Guidance: Working with contributors including vulnerable contributors or contributors at risk of vulnerability
Editorial Guidelines issues
This guidance note relates to the following Editorial Guidelines:
- Fairness to Contributors and Consent
See Editorial Guidelines Section 6 Fairness to Contributors and Consent
See Editorial Guidelines Section 7 Privacy
- Working with Children and Young People as Contributors
See Editorial Guidelines Section 9 Working with Children and Young People as Contributors
This guidance applies to contributors, including vulnerable contributors and those at risk of vulnerability in any genre, including contestants in talent searches and factual entertainment formats. It also applies to contributors in output where due to the nature of the contribution and/or format there is the possibility of a risk of significant harm if not managed or mitigated. There is additional guidance for Working with Children and Young people and for working on Charitable Appeals
(See Guidance: Working with Children and Young People as Contributors; and Charitable Appeals)
- We should consider whether a contributor/contestant might be regarded as being at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part in BBC content. We should conduct a “contributor due care” risk assessment to identify any risk of significant harm to the contributor, unless it is justified in the public interest not to do so.
- Where risks to a contributor/contestant have been identified in relation to their contribution to BBC content, they should  be provided with relevant information about those risks and any steps that will be taken to mitigate them. It is helpful to keep written records of discussions with contributors before filming, in addition to informed consent in writing. It may also be helpful for contributors to be provided with information on any areas of questioning, in writing, where practical.
- It is good practice to make and retain records, contemporaneous notes and/or any other documentation. This can assist in demonstrating what information and support was offered and provided to a contributor/contestant during productions. The record of mitigations for risk of significant harm should be held by productions and shared with the broadcaster – details may change before and during production depending on circumstances.
- Contributors who are vulnerable or at risk of vulnerability may have particular needs according to their physical, emotional or mental state or personal or social circumstances at the time of their participation and afterwards. These require a carefully considered approach by production staff and commissioners. It is important to take advice both from professionals with the relevant expertise and from those responsible for their care, if appropriate. Potential contributors may sometimes be psychologically assessed by an independent expert before final decisions are taken as part of the pre-production/selection process for choosing contributors. An assessment after their participation and ongoing support after transmission may also be appropriate. Editorial Policy may be consulted.
- We should consider the psychological impact (including psychological assessment and support) for all contributors when the format/nature of the programme means they’ll be put in highly pressurised or exposed situations, for example talent searches and reality immersive shows, even though they may not appear to have pre-existing vulnerabilities.
- Vulnerable adults may not always be in a position to give informed consent. In such cases, in addition to the consent of the vulnerable person, someone over eighteen with primary responsibility for their care should normally give consent on their behalf, unless it is editorially justified to proceed without it.
- If a vulnerable contributor is deemed to have capacity to consent information should be given in a way that they can understand.
- When contributors are unable to give informed consent or their condition is unstable and subject to sudden deterioration, with the possibility that they may become incapable of giving informed consent, we have an ongoing duty, together with those responsible for their care, to consider the impact of broadcast on the individual.
- Production should be tailored to suit the likely needs of vulnerable contributors. It may not be apparent until part way through pre- production/selection process that a likely contributor/contestant is vulnerable. Once this is established this guidance should be followed when assessing whether to proceed and how to meet their likely needs.
- We should pay attention to the expectations of privacy and have due regard for the dignity of vulnerable people before putting any sensitive facts about their condition or experience into the public domain
- Aftercare is important. Any aftercare needs to be proportionate to the ongoing risks identified and have clear boundaries and time frames. Budgets should be adjusted accordingly.
- In our content we should put suitable measures in place to mitigate the risk of the audience being caused offence by the treatment of people who appear to be put at risk of significant harm as a result of their taking part in a programme. For example, this might involve signposting that the contributor was not put at risk of significant harm in voice over and/or caption or by other editorial inclusions which may show elements of care provisions such as a shot of a conversation with a partner, family member or a member of the welfare team offering support where this is justified editorially by the nature of the content.
