Safeguarding Policy

Penlee Cluster Safeguarding Policy

 

GUIDELINES FOR GOOD PRACTICE WHEN WORKING WITH CHILDREN OR ADULTS WITH VULNERABILITIES

Although the number of people who actively seek to do harm to children or adults may be small, churches can reduce the opportunities for abuse to occur. Procedures that are set in place to protect people should apply to all. Each parish needs to consider all roles. This should include not only clergy, organists and choir leaders but also bell ringers, pastoral visitors, Concerts Organisers and people hiring our venues.

These procedures are designed to protect all who have contact with children and vulnerable adults. In order to achieve this, there are some recommendations, as follows:

1i Staffing Ratio when working with Children

Parishes should ensure that:-

·       A minimum of two leaders/workers are always present.

·       If there are more than 20 children present there should be one additional leader/worker for every ten (or part of ten) young people.

·       Under 18s cannot be included in staffing ratios.

·       With under 8s a ratio of leaders to children of 1:6 is recommended and should be encouraged.

·       Both genders should be represented in the leadership of groups whenever possible. This is especially important with older children and young people on residential trips. Where both boys and girls are present there MUST be both male and female leaders/workers.

·       For activities away from the normal meeting place additional leaders should be present.

1.ii Staffing Ratio when working with Vulnerable Adults

Parishes should ensure that:-

·       A minimum of two leaders/workers are always present

·       Parishes should carry out a risk assessment based on the nature of the activity and the requirements of the individuals concerned. A record of the risk assessment is to be kept.

2. One-to-One Situations. Leaders/workers need to think and act carefully to avoid situations which could lead to embarrassment, temptations or accusations. If an individual feels uneasy about anything done or said, in any situation, they should make and keep a factual record of such and seek advice. If an individual is conducting a home visit, they should consider informing a third party of their arrangements and, if appropriate, make an appointment.

3.    Relationship of Trust. Young people (over the age of consent but under the age of 18 years) and vulnerable adults need to be protected from sexual activity with adults who are within a 'relationship of trust' (this is defined as a relationship where an adult has responsibility, which gives power or influence over another). Any behaviour or situation which might allow a sexual relationship to develop would be unacceptable and must be avoided, as long as the relationship of trust exists.

4.    Young Helpers. Young people under 18 helping with groups do not need to be appointed in line with the ‘Safer Recruitment’ national policy, but they should not be left on their own nor should they be allowed to take a group off into another room without appropriate adult supervision. It should be the concern of the church to protect young helpers from compromising or uncertain situations.

5.    Touching and demonstrations of affection All humans have a need for affection and physical contact, but all are entitled to determine the degree of physical contact with others, except in exceptional circumstances e.g. emergency medical treatment. Touch should be related to the individuals needs not those of the workers and should be age appropriate. Be open and public about showing affection. A hug in the context of a group is very different from a hug behind closed doors. Physical punishment, towards either a child or vulnerable adult, in any form must not be used in any circumstances.

6.    Car or Minibus Travel. Single lifts in cars should only be in an emergency, not a regular occurrence, as these would leave both the recipient and the worker vulnerable. If a Minibus is used ideally there should be two adults in the vehicle. Drivers need to be aware of the legislative requirements, e.g. child boosters, seat belts, insurance etc.

7.    Casual Visitors. Casual visitors should not have access to a group without the presence of an adult responsible for the group. It is this adult who must take responsibility for any visitors within the group setting.

8.    An Independent Person. House of Bishop's Policy 'Protecting All God's Children' and ‘Promoting a Safe Church’ suggests that churches should introduce a system whereby children and vulnerable adults may talk with an independent person. The Parish Safeguarding Children Coordinator or the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Coordinator may be able to fulfil this role in some circumstances. Parishes should also ensure that they display the number of Childline − and similar local organisations for vulnerable adults − on notice boards in church porches and any other church buildings where people meet. A suggested notice can be found in Appendix C.

An Authorised Listener can also be made available to anyone who wishes to talk about abuse that has happened in their earlier life. The AL will be able to signpost to other agencies, where appropriate, but will primarily be available to listen and understand from within the context of The Church.

DSC Safeguarding Guidelines April 2016 Page 17 of 54

9.    Safety of Buildings. Churches should work towards ensuring that premises are safe by completing Health and Safety checks on buildings and Risk Assessments carried out for activities. A suggested pro-forma for Risk Assessments can be found at Appendix H.

