Dealing with complaints or incidents in your swing dance organisation...

* Nominate ‘Safety People’ – ideally, provide at least two people of different gender, that are available to hear reports and/or complaints, both in person at events and online. Offer the opportunity to contact ‘Safety People’ in other groups and scenes to ensure that no-one is above the complaints procedure.

*Treat any complaints received seriously. Be supportive and non-judgemental and ask what the person making the report would like to happen next (most occurrences will only require a chat and a warning, but be sensitive to the needs of the person making the report).

*Record incidents – Keep a log. What happened? When? Who reported it? To whom?

Take contact details, and make notes on what action was taken, and what was agreed. If possible ask the person (person A) bringing the matter to you to sign the log. Give reassurances that reports will be dealt with in strictest confidence and that they can remain anonymous if they choose.

*Approach the other party (person B): Speak to them, be sure to hear their side. Give advice on proper conduct, and talk about their behaviour, rather than accusing the person. Consider implementing a 3-strike warning system for lesser incidences. Decide: Does the incident need follow-up? Does the organiser need to call the police?

If the incident is between two adults, it is Person A’s decision to make a police report, but if the adult is perceived to be vulnerable, or Person A is under 18,  the person hearing the report must make decisions based on proper safeguarding practice. This may mean your nominated Safety People will benefit from external training, or other expert advice. If repeat incidences occur, and a third strike is given, Person B can be banned from classes and events etc.

*If no acceptable resolution is found, a neighbouring member of the S.T.E.P.S. Network can be approached for advice and/or arbitration, the approach can be made by Person A, Person B, or the Safety Person responding to the report.

*Make sure your dancers are aware that Safety People are also available for informal chats and reassurances – these kinds of conversations do not need to be logged, and may help to prevent the spread of gossip.

Under 18s.

The STEPS code is not designed with minors in mind. Organisers that run events welcoming children are individually responsible for adding appropriate clauses to their codes. Licensed venues should be consulted before admission of under 18s is granted and under 18s will need 

to be supervised by parent or guardian at adult orientated events. Dance teachers going into schools or visiting other children’s groups must always ensure they comply with the rules of the club or institution re:safeguarding, including rules on DBS (formerly known as CRB) checks and other references.

If your group or organisation is an employer:  In the instance of staff that have been dismissed due to safeguarding issues there may be an obligation to make a report to DBS or the Charities Commission (dependent on the registered status, business or society/charity). It is up to an individual organisation to seek clarification from the appropriate external body as necessary.


The following examples are here as a guide only. Each scene has it’s own character, and each person reporting may have specific requests. There are no definitive answers, but serious transgressions need to be considered in accordance with the law.

Person A comes to you with a complaint about Person B concerning:

* A regular dance move that made Person A feel uncomfortable:  Ask why Person A felt uncomfortable? If it was due to personal boundaries  (such as too many spins or dips) empower Person A to tell their dance partners when they are uncomfortable, and help them to communicate their needs and preferences. Consider ways to teach these skills to everyone in classes. Consider informing Person B, but only so they can better understand Person A. No warning or sanctions necessary.

* A dance move that involved some potentially inappropriate touching: e.g. swipe of private areas or holding on too long at end of dance. Discuss possibility of technical dance error as well as it being inappropriate. Ask Person A what kind of response they think is appropriate, either keeping eye on Person B’s dancing/behaviour and/or talking to them. Keep Person A anonymous if they wish. 

Log the complaint. If they ask you to speak directly to Person B, go over the technical aspects of the move. Issue a warning (3 strikes approach) if you believe touching was purposeful, not accidental. Include ways to avoid accidental swiping (and how to apologise when it does happen) in your teaching curriculum.

* You receive anonymous reports about Person B touching people inappropriately: Talk to Person B, explain about appropriate holds etc and their need to respect personal space. Keep an eye on them. Consider issuing a formal warning via a 3-strike system. Log the complaint, but be aware that anonymous reports that cannot be verified may, rarely, be another form of harassment.

* Reports of more serious transgressions, including illegal activity: Support Person A, take them seriously. Ask if they want to contact the police, respect their choices. Offer anonymity. Provide details of support available locally and/or nationally. Talk with B (right of recourse must always be given, take another person along if worried) and consider 3-strike system. Log the complaint.

If serious (and verifiable) consider outright ban, but appropriate action may vary dependent on the type of transgression. Be open to consulting other Safety People and outside professional agencies to ensure that you are making the most appropriate decision on the available information, in the specific situation.

When logging complaints, make sure that both parties are aware of the log, and inform them as to who is able to view it.

Please note: If there has been a police investigation into the reported matter, and that investigation has been closed, due process has already been followed and organisers should follow the directive given by the police.