Managing Safeguarding Allegations Against
Staff & Volunteers
Statement of Safeguarding Principles
Key Roles & Responsibilities
Responding to a Safeguarding Concern or Allegation Against a Staff Member
Initial Assessment & Management of the Safeguarding Concern or Allegation
The Process to be Followed After the Statutory Agency or Internal Investigation Has Been Concluded
Risk Assessment Process
The Ongoing Risk Management Process
Events with church off the premises
Key concepts and definitions
Procedures for responding well to safeguarding incidents
Assessment of risk
Referring to statutory agencies
Recording Safeguarding Concerns
Caring for Survivors of Abuse
Helping recovery and responding well
Safeguarding and the internet
Responding to domestic abuse
Responding well to those who might pose a risk
Good practice for responding to child protection concerns
What to do if you suspect a child is at risk or has been abused
Good practice guidelines for church activities for children and young people
Definitions of abuse – Children
Definitions of abuse – Adults
Statement of Safeguarding Principles
Every person has a value and dignity which comes directly from the creation of humans in God’s own image and likeness. Christians see this potential as fulfilled by God’s re-creation of us in Christ. Among other things this implies a duty to value all people as bearing the image of God and therefore to protect them from harm.
Renewal Christian Centre is committed to the safeguarding and protection of all children, young people and adults and affirms that the needs of children or of people when they are vulnerable and at risk are paramount.
Renewal recognises that it has a particular care for adults who have care and support needs, whether by disabilities or by reduction in capacities or by their situation. It is recognised that this increased vulnerability may be temporary or permanent and may be visible or invisible, but that it does not diminish our humanity and seeks to affirm the gifts and graces of all God’s people.
This policy addresses the safeguarding of children, young people and adults with care and support needs across all locations of Renewal. It is intended to be a dynamic policy. It is intended to support the Church in being a safe, supportive and caring community for children, young people, adults needing care and support, for survivors of abuse, for communities and for those affected by abuse.
Renewal recognises the serious issue of the abuse of children and adults at risk of harm and recognises that this may take the form of physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, discriminatory, domestic or institutional abuse or neglect, abuse using social media or human trafficking (slavery). It acknowledges the effects these may have on people and their development, including spiritual and religious development. It accepts its responsibility for ensuring that all people are safe in its care and that their dignity and right to be heard is maintained. It accepts its responsibility to support, listen to and work for healing with survivors, offenders, communities and those who care about them. It takes seriously the issues of promotion of welfare so that each of us can reach our full potential in God’s grace.
The Managing Safeguarding Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers Guidance considers the situation when it is alleged that a member of staff or a volunteer who works with children, young people or adults with care and support needs has behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child, young person or adult with care and support needs (a vulnerable person), possibly committed a criminal offence against, or behaved in a way that indicates that he or she is unsuitable to work with vulnerable people.
This guidance applies to all employees, contractors, secondees into and out of Renewal, volunteers, students, trainees etc. For ease of reference, all employees and workers who fall under these groups will be uniformly referred to as “staff” in this document, and persons that concern has been raised against referred to as “the accused”.
The purpose of this guidance is to provide a framework for managing cases where allegations are made about staff at Renewal that indicate that children, young people or adults with care and support needs are believed to have suffered, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.
Concern may also be raised if the staff member is behaving in a way which demonstrates unsuitability for working with children, young people or adults with care and support needs in their present position, or in any capacity including their private life.
- Behaving in a way that has or may have harmed a child, young person, or adult with care and support needs
- Possibly committing a criminal offence against/related to a child, young person, or adult with care and support needs
- Behaving towards a child in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm to children/adults at risk
- Failing to work collaboratively with social care agencies when issues about care of a child, young person, or adult with care and support needs or whom they have caring responsibilities are being investigated.
- Behaving towards a child, young person, or adult with care and support needs, in a manner that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children, young people or adults with care and support needs. This includes unknown previous abuse.
- Where an allegation or concern arises about a member of staff, arising from their private life such as perpetration of domestic violence or where inadequate steps have been taken to protect vulnerable individuals from the impact of violence or abuse.
- Where an allegation of abuse is made against a person closely associated with a member of staff, who puts a child or adult at risk
There are four categories of Child abuse:
There are ten categories of abuse for adults:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation
- Psychological / Emotional Abuse
- Financial / material
- Domestic abuse
- Modern slavery
- Neglect and Acts of omission
Allegations that fall short of these may nevertheless amount to inappropriate conduct, in which case Renewal will need to consider whether to handle this by way of advice, supervision and training, to use disciplinary processes, or a combination of these.
Key Roles & Responsibilities
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, however the key roles within Renewal in assessing, managing allegations against staff and volunteers are:
- The Trustees
- The safeguarding committee
- The Senior Pastor
- The Safeguarding Officer
- The Core Group
- The Support Person
- The Link Person
- The Communications Director
Details of these key roles can be found in Appendix 1
Responding to a Safeguarding Concern or Allegation against a Staff Member
A. First Response: the person receiving a safeguarding concern or allegation against a member of staff
Following receipt of a safeguarding concern or allegation by anyone, including Location Safeguarding Representatives, the following process should be followed:
- As soon as is practicably possible and in any case within 24 hours of receiving a safeguarding concern or allegation of abuse against a member of staff refer the matter to the Safeguarding Officer.
- Respond well to the alleged victim/survivor to ensure they feel heard and that they have been taken seriously.
