Safeguarding Policy (Full)
Duke Street Church (DSC) works with children, vulnerable adults and families as part of its activities. These include: Sunday School and Holiday Bible Club for children, Youth Group activities, Mother and Toddler groups, Seniors group and the Manna House work with the homeless and marginalised.
We commit to taking all reasonable steps to protect every person from physical, emotional or sexual abuse. All suspicions and allegations of poor practice or abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. DSC takes its duty seriously and promotes regular safeguarding training.
This policy applies to everyone working on behalf of DSC, including the board of trustees, staff, volunteers, It covers anyone no matter their age or apparent vulnerability. We recognise not all vulnerabilities are obvious.
This policy has been drawn up in accordance with legislation, such as the Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004, both of which are amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and the Care Act 2014. Also, guidance that seeks to protect children and vulnerable adults such as Safe from Harm (HM Govt 1994) and Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Govt 2018).
Purpose and general principles
1. The purpose of this policy is to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults who receive DSC’s services and the children of adults who use our services. It is also to provide parents, staff and volunteers with the principles that guide our approach to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.
2. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults is everyone's responsibility. Everyone who encounters children, vulnerable adults and their families has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action. To this effect, DSC ensures that there are appropriate procedures in place for appropriate action to be taken in a timely manner.
3. All concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, are recorded in writing and kept as a confidential record.
4. We recognise that the welfare of the child and vulnerable adult is paramount and all have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse.
5. We recognise specifically the vulnerabilities of children and vulnerable adults, and the additional safeguarding challenges and barriers that can exist when recognising abuse and neglect because of:
Special Educational Needs,
the impact of previous experiences,
their level of dependency,
their communication needs, or
6. Working in partnership with children, young people, vulnerable adults, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting welfare.
7. The welfare of children and vulnerable adults is safeguarded and promoted by DSC by developing child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures which reflect best practice, and by the drawing up and effective implementation of our written Risk Assessment, which takes appropriate action to reduce risks that are identified. DSC takes a proportional risk-based approach to the level of information that is provided to temporary staff and volunteers.
8. In the appendices, guidance in implementation of these policies is given for children’s and youth ministries, and for safeguarding procedures in various situations.
DSC uses definitions of the term ‘safeguarding’ from statutory guidance.
1. Safeguarding children is defined in Working Together to Safeguard Children as:
● protecting children from maltreatment
● preventing impairment of children’s health or development
● ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
● taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
2. Safeguarding vulnerable adults is defined in the Care and Support Statutory Guidance issued under the Care Act 2014 as:
● protecting the rights of adults to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect
● people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect
● people and organisations making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, taking fully into account their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action
● recognising that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances and therefore potential risks to their safety or well-being.
Note: We recognise some adults may not be classed as vulnerable but may present signs of abuse (e.g. domestic violence) or disclose abuse. This procedure outlined in this policy can be applied to anyone.
To ensure effective management of this and related policies and its implementation, we have appointed nominated responsible people as follows:
Isabel Baird (Safeguarding Lead 07818 473128, email@example.com)
● Chuck Bateman (Trustee with oversight over Safeguarding 07917 815057)
● Matt Bailey (Head of Ministry Support: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) coordinator 07930 687858).
The Safeguarding Lead has the following responsibilities:
Work with the Safeguarding Team in ensuring that appropriate arrangements are in place for keeping children, young people, vulnerable adults, and Duke Street Church staff safe and free from harassment.
Take the lead in addressing any issues that may constitute a violation of the safety or harassment guidelines of DSC.
Be the first point of contact for children, parents, staff, and vulnerable adults who have concerns regarding their wellbeing related to safeguarding.
As part of the Safeguarding Team, ensure that Trustees are kept up to date with safeguarding issues and are fully informed of any concerns about organisational safeguarding and child protection
The Safeguarding Lead will attend training specifically designed for a safeguarding and child protection coordinator.
In addressing any safety or harassment concerns, the Lead may call upon outside council as well as advisors amongst the Trustees or recognised church leaders (for example, children’s leaders or program coordinators).
The Lead will report all incidents to Trustees, maintaining confidentiality of individuals, and keep a written record of the issue and of the outcome.
The Lead will lead a lessons-learned review of any incidents which arise, focusing on any improvements or revisions required in the church safeguarding policy.
Liaison with other bodies
We have procedures for contacting the local authority on safeguarding issues. We work in partnership with local statutory agencies, including social services, to report concerns. Using our safeguarding procedures we are able to share concerns and relevant information with other agencies confidentially where appropriate.
Recruitment of Staff and Volunteers
Our recruitment procedures have the following objectives:
We aim to ensure safe and fair recruitment. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults is an integral factor in our recruitment and selection and is an essential part of creating safe environments for children, vulnerable adults and young people. All staff and volunteers who work with children will be recruited with regard to their suitability for that responsibility, and will be provided with guidance and training in good practice and child protection procedures.