Guidance in full
- Contributors at risk and those who may become at risk
- Assessing the Suitability of Vulnerable Contributors
- Informed Consent
- Capacity and Consent
- Assessing the impact of production and broadcast
- Working with vulnerable contributors
- Privacy and Security
The BBC aims to reflect the world as it is, including all aspects of the diverse human experience. In our output we can offer a voice to people confronting complex challenges arising from extreme poverty, sickness or terminal illness, trauma, learning difficulties or forms of dementia, bereavement, old age, mental health, socio-economic or other issues and enable them to communicate their experience to a wide audience, within the framework of the editorial guidelines.
We aim to make our content in all genres as accessible and inclusive as possible, giving people a chance to tell their stories. In doing so the BBC can help inform public debate about the most vulnerable in society and ensure that our output offers opportunities to all and portrays the lives and experiences of as wide a cross section of our audience as possible.
Where appropriate we should make suitable adjustments to facilitate /support this . This may involve budgetary implications and also extra time factored into commissions and productions, all of which should be discussed at the development stage.
This guidance does not apply to individuals who appear in our news coverage when they are caught up in current events.
It is concerned with contributors to BBC content where we owe due care to contributors or potential contributors who may be caused harm or distress as a result of their contribution, including in News and Current Affairs and Factual content where the BBC has approached someone to be a contributor in situations where there may be a significant risk of harm.
There may be occasions when it is unnecessary or impractical to inform the contributor of potential risks, for example in the production of many news and current affairs programmes and other programmes where it is warranted in the public interest not to do so.
We should consider whether a contributor might be regarded as being at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part in BBC content for reasons including (but not limited to) the following:
- they are considered a vulnerable person
- they are not used to being in the public eye
- the programme involves being filmed in an artificial, constructed or intense environment
- the programme is likely to attract a high level of press, media and social media interest
- key editorial elements of the programme include potential confrontation (such as competitive confrontation), conflict, emotionally challenging situations
- the content requires them to discuss, reveal, or engage with sensitive, life changing or private aspects of their lives; or
- they will be put in a situation of close contact with those they may never have encountered before/ whom they may have consciously avoided before.
We owe due care to our contributors or potential contributors and contestants as well as to our sources, who may be caused harm or distress as a result of their contribution. Due care is the level of care that is appropriate to the individual and particular circumstances. We must judge this taking into account the editorial content, the nature and degree of the individual’s involvement and their public position, along with other relevant factors such as safety risks or whether the individual is vulnerable.
We should conduct a “contributor due care” risk assessment to identify any risk of significant harm to the contributor/contestant, unless it is justified in the public interest not to do so.
A risk assessment, if required, should be considered at the earliest stage in the production process. Carrying out a risk assessment can be a useful way to determine what level of care is “due” in each case and which specialists, if any, are required at each stage of the production.
Ofcom has produced an example of a “Risk Matrix” that can be used as a tool for supplementing this guidance identifying, assessing and managing potential risks to contributors in content.
Production staff should not attempt to provide personal advice or recommend therapy to contributors. In a case where there are immediate and clear concerns in relation to significant harm to the contributor themselves or a third party, it may be necessary to direct them to the emergency services, or arrange it on their behalf, preferably with their consent. BBC Safety, Security and Resilience have produced Guidance on Supporting Contributors in Crisis.
Where a contributor is vulnerable or at risk of vulnerability, it is good practice for the production team in conjunction with BBC Commissioning and Editorial Policy to establish a written protocol to set out the agreed procedures to assess and mitigate the risk of significant harm to contributors/contestants for productions involving filming/recording in an artificial or constructed /and or competitive environment; or where key editorial elements of the programme include potential confrontation, conflict, emotionally challenging situations; or where the content requires the contributor to discuss, reveal, or engage with sensitive, life changing or private aspects of their lives.
(See also Social Media in Informed Consent below)
Assessing the Suitability of Vulnerable Contributors
Even when a person gives informed consent to contribute, we should consider whether it is in the best interests of that person to take part. In some cases we should also consider the impact /wider implications for those around them such as close family.