- Record the details of the concern or allegation. Always ask permission to do this and explain the importance of recording all information. Where it is not appropriate to take notes at the time, or permission is not given, make a written record as soon as possible afterwards or before the end of the day. Do not be selective. Include details that may seem irrelevant. This may prove invaluable at a later stage in an investigation. The alleged victim/survivor should be shown the record made in order to ensure they agree with the content and meaning, if possible. The record should include details of information provided to that person as well as information received. Record the time, date, location, persons present and how the concern or allegation was received, e.g. by telephone, face-to-face conversation, letter, etc. Use the clearest and least ambiguous language possible. Please always sign and date the record. If the alleged victim/survivor disagrees with the content of the note, any agreed changes can be made. If changes are not agreed (perhaps because they refer to additional matters that did not arise during the meeting) the person should be advised that their comments are noted and will be retained with the notes of the meeting.
- Pass all original records, including rough notes, immediately to the Safeguarding Officer. Any copies of retained records should be kept secure and confidential.
- Explain to the alleged victim/survivor what will happen next. They should be informed that their identity and the identity of the Accused will be shared with the statutory agencies. The concern or allegation should not be shared with anyone other than those who need to know (e.g. the statutory agencies and appropriate Church roles detailed in these procedures).
- The Safeguarding Officer will now take over the response to the case. There may also be a requirement to be involved in any subsequent core group.
B. Referring to statutory agencies
Within 24 hours of receiving notification of the concern or allegation the Safeguarding Officer will conduct an initial internal review of the information received to establish if the requirement for referring to the statutory agencies has been reached, i.e. a staff member or volunteer has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed the vulnerable person
- possibly committed a criminal offence against the vulnerable person children, or related to a child
- behaved in a way that indicated they may pose a risk of harm to a vulnerable person
In cases of emergency (and/or outside normal business hours), where a child, young person and/or vulnerable adult appears to be at immediate risk of harm, an urgent report must be made to the Local Authority. In addition, the police should be called dial 999 to ensure that no one is left in a dangerous situation pending intervention. This should be followed up in writing and a record made. This record should include the date the referral was sent, which agency it was referred to, by whom and any decision made in relation to the concern or allegation.
If there is any uncertainty about whether the safeguarding concern or allegation meets the requirement for referring, a consultation should take place between the Safeguarding Officer and the statutory agencies, who will advise on the eligibility of the referral.
In all cases, consideration should be given to whether an immediate referral is necessary to preserve and secure against the possibility of any loss, deterioration or destruction of forensic or other potential evidence.
The Safeguarding Officer should provide written confirmation to the person raising the concern or allegation that the information has been passed on to the statutory agencies. This confirmation should include the date the referral was sent, which agency it was referred to and by whom. If this cannot happen, an explanation should be recorded.
The Renewal Safeguarding Officer will work in close collaboration and co-operate with all agencies involved in the situation.
In making a referral to the Local Authority or the police, the following information should be provided as a minimum:
- Name of the person raising the concern or making the allegation;
- Nature of the concern or allegation;
- Name of the Accused;
- Accused’s staff member/volunteers position/role in Renewal at the time of the abuse
Wherever possible this would also normally include:
- Accurate identifying information of the alleged victim/survivor, as far as it is known. This should include the name, address and age of the alleged victim/survivor when the alleged abuse occurred;
- Where the person who has raised a concern or allegation is a child or young person, details of their parents/guardians should also be given;
- Dates when the concern arose, or when the incident occurred;
- The person’s own words used to describe the event or incident. Do not make assumptions about the intended meaning of the words used;
- Details of any action already taken about the concern or allegation.
Please note that these initial enquiries should be brief and not delay referral to the statutory agencies.
The Local Authority will provide directives for the case and hence Renewal should not act until it gets the directives from the Local Authority.
C. Notify the insurance company
It’s important that Renewal’s insurance company is notified in a timely manner in line with the requirements of the policy.
D. Responding to various individuals raising a safeguarding concern or allegation
Responding to an adult:
In the first instance, it is everyone’s responsibility to hear a safeguarding concern or allegation which should be passed to the Safeguarding Officer. Do not question beyond checking what has been said. It is the responsibility of social care and the police to investigate. There should be no probing for detail beyond what has been freely given.
Responding to a child or young person:
Do not re-interview, carry out an investigation or instigate a meeting to receive an allegation or take a statement from the child or young person – that is the role of children’s social care and/or the police. It is good practice in this situation, if possible, to have another adult present for the protection of the child or young person and yourself against allegations and to ensure corroboration of any account provided.
Responding to an anonymous concern/allegation:
Anonymous complaints are to be handled carefully. However, if any identifiable information that relates to a safeguarding concern or allegation (current or non-current) is received, it must be passed onto the Safeguarding Officer, who will refer to the appropriate statutory agencies so an investigation can be undertaken to assess the risks, as required.
Responding to someone who admits to abusing a child, young person or adult at risk:
Any admission to abusing a vulnerable person must be referred to the Safeguarding Officer, who will refer to the appropriate statutory agencies so an investigation can be undertaken to assess the risks, as required.
E. Information sharing
All information regarding safeguarding concerns or allegations (current or non-current) should be shared with the statutory agencies, in the interest of the person.
The provision of information to the statutory agencies for the protection of a person, where the safety of others may be at risk will not be a breach of confidentiality or data protection legislation, (even where sharing without consent).
During an investigation, if the Police request information from a file, every effort should be made to cooperate. The request however should be in writing using their standard forms.
There will be occasions when information sharing between Church bodies or with another organisation that employs the Accused either in a paid or voluntary capacity is required. As each of these situations is unique, the decision whether and what to share with another Church body will be on a case-by-case basis. Renewal would need to consider for example whether the recipient has a legitimate interest in receiving this information and the justification for sharing information. Moreover, the principles of the relevant data protection legislation should be considered when deciding whether to share information.
Individuals may not give their consent to the sharing of information for a number of reasons. For example, they may be frightened; they may fear losing control; they may not trust social services or the police or they may fear that their relationship with the Accused will be damaged. Reassurance and appropriate support along with gentle persuasion may help to change their view on whether it is best to share information.