10. Emergencies. A First Aid Kit should be available on the premises; it should be checked frequently and replenished as necessary; it should include disposable gloves for dealing with wounds. There should be an accident record book for recording injuries / ailments and any treatment given. Encourage workers to undertake First Aid Training. Leaders and workers should have a mobile phone with them. Workers should know the position of all fire extinguishers, emergency exits and toilets.

11. Registration. An up-to-date register of information of attendees in all groups must be kept securely and include name, address, telephone number, medications and permission to ‘act as a reasonable parent would’, where necessary for the duration of each session.

12. Outings. Consent forms must be obtained from the parents/guardians or carers of children where appropriate for activities taking place away from the normal meeting place. A sample consent form is given at Appendix I for short outings or Appendix J for whole-day or residential trips. Permission from parents or legal guardians must be obtained for children.

13. Taking Photographs and Publishing Images.

Images of any type − photographs, digital images or films − count as personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. It is important that the consent of children, (their parents) and vulnerable adults is obtained for the making and use of images. It is important to note that there may be good reasons for refusing consent such as:

·       Children may have been placed in alternative families by the local authority or could have been involved in legal disputes.

·       Identification of individuals may put them at risk of being targeted by potential abusers.

·       Digital images can be manipulated for child sexual exploitation on the internet.

Good practice therefore requires that:

·       Verbal consent is obtained from the subjects, child’s parents / carers before making images.

·       Written consent is obtained if the images are to be published or displayed.

An oral notice given out before a nativity play or carol concert may not allow parents/careers sufficient opportunity and time to object or discuss the implications. In these cases, a more formal notice would be appropriate. It would allow a parent/carer to take evasive action at a general gathering where the official photographer is identified.

If the event is one for which parental consent is needed anyway, suitable wording can be added to the form asking for permission to photograph, video, or publish images on the internet or hard copy.

In general, avoid naming children or only use a first name if the image is to be publicised. It is important that all images are appropriate. Group pictures are more desirable than pictures of single children. Dispose of images when no longer required.

14. The Internet, Online Safety and Social Media

Overview

The World Wide Web, social networking sites and gaming sites are part of everyday life for a large percentage of the population. There are now upwards of 1.5 billion people worldwide who have access to the internet.
The internet is a fantastic resource and used to advantage by many in the Church. With this great resource come many great opportunities, but it also carries important responsibilities and a need for heightened awareness of the possible risks and shortfalls that exist.

Why we must Proceed with Caution

The internet can be used to ‘groom’ people into dropping their guard, sharing personal information, and digital images unwisely. Internet activity is often thought to be both a secure and a private pastime. In reality, internet activities are inherently insecure and information can easily enter the public domain unintentionally.

Whilst engaged on the internet there are a number of ways in which a user might become vulnerable to certain forms of abuse. For example:

1. Internet Grooming. Children and some adults can be at risk of sexual abuse through internet grooming. This is when someone tries to gain trust with the aim of sexually or financially abusing. With sexual abuse images can be manipulated and people can be put under pressure to meet up with someone who turns out to be somebody other than who they claim to be. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) have produced a mini film Matt Thought He Knew which highlights this issue well. Look for it on YouTube. With financial abuse, people may ‘hook’ you in to sending money with a story that is hard to resist.

2. Phishing. People can also be tricked into giving identifying information, which can lead to theft through accessing bank accounts. This is called ‘phishing’. Some individuals are then at risk of being added to unofficial lists which highlight them as people easily conned. These are called ‘sucker lists’. This is also an issue for children as highlighted by ‘UK Children Go Online’ (Livingstone & Bober, 2005) which found 49% of children claim to have given personal information out online, but only 5% of their parents recognised this to be the case.

3. Cyber bullying and online ‘fights’. If a person is sent hurtful or threatening messages via email, texting or in chat rooms, this is ‘cyber bullying’. The phenomenon is particularly insidious as it can be done anonymously. This appears to reduce the inhibitions of many who engage in it, thereby increasing the severity. Receiving anonymous messages is often experienced as more upsetting than knowing who it is that is doing the bullying, not least because of the inability to respond. Because the ‘hurt’ is generally emotional, and not physical, this activity has been poorly understood and thus all too often ineffectively dealt with.

4. Sexting. This is the act of sending and receiving sexually explicit material between mobile phones. These images are hard to remove from the internet if someone uploads them. They can reappear in later years, for example, causing acute embarrassment. More seriously they can be used by strangers to bully and blackmail. Those who aim to groom children sometimes pretend to be the person in the images thus breaking down boundaries and building ‘trust’ with vulnerable individuals.

