Our new Safeguarding Policy is now in draft form and we have begun to modify it. It is important that we get this right and that the policy is both informative (whilst not resembling ‘War and Peace’!) and easy to access for both clergy and laity. This is likely to mean that it won’t be available as early as I’d hoped but I still hope to publish it on the website by early September. The new policy encompasses both children and vulnerable adults and there will be supporting guidance/documents that will run alongside. It is the intention to have printed copies of this in all parishes.
Our Offender agreement has now been updated in line with the national policy and a protocol provided to guide clergy and others through the process. This will be placed on the website with some guidance notes at the end of this month. We are also developing a ‘Covenant of Care’ which can be used with those who don’t have a conviction but are a cause for concern due to behaviour witnessed in the parish / diocese.
The Role of Children’s Advocate and the Future
We are very fortunate to have a number of highly motivated and dedicated children’s advocates throughout the Diocese for which we are very grateful. However the current guidelines recommend that the children’s advocate is not a children’s worker or paid worker in the parish (or related to one) so this sometimes technically prevents the most qualified of people in the parish taking on this role!
In line with the development of our new policy, we have looked at the various roles in the parish and have decided to make the following changes.
- We are going to remove the safeguarding element of the Children’s Advocate role and re-name it ‘Children’s Champion’. This will allow you to concentrate fully on being the voice for the children and ensure that the parish is doing the best they can to nurture them and help them to grow in the love of Christ.
- Each parish will then appoint at least one ‘Safeguarding Officer’ (a new post) whose role will be to ensure that the safeguarding policies and parish procedures are carried out, that the presence, needs and interests of vulnerable groups (both children and adults) are recognised and to help deal with any issues that arise/are reported. They will obviously need to work closely with the Children’s Champion.
- The role of Evidence Checker will remain unchanged.
Role descriptions for these posts will be available on the website soon – keep checking Ministry Matters for information! These changes will take effect in the Autumn to allow you a little time to organise the roles within your parishes.
The Government are changing the definition of regulated activity with effect from September. This will impact on those that we can request a CRB disclosure for. Full details will be sent out to Evidence checkers in their next newsletter and I will detail the changes in the next Ministry Matters.
This will make it even more important that we have robust safeguarding measures in our parishes (you should follow safer recruitment practices – references, an interview, a probationary period and a CRB disclosure if they meet the criteria, – have supervision for your workers, provide them with training and review their role regularly – this would apply whether workers are paid or voluntary).
I am aware that there was an article in the Church Times concerning clergy in Chichester and their suitability (or not!) to work with children as their CRB disclosure was completed more than five years ago.
It is not intended for us to follow Chichester’s example. There is no legal requirement to renew CRB disclosures; it is up to individual organisations to decide upon the necessity and frequency of doing this. This does not appear in national policy relating to children or vulnerable adults – it may be a recommendation but not one that I am aware of. Robust safeguarding processes in place (such as safer recruitment, parish policy guidelines etc) are of more value in reducing temptations and the likelihood of offences being committed than a CRB disclosure alone which simply means we can ‘tick a box’.
As you know, it hasn’t to date been diocesan practice to renew CRB disclosures however we recognise that this is not good practice. We will therefore be SLOWLY introducing re-checks every 5 years. I have already spoken to the PAs in Bishops’ and Archdeacons’ offices at their last meeting and let them know that this will begin towards the end of the year. I have asked them to think about implementing a rolling programme of renewals in order to make the process manageable.
With regards to the laity, I will also be letting evidence checkers know about this but there are a lot of changes relating to CRBs coming on line and I want to introduce this slowly to them – again a rolling programme of renewals for laity will be introduced but not until early 2013.
Bishops and Archdeacons have already received this information.
Safeguarding Concerns Flow Diagram
We now have finalised a new flow chart for dealing with safeguarding issues; this can be viewed here.