The safety of the vulnerable person and those at risk of vulnerability should be considered. Would their life be in danger or would they be at risk of additional violence, for example within their community? Seek advice from BBC Safety Advisors (for in-house productions). BBC Safety can also advise on potential risks to BBC staff. Independent companies should seek advice from suitably trained professionals.
Potential benefits of participation should also be considered.
We should normally establish with the professionals responsible for their medical care as well as their day-to-day carers that vulnerable contributors are medically fit and psychologically robust enough to take part in production It is sometimes advisable to ask for a statement of health from their family doctor or consultant.
Where this is not possible, for example, in some cases internationally, it can be helpful to consult with appropriate organisations, such as health services, NGOs or other agencies, working in country and with an area of expertise relating to the contributor, in order to make a judgement about the risks to an individual, including medically or psychologically, if we involved them in our output. There is additional guidance in relation to contributors and charitable appeals.
It is sometimes advisable to assess potential contributors psychologically as part of the pre-production/ selection process, particularly with regard to constructed and immersive content or other types of content in which contributors, some of whom may be vulnerable, will be recorded outside of their normal living environment or face challenges of a new kind. Consideration should also be given to the likely and/or possible impact on their ability to return to their day to day lives following their involvement with the BBC.
We should consider the psychological impact (including psychological assessment and support) for all contributors when the format/nature of the programme means they’ll be put in highly pressurised or exposed situations, for example talent searches and reality immersive shows, even though they may not appear to have pre-existing vulnerabilities.
This assessment should be carried out by appropriately registered and qualified health professionals, for example psychologists or psychiatrists, who if possible also understand how the media works, have experience of working with specific genres/types of contributors/contestants and understand the potential impact on contributors. They should be contracted with a clear commitment to provide advice which is in the best interests of contributors/contestants irrespective of whom they are contracted to. They can advise both the content-makers and the individual about the impact – if any – of taking part on their personal welfare and condition.
There is more information on this from BBC Safety Security and Resilience in the Guidance on the use of External Psychological Specialists for BBC Programmes; and Psychological Well-Being: Guidance for Protecting Contributors. An assessment after recording, and ongoing support after transmission may also be appropriate.
However, even after seeking professional advice, it remains the producer’s and BBC’s responsibility to choose whether to go ahead with a particular contributor. If the decision is taken to proceed it should be established what further safeguards, support and resources are required to manage or mitigate risk of significant harm and to ensure responsible inclusion.
(See Guidance online: Talent Searches and Contestants)
Think about whether there are personal events or behaviours which it might not be in the vulnerable person’s interest to reveal to a wider public but which may be integral to telling a true and accurate story about their experience, and which might therefore make it difficult or sometimes impossible to feature a particular contributor/contestant.
Other independent expert advice may be sought from appropriately qualified specialists where it may be required at different stages of the production.
Where risks to a contributor have been identified in relation to their contribution to BBC content, they should be provided with relevant information about those risks and any steps that will be taken to manage and/or mitigate them. The information should be given clearly at the earliest stage of the production process in a way that is understandable to the contributor, with further information given during the production process, particularly where the risks may change significantly as the production evolves.
However, there may be occasions when it is unnecessary or impractical to inform the contributor of potential risks, for example in the production of many news and current affairs programmes and other programmes where it is warranted in the public interest not to do so.
It is helpful to keep written records of discussions with contributors before recording, in addition to informed consent in writing. It may also be helpful for contributors to be provided with information on any areas of questioning, in writing, where practical. Records are useful because complaints about unjust or unfair treatment may occur after production teams have disbanded.
Vulnerable contributors need all the information given to contributors generally as part of the consent procedure. When communicating with contributors/contestants who are vulnerable and have specific needs, it is important to use the methods that are the most suitable for communication with them. These may include, for example, using verbal recorded consent methods.