It is very important that the risk of sharing information is also considered. In some cases, such as domestic violence and abuse, it is possible that sharing information could increase the risk to the individual.
If a person cannot be persuaded to share information about him/her with relevant others (e.g. local authority/police), his/her wishes, in the first instance, should be respected. However, there are certain situations where this refusal can reasonably be overridden, including, for instance, other people are, or may be, at risk of harm, or where the representative of the alleged victim/survivor who lacks the mental capacity (under the Mental Capacity Act 2005) makes that decision on their behalf, etc. The principle of necessity and proportionality should underpin decisions about sharing information without consent.
Initial Assessment & Management of the Safeguarding Concern or Allegation
A. Core Group
For every allegation against a staff member or volunteer the Safeguarding Officer, in consultation with the Senior Pastor should convene a core group, within 48 hours of becoming aware of the safeguarding concern or allegation.
The Core Group is to be made up of representations of the Safeguarding Committee, the Safeguarding Officer, a Location representative (if appropriate), and an appropriate safeguarding specialist eg. mental health, domestic abuse, children’s etc.
If anyone carrying out these roles is the subject of the allegation or has any conflict of interest or loyalty such as: personally, knowing the Accused and/or the alleged victim/survivor; is witness in the investigation; are pastorally supporting the Accused and/or the alleged victim/survivor, they should not be included in the core group.
The Senior Pastor must not be a member of the group, nor attend meetings of the core group, in order not to compromise potential decisions about disciplinary matters which rest with the Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastor is to be advised on decisions that he needs to take e.g. in relation to suspension or disciplinary issues, appointing a link person, ensuring a support person for the alleged victim/survivor is offered by the Safeguarding Officer.
The Local Authority will provide directives for the core group; the core group should therefore refrain from acting until it gets the directives from the Local Authority.
If there are ongoing statutory investigations the core group will be informed by the recommendations from the statutory agencies
If the Local Authority confirms that it does not need to be involved in a case, Renewal should conduct its own investigation. The core group should establish a process for this to gather information and make an assessment on the facts. This convened core group will manage the process for the duration of the case, and will meet as required.
Minutes of the core group meetings must be kept and securely stored. Records of all telephone calls, emails and meetings outside of the core group meetings, and all involvement of statutory agencies should be sent to the Safeguarding Officer for secure storage.
B. The statutory agencies
Statutory agencies have responsibility to ensure communication and co-ordination between agencies, which may include the police, health services, education, adults and children’s social care and/or an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser. This may take the form of Multi-Agency Strategy Meetings, Allegation Management Meetings, Child or Adult Protection Conferences or Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub Meetings, to which the Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer and other relevant members of the core group should expect to be invited.
It is vital Church representatives are included in such meetings, for the purposes of sharing information relevant to the case, and being party to the decision-making process regarding investigation and risk.
The outcomes and recommendations from multi-agency meetings will inform Renewal’s internal management of the safeguarding concern or allegation.
C. Internal church investigation
Whereas investigation of harm will be investigated by statutory agencies, internal investigations will be undertaken in respect of disciplinary matters with regard to the individual. Furthermore, if statutory agencies do not investigate abuse, Renewal’s internal investigation of the incident would be via the appropriate procedures, i.e. staff disciplinary or complaints procedures. Actions against a person in a position of trust would be with regard to whether they should continue in trust role.
D. Informing the accused
The statutory agencies, where involved, will inform the Safeguarding Officer about when they can tell the Accused that an allegation has been made. However, it may be that the statutory agencies themselves inform the Accused as part of their own investigative practices i.e. where an arrest is necessary.
Where the statutory agencies are not involved, the core group will determine when and what the Accused should be told in relation to the concern or allegation.
The Accused should be offered the services of a link person who may accompany them to the meeting; they may however prefer to be accompanied by someone else of their choice, but not a legal representative. The role of the supporter is not to be an advocate but is to listen, so they can talk through what was said with the Accused afterwards.
At the meeting the Accused should be informed they have the right to obtain legal advice with regards to the allegation, they should immediately be advised of their right not to reply at this stage, and should be given enough detail about the concern or allegation to be able to offer a response, if they choose to do so. At this stage, the identity of the person raising the concern or making the allegation should not be disclosed if they are different from the victim/survivor. If a written statement has been given by the person raising the concern or making the allegation, this cannot be given to the Accused, but a summary of its content can be shared.
If notified by the statutory authorities, that the Accused is a safeguarding risk could consider suspension of the Accused from their role at Renewal. It should be emphasised suspension is an entirely neutral act and is a precautionary to ensure cases can be investigated in a dispassionate manner and to protect all parties involved
Following an initial assessment of risk, the Accused should be offered independent pastoral support and the opportunity to worship under an Interim Safeguarding Agreement.
The police or Local Authority will generally take the lead regarding any media coverage. Renewal should not give statements about the facts of the case to the media and others until after the investigation or any subsequent trial is completed without the approval of the police/local authority, and these responses should be minimal in order to protect all parties and ensure any investigation is not compromised and impartiality maintained.
These situations always require sensitive pastoral care together with the wider congregation and community. This will include overseeing appropriate communications of the situation to the congregation.
F. Support to others affected by safeguarding concerns or allegations
There are many groups who could be affected by the suspension which could include:
- alleged victims/survivors and their families;
- the Accused’s family and friends;
- The Ministry team the individual was involved in
- The wider church
During the period of investigation, which may last for many months, the information that can be shared with others will be limited.
Renewal must take the initiative in this situation in reaching out to, rather than retreating from, these groups and it should provide opportunities for them to air their fears, concerns and obtain certain information they need.
Where information is shared a record should be made of who the information went to, how and why. Records should also be kept when a decision is made not to share information and the reasons why.
It is important that all parties do not communicate with each other about the allegation so that evidence is not contaminated.
