We already have some extremely useful guidance from the BCA Safeguarding Officer on what is required in the way of paperwork if a club does encourage younger members - so we know it can be done legally and by the book. It does require an older caver (parent, guardian, etc.) to take responsibility - but that's surely not a problem. It is a real pity if outdated notions of "liability" get in the way of encouraging youngsters.
Indeed, but it's not just that. Our club - doubtless in common with others - had to form a policy re taking U18s caving.
Our understanding of the position is
- if their parent/guardian accompanies them, then all is fine
- if not, then the trip leader must have passed a DBS check, and also the club must appoint a Youth/Vulnerable Adult Officer to ensure that all paperwork is complete and regulations complied with.
Personally, I would have no objection to undergoing a DBS check, but definitely wouldn't want the responsibility of being a Y/VA officer. I think this feeling was general, so our policy had to be "no U18s unless accompanied by parent/guardian".
I'm not aware that we have ever (at least recently) taken unaccompanied U18s, so in practice it won't make much difference, but it seems a pity - if a member wanted to take their child and his/her mate (whose parents wouldn't contemplate caving) on a trip, then presumably we'd have to say no.