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Responsibilities

The Safeguarding Children Policy must be adopted and owned by the whole church. The policy statement itself should be discussed and formally adopted by the Church Meeting. This is important because safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility in the life of the church. However, for the policy to be effective, particular responsibilities have to be assigned to named people. If everyone has responsibility for everything there is a danger that no one will take responsibility for anything.

Trustees/Deacons

The trustees/deacons of the church are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the policy is implemented and resourced in the church.  It is the trustees/deacons who have a duty of care to the children and young people who are involved in the life of the church.  Should there be an incident that gives rise to an investigation in the life of the church, it will be the trustees/deacons who will be deemed to be responsible for the outworking of the church’s policy and procedures.  It will also be the trustees/deacons who will be held responsible for any legal obligations that arise under the revised Vetting and Barring Scheme.

Therefore all trustees should be fully conversant with the church’s Safeguarding Children Policy. The trustees should:

  • have a mechanism for monitoring or reviewing the policy

  • give support to those who are working with children and young people

  • ensure that the training needs of workers are met

  • make appropriate budget provisions for children’s and young people’s work, including budget provision for the training of workers

  • find ways of communicating the policy to all within the church

Much of the work involved in implementing the policy can certainly be delegated to others within the church.  The trustees can delegate the power to put in place the policy and procedures.  However, trustees are not in a position to delegate their responsibility.  The ultimate responsibility for the church’s safeguarding policy will always remain with the trustees/deacons.

In order to help the trustees meet their responsibilities and keep safeguarding on their agenda it is good practice to appoint one of the trustees to take a lead on safeguarding matters.  It is not necessary for this person to have expertise in the area of safeguarding, only an understanding of the church’s policy and procedures and a readiness to oversee this area of the church’s life on behalf of the trustees.

Safeguarding Trustee/Deacon

The responsibilities of the Safeguarding Trustee/Deacon are:

  • to ensure on behalf of the trustees/deacons that there is a proper process in place to write and update the safeguarding policy and procedures

  • to monitor the implementation of the policy and procedures on behalf of the trustees

  • to ensure that the policy and procedures are reviewed annually and to present the report of the annual review to the trustees

  • to receive reports from the Designated Person for Safeguarding (see below) regarding any safeguarding incidents in the life of the church and to be responsible for keeping the trustees informed as appropriate

In the event that there is no trustee/deacon named to take on this responsibility it should be assumed that this role will be taken by the Church Secretary.

Please note – it is not being suggested that the person who ‘heads up’ safeguarding matters in the church must be a member of the diaconate/board of trustees.  It is perfectly appropriate for the person who co-ordinates the church’s safeguarding policy and practice not to be a trustee/deacon (although, of course, they may be). We are simply recommending that one of the trustees/deacons is identified as the person who will take a particular interest in this area of the life of the church on behalf of the other trustees/deacons.

This appointment can be made by the trustees/deacons and reported to the church meeting, although some churches may take the appointment as a recommendation from the trustees/deacons to be ratified by the church meeting.

Designated Person for Safeguarding

The church meeting needs to appoint a Designated Person for Safeguarding. This is the person who will take a key role in helping the church to respond appropriately to any concerns that are raised about the safety or well-being of children and young people.  This should, as far as possible, be someone with relevant knowledge and skills for the role, or someone who is willing to develop such skills.  The role does not need to be filled by someone with professional experience in safeguarding, but the person who takes it on does need to give time to understanding the principles of safeguarding.

The Designated Person may be the same as the Safeguarding Trustee/Deacon, although very often will not be.  The Designated Person does not need to be a trustee of the church.  Indeed it would be possible for the Designated Person to be a member of another church.

It is possible for the Designated Person to have other responsibilities in the church’s work with children and young people, although when this is the case procedures will need to be agreed in the event that there is any suspicion or allegation concerning the conduct of the Designated Person.

The Designated Person can work as part of a team, but one person should take the lead in the team and be the named person for the role.