The Process to be Followed after the Statutory Agency or Internal Investigation Has Concluded
A. Summary investigation report
Following the conclusion of the statutory process or the internal Church investigation, the Safeguarding Officer will prepare a summary report which will include a clear statement, in their opinion, on whether the Safeguarding Officer believes the case is substantiated or unsubstantiated, unfounded, malicious or false and/or whether there are ongoing safeguarding concerns.
There are three possible outcomes:
- The initial investigation finds the concern or allegation was unsubstantiated and there are no ongoing safeguarding concerns.
- The initial investigation finds the concern or allegation was unsubstantiated but there are ongoing safeguarding concerns a risk assessment should be undertaken.
- The initial investigation finds the concern or allegation to be substantiated a risk assessment should be undertaken.
B. Concern or allegation was unsubstantiated
Where the initial investigation finds the concern or allegation was unsubstantiated and there are no ongoing safeguarding concerns the Safeguarding Officer should recommend that the Accused should return to work/volunteering. In this case the individual should be offered counselling and support to assist them to deal with any residual anger/distress and provided with support for an agreed period after the return to work/volunteering.
C. Allegation is substantiated and/or there are ongoing safeguarding concerns
Where the concern or allegation is substantiated and/or there are ongoing safeguarding concerns a decision must be made in liaison with the statutory agencies (if applicable), as to where the responsibility for safeguarding in relation to the Accused lies. Where there is a case manager within the statutory agencies, the Safeguarding Officer will try and obtain a copy of their risk assessment and work in partnership with them to ensure the risk can be managed.
The Accused is to be given a copy of the report (however, if giving the final assessment report to the Accused will disclose to him or her information about another person which should not be disclosed without that other person’s consent and that other person has not consented, the Accused must be given the report in a redacted form, and a written explanation of the reasons for giving the report in that form).
Where a copy of the statutory agency risk assessment is unable to be obtained or where there is no statutory involvement Renewal will commission a risk assessment to inform any ongoing risk management required.
However, regardless of where the responsibility for safeguarding lies, where a statutory or multi-agency meeting makes a formal recommendation for action, there are implications for insurance if that recommendation is not acted upon.
Risk Assessment Process
A. Risk assessment
When a concern or allegation has been made and this has been substantiated and/or there are safeguarding concerns, a risk assessment is required to predict future risk and inform an Ongoing Safeguarding Agreement.
There are several different situations in which Renewal may require an assessment of the future risk posed to children, young people and/or vulnerable adults. Some examples are:
- Convicted offenders;
- Those acquitted of a charge of abuse where concerns about risk remain;
- Someone charged with an offence where charges are not subsequently pursued;
- Someone investigated by a statutory authority but subsequently not pursued;
- A concern or allegation which has not met the requirement for reporting to the statutory agencies and is being managed as an internal investigation.
An Independent risk assessment should be carried out for all Pastors, Elders, or Trustees. The independent assessor should be drawn from professionals or agencies with proven qualifications and experience in the field of risk assessment.
The Core Group should be given a copy of the final written assessment report. The core group must consult with the employer/supervisor for decisions on long term action to be taken. The Safeguarding Officer or employer/supervisor will then invite the Accused to a meeting to discuss the opinions and recommendations contained within the assessment and any action which is proposed in response.
B. Response to victims or survivors
If they choose to be, the victim/survivor must be kept up-to-date about decisions relating to their concern or allegation throughout the whole process. That victims and/or survivors concerns or allegations are being taken seriously is essential in maintaining the credibility of the process.
Survivors should be consulted about what they would like to see done in relation to the Accused. Wherever possible, their wishes should be acted upon.
A formal apology should not generally be considered until any statutory investigation is concluded (or after criminal proceedings have finished). At this point, except where the allegation is deemed by police or the Strategy Meeting to be unfounded or malicious, the Safeguarding Officer on advice of the core group, should advise the Senior Pastor as to whether an apology to the victim or survivor is appropriate and if so, who should apologise on behalf of Renewal. The Trustees must agree the content of the letter before the apology is discussed with the relevant insurer.
In most situations, the Senior Pastor should write to the survivor, offering a full apology for what occurred, and offering to meet with the survivor to hear their concerns and answer any ongoing questions they have. This meeting should be at a time and location to suit the survivor.
If a claim is made by the survivor for the payment of compensation this should be discussed with the relevant insurer. If there is no formal claim for compensation, the offer of provision of funds for treatment costs may be considered on a case by case basis after having consulted the relevant insurer and the Trustees. The duration of this funding cannot be open-ended, but should be discussed with the survivor and their therapist or counsellor.
The Ongoing Risk Management Process
A. Establishing the responsibility for management of the risks
Upon receiving the risk assessment, a decision must be made by the Safeguarding Officer with the statutory agencies, as to where the responsibility for the management of risk lies.
- If the Accused’s case is being managed by a statutory agency the Safeguarding Officer will work in partnership with it to ensure the Renewal context is considered within any Safeguarding Agreement and appropriate steps are taken to ensure disciplinary action
- If Renewal is responsible for managing the case, an Ongoing Safeguarding Agreement is created, including the provision of monitoring and appropriate steps to ensure disciplinary action.
B. Monitoring and ongoing safeguarding agreements
In circumstances where a decision has been made to allow the Accused to return to work at Renewal an Ongoing Safeguarding Agreement should be completed following the final risk assessment report being received. The content of the agreement should follow on and take account of the recommendations within the risk assessment. All Ongoing Safeguarding Agreements should be proportionate to the level of risk identified. Agreements must always consider risk to specific victims/survivors, where relevant.
Ongoing Safeguarding Agreements should be completed in a timely fashion for the needs of the case, and the level and nature of risks identified. The agreement should be clear and specific, appropriate to the circumstances of the case, be precise about roles and responsibilities for delivery and where indicated by the circumstances of the case agencies should work together to manage the risks identified.