We want to do all we can to ensure that no disqualified or unfit person works in DSC or has access to children and vulnerable adults. Though not an exhaustive list, this will include checks via the DBS, checks against the appropriate Barred List, prohibition checks (where necessary), employment history, appropriate references and whether a person is disqualified from working with children (including by association, where applicable to the role applied for).
We take particular care to ensure those involved in one-to-one sessions are aware of their safeguarding responsibilities.
Applicants for posts within DSC are clearly informed if the positions are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (and the Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations where appropriate). Candidates are informed of the need to carry out checks before posts can be confirmed, and that any job offer will be withdrawn if any check is not satisfactory. Where applications are rejected because of information that has been disclosed, applicants have the right to know and to challenge incorrect information.
Volunteers who have not been through the full vetting process do not work unsupervised.
External Workers and Visitors Checks and Training
We take all appropriate steps to ensure that checks are made on any staff employed by another agency working in DSC. All external hirers working with children and making use of the DSC facilities will be required to provide a copy of their Safeguarding Policy and ensure that their staff are DBS checked.
New staff and volunteers in groups that have access to children or vulnerable adults need to have a DBS check and are required to participate in induction training appropriate to their role. This will include as a minimum:
● DSC’s safeguarding policy;
● The Code of Conduct for staff;
● Whistleblowing procedures/ policy
Such induction training will usually take place within the first few weeks of employment.
All existing staff and volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults receive updated training at regular intervals. We aim to ensure this happens at least once every three years.
A record of training in safeguarding/ child protection is kept on a central record by the Head of Ministry Support.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks
Anyone working directly with children and/or vulnerable adults, or who is likely to come into contact with them will be asked to have a DBS check done before commencing their role with DSC. The employment or volunteer agreement is subject to a satisfactory DBS disclosure.
As a matter of course, all trustees and staff will have a DBS check.
There is a further obligation to notify DSC immediately if at any time during employment, if a staff member or volunteer is charged with or convicted of any criminal offences or is in receipt of any indictments or cautions. Failure by a staff member to notify DSC of any such charges, convictions, indictments, or cautions, may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for gross misconduct.
Staff guidelines are laid out in the Staff Handbook, which includes detailed policies regarding Security, Code of Conduct, Ethics and Confidentiality, and a Grievance Policy. Some of these policies are repeated in the following for clarity.
Allegations of Abuse Against Members of Staff or Volunteers
By this we mean allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person working or looking after children/ vulnerable adults in DSC (whether that allegation relates to harm or abuse committed on our premises or elsewhere) or of any other abuse which is alleged to have taken place on the premises or elsewhere. Allegations must be reported immediately.
DSC will adhere to the statutory guidance on dealing with allegations of abuse in force at the time, with any further action - including investigation.
DSC will consider and thoroughly investigate any allegation expeditiously, fairly and consistently, avoiding all unnecessary delays. The aim will always be to ensure a quick resolution to the benefit of all concerned; the nature, seriousness and complexity of the allegation will have a bearing on timescales.
In the case of serious harm, the Police will be informed from the outset.
Where appropriate, the person who is subject of an allegation will be notified as soon as is practicable and will be provided with as much information as possible at that time (NB: in some instances, DSC may not be permitted to disclose full details).
Suspension will never be a default option; DSC will always consider whether the circumstances warrant suspension and/or reasonable alternative arrangements (such as redeployment or working under supervision) are appropriate before a final decision is given in this regard. The individual will be notified of the reasons and justification for suspension and provided with a named contact within one working day.
Allegations that are found to have been malicious will be removed from personnel records. We will not refer to any unsubstantiated, unfounded or malicious allegations in employer references.
Whilst care will be taken to ensure the effective protection of the child or adult making the allegation, we will always provide appropriate support to the person who is the subject of the allegation.
There are restrictions on the reporting or publishing of allegations against staff, and DSC will take all reasonable steps to ensure that confidentiality is maintained and guard against unwanted publicity while an allegation is being investigated. These restrictions apply up to the point where the accused is charged with an offence.
If the subject of an allegation chooses to resign their employment, DSC will continue with its investigation and will make every effort to reach a conclusion regardless of whether the individual chooses to assist the investigation.
DSC claims to create and maintain an environment where staff feel supported in their safeguarding role and able to raise concerns, including about poor or unsafe practice and potential failures in DSC’s safeguarding regime.
All staff are required to report to their Line Manager or the Safeguarding Trustee any concern or allegations regarding DSC practices or the behaviour of colleagues which are likely to put children or vulnerable adults at risk of abuse or other serious harm. There will be no retribution or disciplinary action taken against a member of staff for making such a report if it is done in good faith.