See Guidance online: Informed Consent)
It is also necessary to:
- consider if the person has the capacity to give properly informed consent. The vulnerability may mean that they are unable to make a judgement, either through trauma, severe illness, bereavement or lack of understanding
- engage professional expert opinion, where appropriate
- assume more responsibility for the contributor's welfare, as affected by their taking part; which may include offering help and reassurance up to the point of transmission and beyond
- consider including family or friends in the discussions
- manage expectations. Be clear that we cannot intervene personally in an individual’s situation. Also be clear about how their contribution will fit within the whole content
- discuss potential consequences in detail, including possible social media intrusion, keeping a contemporaneous note of conversations Further guidance on social media safeguards is available from Editorial Policy. There are social media guidelines templates for parents and young contributors on the Working with Children site from BBC Safety, Security and Resilience.
The BBC has a large footprint and even experienced social media users, such as influencers, may not expect the reaction they could get following a BBC broadcast or publication. Discussions should take place with contributors as part of the informed consent process, highlighting the pitfalls and advising them how to reduce risks on social platforms.
In making short-form content for social media from content that originated as long form, we should take care to make sure that we aren’t putting one person’s story in a position where it is judged more harshly because it is the sole story being told. We should also consider NOT publishing content to social if we think the contributor is particularly vulnerable to comment. We should ensure that the full and appropriate context is included in any cut down and we should keep a particular watch on comment – we can’t just stick it up and forget about it, if we want to post it to social, that carries with it a due care obligation.
(See Guidance online: Use of social media BBC Accounts – Programme, Brand or Genre)
Third Parties and Informed Consent
We do not normally rely on third parties to gain consent from an adult but it is sometimes sensible to approach a vulnerable contributor via a third party in the first instance.
In developing a working relationship with potential contributors, a clear description of the content and it’s aims should be given. This may need to be repeated at subsequent meetings and written down, or in some cases recorded instead and the contributor should be given the opportunity to ask questions. The same applies to any responsible adults and intermediaries: parents, care agencies, medical advisors etc.
It may sometimes be advisable to have vulnerable contributors assessed by a professional with expertise in their particular condition or area of disability to determine whether they have the capacity to consent to recording and/or the broadcast of the material. This expert should normally be independent of Production and the BBC.
Questions about capacity and consent are about whether the individual understands the nature of the question being asked and the implications of the decision that is to be made. People are unable to make an informed decision for themselves if they are unable to understand the information relevant to the decision, retain that information, weigh that information as part of the decision-making process and communicate their decision effectively. A person’s capacity (or lack of it) refers to their capacity to make a particular decision at the time it needs to be made.
Vulnerable Contributors with the Capacity to give Informed Consent
If a vulnerable contributor is deemed to have capacity:
- information should be given in a way that they can understand. It is sometimes helpful to ask the person to say back what they believe their participation would involve to check they have understood
- sometimes this explanation may best be given by an independent expert, or with the help of such an expert, in the presence of a programme maker and the person responsible for their care and/or nominated person
- make clear that there is no obligation to take part and, if they are undergoing treatment of any kind, this will not be affected one way or another. Equally, that the contributor should act and speak as they would normally.
Consent for broadcast can only be confirmed when it is clear that the vulnerable person has the capacity to give informed consent on the issue of broadcast. A professional will sometimes be required to assess whether this is the case and it may be useful to get written confirmation that the person has the capacity. It may sometimes be appropriate to give a vulnerable contributor the opportunity to view/listen to their story so that they may understand how it is being told and can discuss any concerns before broadcast.
For contestants on talent searches/reality immersive shows: the BBC aims to make such content as accessible as possible to potential contestants. In order to achieve this additional support may be required for informed consent. This may involve the use of independent experts working with production and commissioning teams.
In seeking to enable participation for all audiences that the BBC serves, and where possible to enable people to tell their own stories/lived experience, there may be circumstances with some vulnerable contributors which require re-establishing consent along the way at suitable intervals.