The person appointed to monitor the agreement should be best placed to do so considering the Accused’s role.
The services of a link person should be available to the Accused throughout the entire process, should the Accused so wish. The link person will provide a vital service in ensuring that the support needs of the Accused are heard and met during this time.
C. Disciplinary processes following an investigation
Consideration of disciplinary processes should be made after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings. Renewal’s disciplinary procedures should be followed for paid employees. For volunteers, the volunteering policy containing the disciplinary arrangements may be followed, and the services of the volunteer may be discontinued.
D. Referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) places a duty on organisations to make a referral to the DBS when an organisation has dismissed or removed a person from working/volunteering with children, young people and/or adults at risk in regulated activity (or would or may have removed such a person if the person had not left or resigned etc.) because the person has:
- Been cautioned or convicted of a relevant offence (e.g. a serious sexual or violent offence); or
- Engaged in relevant conduct in relation to children, young people and/or vulnerable adults, (i.e. an action or inaction (neglect) that has harmed a child, young person or vulnerable adult or put them at risk of harm as defined under the SVGA); or
- Satisfied the harm test in relation to children, young people and/or vulnerable adults, (i.e. there has been no relevant conduct (i.e. no action or inaction) but a risk of harm to a child, young person or adult still exists as defined under the SVGA).
If the staff member resigns prior to the conclusion of a disciplinary process, the process should be concluded with or without their involvement and a decision to either re-instate or dismiss should still be made, recorded and referred to the DBS for consideration if dismissal or withdrawal from duties is the outcome.
Where a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service is being considered advice should be sought from the Local Authority.
An investigation may result in various actions. It may be shown that the person has no case to answer or they may be charged with an offence and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) asked to consider prosecution. The Accused may admit the truth of the allegation and accept a police caution.
In order for the CPS to sanction a prosecution they must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. If it appears likely or is known that criminal proceedings will be brought then disciplinary action other than suspension is normally stayed until the conclusion of those proceedings. Consideration must be given to protecting the interests of victims where there is a risk of contact through church activities.
Requests to produce file material in court should be referred to Renewal’s legal representative to avoid inappropriate disclosure of personal information which may be protected by the Data Protection Act 1998.
Renewal should not provide a character reference in criminal matters. They should also avoid commenting on matters under investigation unless invited by the investigating officer/team at a formal meeting or in a confidential discussion with the Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer. They should restrict themselves to known facts and firsthand knowledge.
The statutory agencies undertaking the investigation should be asked to provide a report which can be used in disciplinary proceedings, for other decision-making or for future reference. The report, which should be agreed with their legal advisers, should include any statements which parties have agreed can be used for this purpose, a factual account of the investigation and an assessment of any continuing risk. It is helpful if Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer can agree the terms of the report at the beginning of the investigation. There are many reasons why a particular case may not come to court, or why there may be a finding of ‘not guilty’ in a criminal court case, however this does not mean there is no remaining concern. There may remain evidence of inappropriate or misguided behaviour which needs to be addressed. The advice of the statutory agencies should be sought about any continuing risk to children. It may still be appropriate in some circumstances and in accordance with legal advice to continue disciplinary action. If there remain unresolved matters of concern, a professional risk assessment should be carried out to try to ascertain whether it is safe for the person to continue work which brings them into contact with children. Depending on the outcome of the assessment it may be necessary to introduce a regime of conditions, training and supervision, to refer the person to the Independent Safeguarding Authority, to re-deploy the person in another post, or to terminate employment.
Risk Assessment and Management of Those that May Pose a Known Risk to Children, Young People or Adults at Risk
A. Open doors
Based on the message of the gospel, Renewal opens its doors to all. This means that there are likely to be those with criminal convictions for sexual and/or violent offences and other forms of abuse, as well as others who may pose a risk, attending the church. Some of these individuals may pose an ongoing or potential risk of harm to other individuals who attend the church.
The Church has a duty to minister to all, which imposes a particular responsibility to ensure that everyone who attends the Church is safe. This includes not only victims/survivors of abuse offences but all individuals who come to church. This means that it will include those people who have convictions. All people must be considered equally to ensure everyone is safe, no matter what their background.
Where a known sexual/violent offender is not only monitored but befriended, helped and supported by a group of volunteers to lead a fulfilled life without direct contact with children, young people or adults with care and support needs, the chances of reoffending are diminished. Indeed, there is no doubt that the church has an important role contributing to the prevention of future abuse.
Where people have convictions, which give rise to a safeguarding concern, their position in the Church may need to be carefully and sensitively considered/assessed to decide whether they pose a risk to others and to put in place arrangements to ensure that these risks are mitigated. This may include people convicted of violent or sexual offences against children, young people and/or vulnerable adults. It may also include those convicted of offences linked to domestic violence/abuse and people involved in drug or alcohol addiction. In addition, there may be those who do not have convictions or cautions but where there are sound reasons for considering that they still might present a risk to others.
B. Assessing and managing risk
Any person who may present a potential known risk to a vulnerable group (e.g. because they are an offender of a sexual/violent offence) and who is seeking to be a member or a Partner at Renewal must have a risk assessment. An appropriate plan to manage the identified risks must be put in place using an Ongoing Safeguarding Agreement.
The Safeguarding Officer will determine the appropriate action to be taken to best safeguard the church community, based on the particular facts and circumstances of each case.
Once notified and wherever possible, the Safeguarding Officer should obtain a copy of the statutory agency risk assessment and use this to draft the Safeguarding Agreement and to manage the risk that the Offender’s attendance at church presents. Where it is not possible to access a statutory agency’s risk assessment, a standard risk assessment should be completed by the Safeguarding Officer followed by a Safeguarding Agreement in consultation with the Offender.