DSC has a separate Whistleblowing Policy.
DSC is committed to the prevention of bullying of all – adults, children and young people. DSC will not accept bullying in any form, and everyone should know that they can report any incidents of bullying. The experience of feeling bullied is enough to report. Any allegations will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated. Steps will be taken to stop the bullying immediately, and if applicable, the parents of the bully and the bullied will be informed. Bullies will be helped to try to change their behaviour.
All allegations and incidents of bullying will be recorded on an incident form, with details of actions taken.
Bullying may include the following:
name-calling, teasing or mocking;
physical intimidation, such as hitting or kicking;
unwanted sexual contact or sexually abusive comments;
persistently stealing or “borrowing” items;
inappropriate texting or e-mailing;
sending offensive or degrading images by phone or e-mail;
abusive use of social networking sites;
gossip and harmful rumours;
unwarranted exclusion from groups or activities;
practical jokes which cause physical or emotional harm.
Bullies can be adults or children and signs of bullying may include withdrawal and unwillingness to participate in activities, as well as physical symptoms such as torn clothing or bruises.
It can also be the case that bullies may be people in authority in the church or who have leadership roles. They may use their role to ask and expect unrealistic things from people, and this is also not to be tolerated.
Suspicions of Abuse or Concerns About a Child’s/Vulnerable Adult’s Welfare
On appointment, and as part of the regular training to update staff on child welfare and safeguarding issues, all staff learn how to report suspicions of abuse or concerns about a child/ vulnerable adult’s welfare to the line manager/ Safeguarding Trustee.
When a member of staff wishes to report a suspicion or concern, they are asked to complete a written record, which is always given to the Safeguarding Lead / Trustee, who will take action as appropriate. All records are kept confidential and reviewed regularly so that concerning patterns of behaviour can be spotted.
Responding to Suspicions of Abuse
We acknowledge that abuse can take different forms - physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
● When children are suffering from physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, this may be demonstrated through changes in their behaviour, or in their play.
● When adults are suffering from physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, it will also likely be demonstrated through changes in their behaviour.
Where such changes in behaviour occur, or where children’s play gives cause for concern and there is a possibility of a child suffering significant harm, the Safeguarding Lead may consult Children’s or Adult Services.
We allow investigation to be carried out with sensitivity and follow due process. Staff in the DSC take care not to influence the outcome, either through the way they speak to children or ask questions of children.
Where a child or vulnerable adult shows signs and symptoms of neglect or of a failure to thrive, we make appropriate referrals.
Regarding children, if at any time, it is considered that the child may be a child in need as defined in the Children Act 1989, or that the child has suffered significant harm or is likely to do so, a referral will be made immediately to Local Authority’s children’s social care. This referral can be made by any professional but would usually be made by the Safeguarding Lead / Trustee. If any member of staff makes a referral directly to Local Authority’s children’s social care, they should notify the Safeguarding Lead / Trustee as soon as possible thereafter.
Where a child or adult makes a disclosure to a member of staff, that member of staff:
● Offers reassurance;
● Gives reassurance that she or he will take action;
● Does not question the child/vulnerable adult;
● Must not promise confidentiality;
● Must always refer the matter to their line manager / Safeguarding Lead and complete a written safeguarding report.
Recording Suspicions of Abuse and Disclosures
Using the Safeguarding Concern Sheet, staff make a written record of:
● The person’s name;
● The date and time of the observation or the disclosure;
● An objective record of the observation or disclosure;
● The exact words spoken by the child;
● The name of the person to whom the concern was reported, with date and time
● The names of any other person present at the time.
These Safeguarding Concern records are signed and dated and kept in a separate confidential file. All members of staff are trained in the procedures for recording and reporting by written record.
Whilst cases are active, confidential records are kept and updated regularly by the Safeguarding Lead.
Taking Concerns Forward
Where a safeguarding concern exists, the Safeguarding Lead on duty will notify the matter to the appropriate services using the specified forms and procedures. Records will be kept securely and with limited access.
Subsequent to a referral to Children’s social care, a relevant Duty Social Worker (DSW) will advise next steps. The responsibility for communication to the parents would usually be exercised by the Safeguarding Lead or by a suitably trained deputy. In cases where the parent is the likely abuser, the Local Authority investigating officers/ Police will inform parents.
All suspicions and investigations are kept confidential and shared only with those who need to know. Any information is shared under the guidance of the Safeguarding Lead. Confidentiality cannot be promised.
Use of Email
Staff are advised not to use email to write down or report abuse or concerns. If for any reason email is considered appropriate to communicate to another party, the child’s full name or other features that would identify him/her should not be included. The Safeguarding Lead may use email to report to authorities as long as it is a secure system e.g. local authorities have provisions for this. The key thing is to check how authorities want the information.