Vulnerable Contributors who Lack the Capacity to give Informed Consent
Where vulnerable contributors are not in a position to give informed consent, someone over 18 with primary responsibility for their care should normally give consent on their behalf, unless it is editorially justified to proceed without it. In particular, we should not ask someone who is unable to give their own consent for views on matters likely to be beyond their capacity to answer properly.
When contributors are unable to give informed consent or their condition is unstable and subject to sudden deterioration, with the possibility that they may become incapable of giving informed consent, we have an ongoing duty together with those responsible for their care to consider the impact of broadcast on the individual.
We may decide to offer a viewing/listen of the edited story to the vulnerable person and/or those responsible for their care so that we can discuss issues such as the pertinence of private information to their story, and allay any concerns they may have about context or portrayal. If their concerns cannot be resolved satisfactorily, Editorial Policy may be consulted.
It is often useful to provide a letter which explains the purpose of the content, which may be referred to by the vulnerable person, their carer/nominated person or family members later. On occasion, it may be appropriate to ask them to sign to say they have received this letter. Friends and/or relatives may also be given written information about the content. They may be asked if they would like to participate in the content, but should be under no obligation to do so and should not normally be recorded without their consent.
In exceptional circumstances (for instance, when recording with people suffering from a serious mental illness, when their condition may change dramatically during the course of production), it may be useful to think of consent as a two stage process – recording and transmission. The primary consideration should be the vulnerable contributor’s welfare during recording and on transmission. It is important to maintain a dialogue with contributors, their legal guardians and their carers/or nominated person throughout the period of recording and editing in order to consider their interests. All recordings should be kept securely before broadcast. It may be appropriate, at a later stage, to destroy content that is considered unsuitable for broadcast.
A vulnerable contributor may have specific and individual needs, according to their disability or condition at the time of recording and transmission. As much information as possible should be sought and carefully appraised in advance but ongoing assessment will also be needed. Where necessary, expert advice should be taken and any potentially negative impacts on the contributor thoroughly discussed. We should look out for contributors/contestants who may not appear to have vulnerabilities at the outset but may develop/reveal vulnerabilities during the process. The Commissioner and Editorial Policy should be kept across such developments.
There may be issues which come to light during recording that are important to the story, but which might on broadcast put the vulnerable person potentially at risk (or further at risk), either from within their extended family, or from their community. A final judgement on whether to include such material will depend on an assessment of how the vulnerable person may be affected, how well known these facts are in their immediate community, what support they have in place and what support is available going forward.
Revealing aspects of their personalities may expose some vulnerable contributors to malicious gossip locally or public scrutiny of their character and behaviour in the media or on the internet, especially on social media. Such contributors could become psychologically vulnerable. Psychological assessment may be required to ensure they are robust enough to cope with any likely consequences of the experience.
(See above: Assessing the Suitability of Vulnerable Contributors)
Guidance may also be given to contributors about using social media in order to help protect them.
(See Social Media above for more detail)
Where possible, contributors should be given a nominated single point of contact within the production team with whom they can liaise throughout the production process (and, where possible, for an appropriate period of time after the programme is broadcast.)
Production staff may sometimes require appropriate training or guidance in order to deal sensitively and practically with the challenges that arise when working with vulnerable contributors. Production should be tailored to suit the likely needs of vulnerable contributors/contestants. It will often be necessary for a pre-agreed protocol to be put in place for productions to follow, in discussion with Commissioning, Editorial Policy and other relevant experts. Where appropriate this may be done in collaboration with the contributor themselves and their family/carer, who will know what support and adjustments may be required.
In some formats a senior member of the production team will be designated as the welfare executive producer/welfare producer to oversee welfare/duty of care provisions and protocols. A “ point person” may also be identified by the contributor/contestant who is the nominated adult, usually a close family friend or member of the immediate family.
(See Guidance online: Talent Searches and Contestants)
Some conditions affect the way people think and feel and their reactions may be unpredictable to those around them. Some vulnerable contributors may display certain behaviours which others find disconcerting. Staff will need to understand and manage their own responses in relation to these unusual behaviours and should take advice where necessary from those who are familiar with the contributor and the nature of their condition.