If the Offender’s victim/survivor and/or the victim’s/survivor’s family, attends the church, it may be necessary to attend a different service, if sufficient arrangements were put in place or introduce the Offender to another Renewal Location or a different church. Consideration must also be given to other people who attend the church and have been abused.
The Offender should not accept any official role or office in the church which gives him or her status or authority.
C. Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
The current MAPPA guidance (2012, amended 2016) does not give any direction to the management of offenders in church settings. However, in the previous guidance in 2009 it stated that religious communities must put in place effective management of MAPPA offenders that allows for the protection of their community while allowing a sex offender to maintain his or her right to worship in a safe way when possible.
A. Record-keeping in the context of allegations
It is important that employers keep a clear and comprehensive summary of any concerns or allegations made, details of how the concerns or allegations were followed up and resolved, and of any action taken, whether by the Church or by statutory agencies, and decisions reached.
These should be kept in a person’s confidential personnel file and a copy should be given to the individual, apart from third party information for which permission for disclosure has not been given. Such information should be retained on file in line with data retention rules. It will provide clarification in cases where a future DBS disclosure reveals information from the police that an allegation was made but did not result in a prosecution or a conviction. It will also prevent unnecessary re-investigation if, as sometimes happens, concerns or allegations resurface after a period of time.
It is as important to retain records where a concern or allegation is proved to be unfounded, malicious or unsubstantiated as in other cases, so that it is on record that the allegation was known and responded to.
B. Resignations and compromise agreements
The fact that a person tenders their resignation, or ceases to provide their services, must not prevent a concern or allegation being followed up. It is important that every effort is made to reach a conclusion in all cases of concerns or allegations bearing on the safety or welfare of children, young people and/or vulnerable adults, including any in which the Accused refuses to co-operate with the process. Wherever possible, the Accused should be given a full opportunity to answer the concern or allegation and make representations about it. The process of recording the concern or allegation and any supporting evidence, and reaching a judgement about whether it can be regarded as substantiated on the basis of all the information available, should continue even if the concern or allegation cannot be substantiated or the Accused does not co-operate. It may be difficult to reach a conclusion in those circumstances, and it may not be possible to apply any disciplinary sanctions if an Accused person’s period of notice expires before the process is complete, but it is important to reach and record a conclusion wherever possible.
By the same token, so-called ‘compromise agreements’ – by which the Accused agrees to resign, the employer agrees not to pursue disciplinary action, and both parties agree a form of words to be used in any future reference must not be used in safeguarding cases.
C. Notifications and referrals to other to external bodies
Notification to the Charity Commission:
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales and has a responsibility to investigate mismanagement or misconduct in the administration of a charity. Safeguarding allegations involving allegations of abuse against children or adults with care and support needs that are alleged to have occurred in a local church must be reported to the Charity Commission.
A serious incident report is to be sent to the Charity Commission by or on behalf of the trustees to inform the Commission about an incident or suspected incident that could have a significant risk to the assets, reputation or to the beneficiaries. Details on what to include in the serious incident report can be obtained from the Charity Commission.
Please note that the Charity Commission is a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. There is a possibility that it may have to disclose a report or documents to a third party. There is likely to be a need in most cases involving safeguarding allegations to preserve confidentiality. To try to preserve confidentiality, Renewal should redact the names of individuals in any documents that are sent to the Commission and/or not disclose names at all in a report or anonymise names by using initials only or use more generic labels, if appropriate, such as “a child” to protect identity.
All serious incident reports (SIR) should usually contain the following wording:
“Note – this Serious Incident Report, and the information contained in it, is strictly confidential and is disclosed to the Commission in confidence. Please contact us to consult with us before disclosing any information relating to this SIR to any third party, whether under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 or otherwise.”
Notifying other churches and community organisations:
Other churches or those from other community organisations may need to be informed of concerns where the Accused has involvement with another organisation. The nature of the person’s involvement at the current time should be established before disclosing information.
D. Lessons learnt case reviews
Once all matters relating to the safeguarding concern or allegation against a member of staff have been completed, the core group should consider how best to identify and learn lessons from the case. The majority of lessons learnt case reviews will be an internal review undertaken by the core group and its members, and where appropriate, comments on the process should be requested from victims/survivors and the accused. It is for the core group to determine how best to undertake this review.
The outcome of the case review process should be shared with the Board of Trustees. This should be done in an anonymised form and given sufficient details of the processes followed to assess whether practice guidance has been adhered to, to consider what lessons can be learnt and whether any changes should be made to Renewal safeguarding policy and practice guidance.
In some cases, it will be appropriate to undertake an independent review. All independent reviews should be shared with the board of Trustees.
In considering whether to undertake an independent case review, the core group and the identified officers above should consider whether:
- A child, young person and/or adult at risk has been seriously harmed and there is serious cause for concern as to the way in which the Church or other relevant persons have worked together to safeguard the child, young person and/or vulnerable adult; and/or
- There are particularly challenging or complex circumstances, for instance an indication that organised abuse may have taken place.
- A recommendation by the Local Safeguarding Children or Adult Board.
- Reasonable complaints about process have been raised.
Appendix 1: Roles and Responsibilities of Safeguarding Personnel in Relation to Responding to, Assessing and Managing Safeguarding Concerns or Allegations
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility; it is essential to flourishing Christian communities and evidenced through good pastoral care. In the first instance, it is everyone’s responsibility to hear a safeguarding concern or allegation.
Role of Trustees
The Charity Commission expects all trustees to make sure their charity:
- Has appropriate policies and procedures in place, which are followed by all trustees, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries
- Checks that people are suitable to act in their roles
- Knows how to spot and handle concerns in a full and open manner
- Has a clear system of referring or reporting to relevant organisations as soon as concerns are suspected or identified?