5. Inappropriate material. We must not forget that children and vulnerable adults can be exposed to unsuitable material whilst searching the internet, as all manner of ‘links’ can guide people in directions they had not intended. Just as we would not like our children to venture into certain parts of town, for example, certain areas of cyberspace are not appropriate for children. Conversely, of course, some areas are designed for children and are not relevant for adults. It is important to note the existence of racist and other hate sites, pornography, those advocating self-harm, drug taking, suicide and gambling. We may have read of terrible situations where people have been encouraged or bullied into actions which have been extremely harmful to themselves or others.

Guidance for the Use of Social Media and Emailing

When communicating with children or vulnerable adults, it is advisable to encourage face-to- face contact. However, the setting up and the running of groups might benefit from the use of social media or other forms of electronic communication; but certain boundaries are required in order to safeguard individuals involved:

·       Use an agreed social networking account that is accessible to the group and set up for the purpose. Personal accounts are not to be used. Security settings must be in place and personal information guarded.

·       Use to disseminate information to the group. It is not to be used for ‘conversations’, socialising or relationship building.

·       Ensure your intentions are explicitly spelled out to parents and carers. Consent must be established for this form of communication. Say what the purpose of electronic communicating will be and the methods to be used and what information will be shared.

·       Record your electronic communications as you would face-to-face communications. Keep email histories.

·       Don’t add children or vulnerable adults to personal sites or use personal instant messaging or social networking accounts.

·       Messenger and live chat facilities should not be employed, as a record cannot be kept. The same applies to Skype and other ‘video cam’ systems. Group work with clear aims and objectives might be an exception, but always record and make explicit the boundaries.

·       Any disclosures made should not be followed up via an electronic communication system. Always seek to meet face-to-face to further this type of work or pass on in line with the safeguarding policy.

·       Take very great care not to be misunderstood. Use clear language and avoid ‘text speak’ for example.

·       Use language that is professional and appropriate to the client group.

·       Communication should be kept between 9am and 5pm, where appropriate.

·       You will need to have someone responsible for setting up, managing and moderating the webpage or profile and communicating with those who use the site.

Good Practice Guidelines

·       Discuss the potential risk of online grooming and give people ‘permission’ to talk about it before anything happens.

·       If anyone has a concern, encourage the sharing of that concern and ask that messages and other evidence are kept. Encourage your participants to visit the CEOP site which has a simple facility for reporting worrying internet experiences, activities or content, as well as lots of useful tips and ideas (www.ceop.police.uk ).

·       Remind vulnerable adults and children that the internet is a public space, and that not everyone will be who they say they are.

·       Ensure any computer or device you make available to vulnerable adults and/or children has appropriate safety and age settings in place. Your internet provider will offer these services, and they are easy to install. Consider also the accessibility of any sites for people with disabilities.

·       Have oversight of any internet usage and ensure those who use the internet know that you will from time to time, check the ‘history’ on each machine (look at which sites have been visited). You need to act responsibly, and make these checks from time to time.

·       Make it clear that no one should give out personal information or details to people they do not know. ‘Tweeting’ and ‘Blogging’ are not private activities. Make sure that you do not inadvertently share private information about yourself or others.

·       Make sure you do not leave vulnerable people alone whist using internet sites, as unwise choices when navigating through the internet can sometimes expose people to upsetting information or images.

·       Only use a dedicated ‘work’ email address which is accessible to colleagues, when communicating with vulnerable adults or children in the course of your work. ‘Special’ relationships can be wrongly assumed, if the communication is private and/or outside of ‘office hours’. Therefore, also avoid texting or messaging at anti-social hours and times. Keep the tone ‘warm’ without becoming too familiar or informal.

·       Encourage users on your premises to set their online profiles to ‘private’ so that only friends and family can see them.

·       Always seek permission before taking photos/videos of adults or children (Data Protection Act 1998) and clarify that you have permission to upload them onto the internet in relation to specific images, locations or times. Do not fully identify any person specifically. Group photographs are preferable to pictures of individuals.

·       Cameras on mobile devices have become small and easily concealed; therefore, set rules for the use of such devices.

·       Ensure that all users of ‘church’ computers/devices with internet access complete a permissions form with appropriate signatures for adults/ carers.

·       Remember that your PCC will be responsible for all content contained within its website/forums/blogs/tweets or social networking areas maintained by them. Getting it wrong can be incredibly risky. Consider using the Truro Diocesan website as an interface for any activities where there is a need for email communication/blogging.
 

version 2019