Due care should be applied in ensuring vulnerable contributors have sufficient support throughout their participation and around the time of broadcast. We should find out what support they already have in place and, where necessary, liaise with these people during recording and particularly when the programme is broadcast. It is advisable to stay in close contact with contributors, their carers and their families in order to monitor their situation and offer support or help where necessary; however, we also need to be clear about the limits of any assistance we can offer and the time frame within which we can offer it.
There may be circumstances when it is appropriate for contributors to have direct access to specialists without having to request this through the production team. For example, if a contributor wants to raise concerns or questions directly with a specialist, we should consider how best to facilitate this in an easy and timely manner, while making sure that any information necessary to allow the production to fulfil their due care obligations is passed on. The broadcaster who has the ultimate editorial responsibility should also be informed.
When the content has been edited it may be useful to show it to contributors, as well as to the people who support or take care of them, so that they have the opportunity to absorb its impact, discuss any concerns and prepare themselves for broadcast.
Technicians and crew should be briefed on how to work sensitively with the contributor. In some circumstances, such as victims of gender based violence, it may be less stressful to the individual to have a team who are all one gender.
It is good practice to document how the vulnerable contributor is treated as evidence that their safety and welfare has been appropriately taken into account.
Dealing with Stressful or Conflict Situations
Taking part in content will, in most cases, be a new experience for vulnerable contributors and there may be risks to their welfare arising from it. These can be managed by:
- taking advice from those with specialist knowledge of their condition
- having a clear understanding of how to minimise the chance of harm or distress
- tailoring any questions or situations to be appropriate for their condition
- having strategies in place should a stressful situation occur, such as having breaks in recording.
Ahead of production, it can be advisable to discuss with the experts or those responsible for their care possible scenarios which could unfold during production, particularly those in which the welfare of the contributor may be compromised.
If it is clear that the presence of the crew is causing distress to a vulnerable contributor, recording should normally be halted or moved to a different area, as appropriate. We should take advice from and work closely with carers who are likely to be able to anticipate difficulties before they happen.
If a vulnerable contributor indicates (by any means) that they do not wish to participate, or if they become distressed, such communication should normally be respected, and no pressure brought to bear on them or their carers to continue.
In documentary content, if a particularly stressful situation develops during an important sequence, for example if a vulnerable person has to be restrained, we should record sensitively and be guided by any relevant professionals. Options include filming from a distance, focusing on the staff involved rather than the contributor (if at an institution for example), recording in a way that does not identify the person or with a film, recording only the audio.
In other content such as talent searches/reality immersive programmes if a particular stressful situation develops during an important sequence, production teams should follow their pre-agreed protocol which might include, for example, adjusting running orders appropriately, granting a “time out”, making other suitable adjustments and following agreed escalation procedures.
Having taken expert advice at the outset, if during production we become aware that a vulnerable person is at risk of imminent and significant harm, we should take action to inform the relevant authorities in good time. For example, this could be where life is at risk, or a contributor needs immediate medical treatment, or if a vulnerable person communicates in some way that they are a victim of sexual or other physical abuse.
We should pay attention to the expectations of privacy of people who are vulnerable. In featuring them as individuals we will be putting personal information about their condition into the public domain. We should point out to potential contributors that their condition will become known to a wide audience including family, friends and work colleagues, and we must ensure that they are happy to proceed on that basis.
It may be appropriate to have measures in place to protect information concerning vulnerable contributors, their carers, friends or relations which could reveal the vulnerable person’s identity or location. On occasion, it may be necessary to ensure that the precise whereabouts of contributors is kept confidential throughout production and their location is not revealed in any content.
