What is Safeguarding?
Every human being has a value and dignity which we as Catholics acknowledge as coming directly from God’s creation of male and female in the image and likeness of God. This implies a duty to value all people and therefore to support them and protect them from harm.
The Catholic Church of England and Wales, the Bishops and Religious Congregational Leaders are committed to safeguarding as an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church and affirm a ‘One Church’ approach to safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk through the promotion of a sustained culture of constant vigilance. The ‘best interests’ or ‘paramount chief principle’, which underpins and is enshrined in child and adult protection legislation, shall be the primary consideration in all matters of safeguarding. This ‘One Church’ approach should also be adopted by lay associations of the faithful ministering to children and adults at risk in the name of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church and its individual members will undertake appropriate steps to maintain a safe environment for all, by practising fully and positively Christ’s Ministry towards children, young people and adults and responding sensitively and compassionately to their needs in order to help keep them safe from harm. This is demonstrated by the provision of carefully planned activities for children, young people and adults, caring for those hurt by abuse and ministering to and robustly managing those who have caused harm.
What safeguarding structures are in place?
The Catholic Church has in place a National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), which is an independent body working within the framework of the Church in England and Wales. It is mandated by the Conference of Bishops and Conference of Religious Congregations and has accountability across Dioceses and Religious Congregations to ensure that standards are met and policies are implemented. Established in 2008, the NCSC sets the strategic direction of the Church’s safeguarding policy for children, young people and adults at risk. It is also responsible for developing quality assurance processes which includes monitoring and auditing the compliance of the Church with safeguarding procedures. The NCSC is leading on the development of pastoral support services on a national basis and is informed by the Survivor Advisory Panel which it has established to ensure that the voices of survivors and victims of abuse informs the work of the NCSC.
What happens if an allegation of abuse is made to the Church authority?
The Church authorities always report allegations of abuse to the statutory agencies to ensure that they are dealt with promptly and properly, and where appropriate, perpetrators are held to account. The Church will act in an open, transparent and accountable way in working in partnership with social care services, the Police, health agencies, probation services and other relevant agencies to safeguard children and adults at risk and assist in bringing to justice anyone who has committed an offence against a child or adult.
How can we be sure that the vulnerable in our communities are safe?
The Church seeks to ensure that its parishes, religious congregations and lay associations of the faithful acting in the name of the Church have the confidence to enable vulnerable people to have peace of mind, knowing they will be cared for and loved by their Christian community. All churches, faith communities and lay associations that are working in the name of the Church with children and adults at risk are expected to have in place arrangements which include:
- Procedures to respond to and report concerns and allegations
- Codes of conduct
- Safer recruitment procedures
- Information sharing arrangements
- Support and supervision of staff and volunteers
- Training on safeguarding
Who is responsible for safeguarding?
Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable people. In England & Wales overall responsibility sits with the Bishops Conference and the Conference of Religious.
How does this work across the country?
Following the release of “Safeguarding with Confidence,” the report of the Cumberlege Commission in 2007, a National Catholic Safeguarding Commission was established. This reports directly to the Conference of Bishops and the Conference of Religious.
The Commission also oversees and manages the work of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service. This (CSAS) is the National Office with responsibility for developing and supporting the implementation of National Policies and Procedures. It has a primary role in supporting and advising Diocesan Safeguarding arrangements. The National Office meets regularly with Safeguarding Co-ordinators and Officers from the Dioceses in order to improve consistency of practice and identify learning and development needs.
How does it work with a Religious Congregation?
The Provincial Superior is responsible for safeguarding issues in his Congregation. He delegates responsibility via the Trustees to the Safeguarding Commission. The Safeguarding Commission, together with the Provincial Superior, appoint a Safeguarding Co-ordinator. The Commission is accountable to the Provincial Superior and advise him on policy implementation and best practice. The Co-ordinator reports to the Commission and is accountable to the Provincial Superior via the Commission
What is the Safeguarding Commission?
It is a group of independent professional people, appointed by the Provincial Superior, to oversee the implementation of Safeguarding Policies. The membership is made up of people with specific experience and expertise in safeguarding issues. The Commission meets regularly to discuss policies and procedures, receive reports from the Co-ordinator and when necessary to discuss investigations and other case work and prepare reports for the Provincial Superior.
What should I do if I think a vulnerable person is at risk or is being abused?
NEVER discuss this with the person who you think is the abuser. If you have witnessed abuse or received an allegation of abuse where a child is in immediate danger you must inform the Statutory Authorities (Police/Social Services). You should then inform the Safeguarding Coordinator that you have done this. If you think there is no immediate danger you must report the allegation to the Co-ordinator immediately, who will then inform the Statutory Authorities.
If you think that someone is being groomed, discuss the issue with the Safeguarding Co-ordinator who will agree with you what action to take.
“Grooming” is a process undertaken by those seeking to perpetrate sexual abuse. This can take months, sometimes years, and will almost inevitably involve grooming of parents/carers. In its early stages, grooming may be misinterpreted as kindness or helpfulness, while latterly it tends to become increasingly coercive and manipulative.
For more information please follow the link below:
Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service