Teachers and group leaders are advised to carry out a preliminary visit in advance of their trip in order to conduct their own risk assessment. Please email [email protected] to book. Responsibility for the group visiting HMS Belfast remains with the leaders/teachers at all times.

Everyday hazards such as slipping, tripping or falling on stairs, trapping fingers in doors and cuts and bruises are inherent in all environments. The following site-specific factors should be considered in relation to the needs of each group member.

HMS Belfast is an historic warship and many of the original features have been retained to ensure that the ship remains as authentic as possible. Therefore, there are hazards that cannot be avoided.

External Environment

  • HMS Belfast is moored on the south bank of the River Thames.
  • The ship is moored but will move gently as the river tide ebbs and flows and other river traffic passes by.
  • Entrance is via a fixed pedestrian footbridge (gangway) from the bank.
  • The bank is reserved for pedestrians but occasionally vehicles may require access to the area.
  • All visitor routes including the pedestrian walkway (gangway) and the ship decks have guardrails along the sides with warning signs advising visitors ‘do not lean on guardrail’. Netting is secured to the guardrails to afford extra protection.
  • There is a considerable drop from the main deck level to the water and the tidal river is fast flowing. Six life buoys are located around the ship.
  • The decks have bolts and other pieces of equipment fixed to the surfaces which may present trip hazards. High-visibility paint is used where possible.
  • There are protrusions at and below head height. High-visibility paint is used where possible.
  • Decks may become slippery when wet. Mats are fitted at all entrance doorways to prevent water ingress and additional warnings are made using the ship’s broadcast system during inclement weather. During sub-zero conditions de-icers are used prior to opening.
  • Visitors must comply with signs prohibiting access to restricted areas.
  • Running is not permitted on the approach to, or on any part of the ship.
  • The visitor route is patrolled regularly.

Internal Environment

  • There are a number of decks with a variety of entrances/exits, galleries and exhibition spaces with different lighting levels.
  • Access to each deck is by steep ladders with narrow treads. Ladders must be faced to ascend and descend.
  • There are protrusions at and below head height. High-visibility paint is used where possible. It may be necessary to adopt a stooped position until clear of hatch coamings.
  • Doorways were designed to be water-tight and therefore have a threshold raised above deck level.
  • All public areas on HMS Belfast identified as containing asbestos have been sealed or encapsulated and are inspected regularly by the ship’s maintenance team.
  • From time to time, licensed contractors will be on board HMS Belfast to carry out work that will remove or reduce the amount of asbestos on board. This work will, in accordance with the Asbestos Regulation, be conducted in a manner that will not put visitors at risk.

Supervision, Behaviour and Recommended Attire 

  • Groups must have the correct leader-to-children ratio of 1:10.
  • Supervising group leaders must remain with their pupils/children at all times to supervise their activities, monitor their behaviour, ensure their health and safety, and accompany them in the event of an evacuation.
  • Lost pupils/children should make their way to the Quarter Deck, where staff will assist them in locating their supervising adult.
  • HMS Belfast reserves the right to refuse admission to groups who do not meet the adult-to-pupil [children] ratio on the day. We also reserve the right to eject visitors if:
    • A group or a member of the group engages in antisocial behaviour which adversely affects the safety/enjoyment of other visitors (including the drinking of alcohol)
    • A member of the group causes damage to exhibits
  • Please brief your pupils/children about appropriate behaviour and have contingency measures in place in case anyone is asked to leave the premises.
  • Kip in a Ship has a strict no alcohol policy. Drinking alcohol is not permitted on-board. HMS Belfast reserves the right to refuse admission to any leader or groups found to be intoxicated on-arrival. HMS Belfast also reserves the right to eject any leader or groups drinking alcohol on the premises.
  • Sensible footwear and outdoor clothing is recommended.

Fire and Evacuation

  • Supervising adults should familiarise themselves with the locations of all the fire exits. They should brief their pupils/children and accompanying adults about the evacuation procedures and agree an assembly point outside the buildings in advance of their visit.
  • A siren and announcements over the public-address system are used to alert staff and visitors of an evacuation. Lifts should not be used.
  • At the Assembly Point, teachers/leaders should take the register and report any missing persons to a member of HMS Belfast security staff.

First Aid

  • Please ask a member of staff if you require any treatment during your visit.
  • Please report any accidents to the Quarter Deck for recording on the accident register.
  • HMS Belfast has members of staff trained to provide basic first aid treatment, although first aid provision is ultimately the responsibility of the principal leader/teacher of the group.


  • HMS Belfast is covered by a comprehensive network of CCTV cameras. Images are monitored and recorded to help ensure the safety of visitors and the exhibits.
  • Please do not touch any unattended items. If you see anything suspicious, please report it to a member of staff immediately.
  • The visitor route is patrolled regularly.

Safeguarding Children and Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (DBS)

  • All staff have passed through a security vetting system and carry ID cards with their photograph so they can be recognised by visitors.
  • All group leaders must have Enhanced DBS checks.
  • Staff working directly with pupils are experienced professionals and have undergone the Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (formally known as the ‘Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau [CRB] disclosure’.)
  • HMS Belfast has a Safeguarding Policy in place.
  • Please report any incident or allegation of inappropriate behaviour to a member of staff immediately.

Activities & Exhibitions

  • Any materials to be handled as part of the programmed activities (such as in learning sessions) have been risk-assessed.
  • Staff leading the activities will advise those taking part of any necessary precautions and will ensure safe behaviour.
  • Exhibitions may display material relating to the consequences of conflict. Teachers/leaders should consider what is age-appropriate for their pupils/children.
  • The environment can be very disorientating. It is suggested that a meeting point in a highly visible location be agreed with all group members.

Concierge & On-board Briefing

  • Groups will be allocated an overnight concierge to assist them when they arrive.
  • Groups sleeping on board as part of the Kip in a Ship programme will receive a full safety brief on entering the accommodation mess deck.
  • The Concierge will assist the group should an evacuation become necessary. The concierge will sleep in a cabin on a different deck, which is linked to the adult cabins by telephone.
  • Please be aware that private functions may be taking place on board during the evening.

Sleepover Mess Decks

  • The two mess decks are adjoining with a door between them. This door cannot be locked. Each mess deck sleeps 26 children and has one adult cabin sleeping three.
  • Access to the mess decks is through a hatch way and down a steep ladder.
  • The accommodation is entirely enclosed and has no windows.
  • The hatches are closed at night and are fitted with an alarm to ensure any unauthorised entry/exit is notified immediately to the Concierge. The hatches are also monitored by the Concierge via CCTV.

Safeguarding children and young adults

  • Supervising adults will be above 19 years of age and have undergone the Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Checks.
  • When bringing a mix-gender group, it is up to the group leaders as to how you divide the group within the two mess deck areas.
  • For child protection reasons accompanying group leaders must sleep in the two allocated adult cabins.
  • Only named group leaders on the booking confirmation form will be admitted.