The victims and alleged victims of some offences, including rape and most offences with a sexual element, have a lifelong right not to be identified as victims of those offences. This right exists whether or not the alleged crime has been reported to police. The victims and alleged victims of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and human trafficking are also afforded automatic anonymity by law in relation to those alleged offences. Particular care will have to be taken over jigsaw identification in cases where it is the victim’s own family members who are accused of offences. Individuals aged 16 and above can waive their anonymity, but they must do this in writing. Further advice is available from Programme Legal Advice.
There is also a lifelong right to anonymity for teachers where they are accused of a criminal offence against a registered pupil at their school. The anonymity in relation to such an allegation will end or can be lifted in a number of circumstances, including if the teacher is charged with the criminal offence. The teacher may also waive their anonymity in writing. Further advice is available from Programme Legal Advice. The situation may differ in Scotland and advice is available from the Legal Director, Scotland.
The collection of personal information must be handled in accordance with data protection legislation and the BBC’s data protection policies.
It may be appropriate to grant a contributor anonymity to protect them from harm and we must agree the extent of anonymity we will provide.
See Guidance online: Anonymity)
Aftercare is important. Any aftercare needs to be proportionate to the ongoing risks identified and have clear boundaries and time frames.
At the outset the need for aftercare for vulnerable contributors and for all contributors when the format/nature of the programme means they’ll be put in highly pressurised or exposed situations should be discussed by Production and Commissioning with input from Editorial Policy and other relevant experts where necessary.
An agreed plan should be drawn up with an outline of how aftercare will be delivered and for what period of time it should be available. It should be signed off by production commissioning and the BBC who may consult Editorial Policy. This aftercare plan may need to be adjusted if any contributor develops a vulnerability during the production. A psychological assessment or conversation may be advisable post-production.
(See above: Assessing the Suitability of Vulnerable Contributors for more detail on psychological assessments)
We should be flexible to the type of support a contributor might reasonably require or request and remain responsive to a contributor’s needs for an appropriate time after the programme has been broadcast. For high risk content it may be appropriate to check in on contributors around the time of broadcast.
If a contribution has evolved during production and post-production, it may be advisable to let them know before transmission where we may have any concerns about how this may affect them.
It may also be necessary to limit the period of time that content could be repeated for. However, the contributor and their families should be made aware that third party websites may reproduce the content without our knowledge or consent.
The aftercare plan should usually include details of a phased withdrawal at a suitable point. In some cases this needs to be done in liaison with external agencies/services that can offer ongoing and more tailored help and support. It is important that contributors/contestants do not become dependent on the BBC and its productions for their support.
It is good practice to make and retain records, contemporaneous notes and/or any other documentation. This can assist in demonstrating what information and support was offered and provided to a contributor during productions.
We should ensure that due care both on and off air is factored in to marketing plans and additional content.
Where a contributor/contestant is vulnerable or at risk of vulnerability some adjustments may need to be made.
These may include, for example:
- ensuring that they are featured at the outset in promotions/trails showcasing some contestants
- being careful not to put them centre stage or with a specific individual emphasis on some social media platforms don’t put one person’s story in a position where it is judged more harshly because it is the sole story being told
- managing comments and audience interactions online.
(See also Social Media above)
In our content we should put suitable measures in place to mitigate the risk of the audience being caused offence by the treatment of people who appear to be put at risk of significant harm as a result of their taking part in a programme. For example, this might involve signposting that the contributor was not put at risk of significant harm in voice over and/or caption or by other editorial inclusions which may show elements of care provisions such as a shot of a conversation with a partner, family member or a member of the welfare team offering support, where this is justified editorially by the nature of the content.
 There may be occasions when it is unnecessary or impractical to inform the contributor of potential risks, for example in the production of many news and current affairs programmes and other programmes where it is warranted in the public interest not to do so.
See also Psychological Well-Being: Guidance for Protecting Contributors from BBC Safety Security and Resilience: Advice for Journalists and Presenters
And Psychological Well-Being: Guidance for Protecting Contributors from BBC Safety Security and Resilience
And Psychological Well-Being: Guidance for Protecting Contributors from BBC Safety Security and Resilience
Last updated April 2021