The Designated Person’s role is to:

  • receive and record information from anyone who has safeguarding concerns

  • assess the information promptly and carefully, clarifying or obtaining more information when they need to

  • consult with outside bodies where appropriate to discuss concerns - for example a Regional Minister, the Local Authority Designated Officer, Social Services or the police child abuse investigation team

  • make a formal referral to Social Services or the police if appropriate or as advised

  • inform both the Safeguarding Trustee/Deacon and the minister of any referral

  • make referrals as appropriate to the Independent Safeguarding Authority

  • be the link between the church and the local Baptist Association for safeguarding matters

Although the Designated Person may be the person who co-ordinates the applications for DBS Disclosures, it is not necessary for this administrative work to be carried out by the Designated Person. This piece of work could be taken on by someone else.

We are recommending that the term ‘Designated Person’ is adopted by all churches wherever possible.  We believe that there would be much to be gained by Baptist churches using similar terminology for those who have significant responsibilities for the church’s safeguarding policies and procedures.  It will help in the development of training packages for Baptist churches and will also aid those in Associations who are offering help and guidance to churches in safeguarding matters.  The title ‘Designated Person’ will also be more readily recognised by other agencies who may interact with churches.

Many churches will currently use terms adopted in previous editions of Safe to Grow such as ‘children’s advocate’ or ‘responsible person’.  Other churches may use alternative terminology such as ‘safeguarding co-ordinator’.  If churches, for internal reasons, decide to continue using these other job titles because those in the church have become familiar with them, it would be helpful for churches also to identify this person as the ‘Designated Person’.

The Minister

As a member of the trustee body of the church, the minister shares with all of the trustees the general responsibility for the adoption and implementation of the church’s safeguarding policy.  The minister will often need to be proactive in ensuring that the church takes seriously its responsibilities in this regard and in helping the church to see this as part of the church’s gospel responsibilities.

In addition to the responsibilities that the minister shares with all of the trustees, the minister will have particular pastoral responsibilities. The minister should therefore:

  • be made aware of any safeguarding and child protection issues within the church

  • take responsibility for ensuring that appropriate pastoral support is provided in the context of any safeguarding investigation. In these circumstances the minister’s responsibility is to offer pastoral leadership to the whole church community. It may not be appropriate for the minister to offer pastoral care directly to those involved, but to ensure that the pastoral needs of all are being met. It is important for the minister to recognise that:

    • it is not possible or appropriate for one person to offer pastoral care to both an alleged victim and an alleged perpetrator of abuse

    • church communities can too easily become polarised in these situations and it is important for the minister to be able to take a role that seeks to hold the church together.

Wherever possible the minister should not be the Designated Person for Safeguarding.  If the minister is the person in the church responsible for making referrals to the statutory authorities when safeguarding concerns arise, the minister’s capacity to offer pastoral leadership that holds the church community together may be compromised.

While it would be possible (and on occasions may be necessary) for the minister to take on the role of Safeguarding Trustee/Deacon, wherever possible we would encourage churches to identify another member of the trustee body to take on this responsibility. 

Workers with Children and Young People

All of those who work with children (without exception) should take personal responsibility for implementing the policy. They should each:

  • know and implement the guidelines for good practice

  • follow the agreed code of behaviour when working with children and young people

  • be aware of ways in which children and young people are harmed and possible signs of abuse

  • know what to do if a child or young person discloses abuse

  • know what to do if an allegation is made about a fellow worker

  • know who to speak to if they have any suspicions or concerns

Leaders of Children's and Young People's Groups

All leaders of groups will need to know all of the above. They will also need to know:

  • how to go about appointing new staff/volunteers, including DBS checks

  • the principles of good supervision

  • what to do if one of their workers shares with them a concern about a child or young person

  • how to contact the Designated Person

  • how to access pastoral support for workers

All Attendees (Church Members or Non-Church Members)

All church attendees have a part to play.  It is the responsibility of all within the church community to ensure there is a welcome for children and young people and an intolerance of all that brings them harm.  All attendees should be alert to situations where children may be vulnerable.  All should know who to speak to if they suspect that a child or young person is being harmed.

 
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