventure Activities it is good practice to consider SAGED; Competence of staff (Competence is a combination of quality experience, training and qualifications), the hazards associated with the activity, needs of the group, environment and distance from base (Remoteness):

Risk is comprised of likelihood and severity. If the likelihood or severity of outcome can be reduced the overall exposure to risk is reduced. In practice most control measures reduce the likelihood.

Child Protection / Safeguarding

Derwent Hill is part of Sunderland City Council People Services, and is committed to safeguarding students & staff by following Sunderland Safeguarding Board procedures.  All staff are subject to checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and recruitment decisions are made by the Council using the Safer Recruitment Guidance which is part of the Council’s Recruitment & Selection Code of Practice.

Supervision Arrangements for Children and Young People

Client staff (e.g. Teachers, Youth Leaders) who bring groups to Derwent Hill have overall responsibility for their supervision in loco parentis.  Derwent Hill staff take over this responsibility during activity sessions for which they are responsible.  At the end of a session, Derwent Hill staff hand back the responsibility to client staff, who are responsible for supervision of children when not on activities, including overnight.


Clients are provided with information regarding how to proceed in the event of an emergency overnight, including fire.  These details include a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of senior Derwent Hill staff.

During courses for Sunderland schools and Sunderland Council groups, no Derwent Hill staff are on duty overnight, although several Derwent Hill staff do live on the premises and will provide support if possible.  For other courses, including ‘open’ courses for individuals as opposed to group bookings, a member of Derwent Hill staff is usually on site and on call.

Clients’ responsibility for safety

Participants in our courses, including children and young people, also have a responsibility for the safety of themselves and others. They are expected to follow safety instructions, act reasonably with common sense relative to their age, and are encouraged to share any concerns or issues with staff, in confidence if necessary.


Derwent Hill has three 17-seater minibuses available for in-course transport, one of which has a wheelchair ramp.  The minibuses are operated within the Sunderland City Council minibus policy, and comply with current legislation.  Derwent Hill holds a ‘Section 19’ minibus permit for each minibus.


Sunderland City Council  holds indemnity insurance which covers Derwent Hill for employers liability and public liability, with a limit of £50 million, and for professional liability with a limit of £10 million.

Derwent Hill does not provide personal accident or cancellation insurance for clients.  We strongly recommend that clients arrange such cover themselves.

Information Management Strategy (GDPR Regulations 2016)

Derwent Hill is part of Sunderland City Council. We comply with SCC Information Management Strategy in line with the 2016 General Data Protection Regulations.

Fire Protection

A comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment of Derwent Hill has been undertaken on behalf of Sunderland City Council by a competent person possessing the requisite knowledge, skills, experience and training.  The Risk Assessment is available for inspection on site.  A statutory fire safety audit was carried out by Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service on 9th May 2013, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Site Security

Derwent Hill has a Security Policy in order to safeguard clients, employees, visitors and property.  This policy has been developed following advice from the Security Services Section of Sunderland City Council.

Food Safety

Derwent Hill has been inspected under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.  Our 5 star rating can be checked on the Food Standards Agency Website.