- Sets out risks and how they will be managed in a risk register which is regularly reviewed
- Follows statutory guidance, good practice guidance and legislation relevant to their charity
- Is quick to respond to concerns and carry out appropriate investigations
- Does not ignore harm or downplay failures
- Has a balanced trustee board and does not let one trustee dominate its work – trustees should work together
- Makes sure protecting people from harm is central to its culture
- Has enough resources, including trained staff/volunteers/trustees for safeguarding and protecting people
- Conducts periodic reviews of safeguarding policies, procedures and practice.
In addition, at Renewal Trustees will be responsible for:
- Signing off all internal and external case reviews and their action plans
- Agreeing the content of any letter of apology
- Where there is no formal claim for compensation, the offer of provision of funds for treatment costs may be considered in a case to case basis by the Trustees, after having consulted the relevant insurer
- Sending a serious incident report to the Charity Commission by or on behalf of the trustees to inform the Commission
- Approving the annual safeguarding audit
Role of Safeguarding Committee
The Safeguarding Committee will:
- Be advised of all safeguarding concerns or allegations and investigations
- Ensure that at least one representative from the Safeguarding Committee is on the core group for each case
- Offer advice and support
- Seek external specialist advice, as required in complex cases
- Monitor risk assessment and management to measure quality and adherence to national guidance.
Role of the Senior Pastor
- To report any concerns or allegations against a member of staff or volunteer to Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer immediately when any disclosure or information is received or known
- To remain distant from the process, in case of needs for intervention in the event of disciplinary action, claims made against Renewal, or pastoral breakdown. The information he/she receive must be such that it does not compromise any future role he/she must play;
- To allocate a member of the Pastoral team to support the alleged victim, following consultation with the individual.
- To ensure that all appropriate support and information is offered to the victim/survivor and, as required, to their families and ensure that all appropriate support and information is offered to the Accused (including spiritual guidance and pastoral support) and, as required, to their families.
- To ensure that, where appropriate, the Accused is suspended and or that disciplinary action is taken against the Accused.
Role of Safeguarding Officer
Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer is responsible for:
- Receiving safeguarding concerns and allegations;
- Referring safeguarding concerns and allegations to statutory agencies where the requirement for reporting is met;
- Instigating all internal enquiries and liaising with statutory agencies – e.g. police and social care teams;
- Attending meetings as requested by the statutory agencies;
- Preparing reports as required eg for statutory agencies, any other safeguarding personnel.
- Sharing information with statutory agencies in relation to the concern or allegation, or any other assessment process concerning the Accused and their family;
- Completing the Internal Church Investigation where one is required
- Keeping a complete safeguarding record, and to be the source of all safeguarding information for Renewal. Records need to be stored appropriately and
- Maintaining ongoing contact with all members of the core group outside of meetings.
- Ensuring the victim/survivor is offered support from a member of the Pastoral team. Where they accept this offer, ensuring that the needs of the victim/survivor are fully recognised and acknowledged throughout the safeguarding process, as set out in this guidance;
- Ensuring information regarding contact with the victim/survivor is recorded and stored appropriately in the case file;
- Keeping the Senior Pastor updated regarding the risk assessment process and liaising with the link person to ensure support, advice and pastoral care is offered to the Accused.
- Ensuring appropriate and independent support, advice and pastoral care is offered to the link person;
- Liaising regularly with both the link person and support person;
- Ensuring that the voice of both the alleged victim/survivor and the Accused is heard throughout the process;
- Either carrying out risk assessments or making the arrangements for it to be carried out;
- Reviewing Safeguarding Agreements at regular intervals (depending on the assessed needs and the level of risk) in conjunction with other key people involved and/or the statutory agencies;
The Safeguarding Lead is NOT a support person to the victim/survivor, nor are they a link person for the Accused.
Role of the support person (for alleged victims/survivors of abuse)
The support person is likely to be a member of the Pastoral team. A support person will be offered to all alleged victims/survivors of abuse and, where appropriate, their family.
No-one directly involved in the management of the case, or who may be required to give evidence in any court proceedings, should be directly supporting the victim/survivor, since their roles or their status may be compromised.
Alleged Victims/survivors who are children or young people may require specialist support; under advice from Children’s Services, the child or young person should be referred to a professional agency qualified to provide such support.
The particular role the support person plays must be agreed in consultation with the victim/survivor.
The support person, provided the victim/survivor agrees, could be responsible for the following matters:
- Liaising (which could include attending any meetings) with the statutory agencies to provide support to the alleged victim/survivor, the support person is not the alleged victim/survivors advocate at any meeting they attend;
- Listening to and representing the victim/survivor’s pastoral needs;
- Identifying any therapeutic or other needs the victim/survivor may have, and offering choices as how these may be best met;
- Listening to and representing the victim/survivor’s views during the management of the safeguarding concern or allegation;
- Recording any meetings or contact they have with the victim/survivor and passing on relevant information (e.g. to prevent/protect others from harm, any further information supplied in relation to the safeguarding concern or allegation) to Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer, this should be made clear from the outset of the relationship. Records of meetings would include dates, times, locations and an overview of the meeting rather than a specific and detailed account.
Where the victim/survivor accepts the offer of a support person a written description of the support person’s agreed role and responsibilities should be provided to the victim/survivor at the commencement of such an arrangement. This may be a copy of the role as described in this guidance, or may be a specifically written description based upon what is agreed between the victim/survivor and the support person.
The support person will not be responsible for managing the case and will pass on written records to Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer.
The support person is NOT the confidant of the victim/survivor. They must be bound by a responsibility to disclose to the appropriate authorities (e.g. the Police, Safeguarding Officer etc.) where others are at risk of harm, the victim/survivor makes disclosures of intentions to hurt themselves, or safeguarding information is shared to assist in the prevention, detection or prosecution of a crime.
It is important to recognise and acknowledge that where others may still be at risk, the police (and possibly Children’s or Adult’s Services or the Local Authority) will need to be informed.
The support person will NOT attend core group meetings.
Role of link person (support for the accused)
A link person will be offered to all Accused who are staff or volunteers are Renewal.
The link person may be a member of the Pastoral team or an Elder (where the Accused is in ministry). No-one directly involved in the management of the case, or who may be required to give evidence in any court proceedings, should be directly supporting the Accused, since their roles or their status may be compromised.
If the Accused is a child or young person, they should be referred to a professional agency qualified to provide such support.
A link person should be particularly alert to the sense of isolation and vulnerability which the Accused may experience.
The link person is responsible for, after agreement with the Accused
- Attending the initial meeting with the Accused, the Safeguarding Officer, keep them informed of the progress of their case, and direct them to counselling and support as necessary;
- Assisting the Accused to access advice in relation to both criminal and ecclesiastical law;
- Considering the Accused’s family’s wishes (when not the victim/survivor) regarding a pastoral response by Renewal to them;
- Identifying with the Accused any therapeutic or other needs they have, and offering choices as to how these may be best met;
- Monitoring compliance with Safeguarding Agreements if this is an agreed part of their role (see section 6.1);
- Recording any meetings or contact they have with the Accused and passing on relevant information to the Safeguarding Officer as appropriate, this should be made clear from the outset of the relationship. They will not be responsible for managing the file but will pass on written records to the Safeguarding Officer as appropriate, during regular meetings with them. Records of meetings would include dates, times, locations and an overview of the meeting rather than a specific and detailed account.
The link person is NOT the confidant of the Accused. They must be bound by a professional responsibility to disclose to the appropriate authorities, e.g. the police, where:
- Others are at risk of harm;
- The Accused makes disclosures of intentions to hurt or harm either themselves or others;
- The Accused makes disclosures of their guilt, or not, in the matter being investigated;
- Safeguarding information is shared to assist in the prevention, detection or prosecution of a crime.
It is important to recognise and acknowledge that where others may still be at risk, the police (and possibly Children’s or Adult’s Services or the Local Authority) will need to be informed.
Role of Director of Communication
The Director of Media & Communication is responsible for advising on all matters of communication, including statements for potential or actual media coverage, statements made to the congregation, limits of information sharing in consultation with the Senior Pastor and Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer during and following an investigation, and advising the Senior Pastor on the appropriate wording in relation to any proposed apology to the victim/survivor as agreed by the Trustees.
Appendix: Template Safeguarding Agreement
This is template agreement only; it should be adapted to suit the needs of individual cases.
Using the information from the Risk Assessment and Case Summary, a Safeguarding Agreement is drawn up to address the risks that have been identified; to safeguard children, young people and/or vulnerable adults; detail the restrictions that have been put in place and also provide support for the Offender.
Example ongoing safeguarding agreement
This agreement is between Renewal Christian Centre, and
|Role in Church
|Contact details (tel/email)
Information and confidentiality
The following people have been made aware of the contents of this agreement, and will act as the ‘reference group’ in supporting (Accused) and in helping to ensure that the agreement is complied with and reviewed at regular intervals:
These people are bound by confidentiality not to discuss the content of this agreement, details of the Accused, or of the allegation with anyone outside of this ‘reference group’ unless there is a legal requirement to do so or there is evidence or reasonable cause to believe that a person (child, young person or adult with care and support needs) is at risk of suffering harm or to prevent harm to a person (child, young person or adult with care and support needs).
In addition, the following people have received a copy of this agreement:
(National Probation Service – NPS)
(Renewal’s Safeguarding Officer)
Renewal may contact statutory agencies (Police, NPS/CRC, Children or Adult Services) for advice or information, and will share any concerns or information concerning (Offender) thought to be relevant.
Please note these are examples of what might be included, this is not a definitive list and includes examples which might relate to the specific conditions imposed under statutory supervision processes as well as examples of what Renewal may impose as expected parameters of conduct. The conditions and the wording of the conditions are individual to each case.
This written agreement sets out the parameters of the expected conduct which have been established to ensure the on-going safeguarding of children, young people and/or adults with care and support needs.
The above-named person of this agreement will:
- not seek out or engage with children or young people under the age of 18 years either individually or in groups, in Renewal or before or after the services, or make any contact with children or young people outside of Renewal;
- avoid being alone with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults (delete as appropriate) and take responsibility for behaving appropriately and removing themselves immediately from any situations unforeseen or otherwise where this position may be compromised;
- not attend any other events at Renewal, including social functions, or accept invitations to homes of people with children or young people under 18 years or the homes of vulnerable adults, without the express permission in advance of
- not accept any positions of authority or responsibility or duties of any kind in Renewal, nor any work, paid or voluntary, with children or young people under 18 years/vulnerable adults;
- inform the Safeguarding Lead Officer / link person if you are planning to attend another Church and of any time planned or unplanned where there will be cause to stay overnight away from this address.
has been asked to act as your link person. Their role is to:
- Keep you informed of the process of the case;
- Help direct you to counselling and support;
- Record the dates and times that they have met or been in contact with you. They will report this to the Safeguarding Officer. Should any safeguarding concern(s) arise during the meetings you have with the link person, the link person will report the concern(s) to the Safeguarding Officer.
The Link Person will not:
- Act as your counsellor
- Act as your Spiritual Guide
- Manage or have access to your case file
- Act as your advocate
I, (Accused) accept/decline (delete as appropriate) the support of the link person.
Frequency of monitoring contacts
Consultation with statutory agencies
Review of agreement
This agreement will be reviewed by members of the Safeguarding Committee, in consultation with the social services and the police, at regular intervals, at least annually.
If this agreement is broken, Renewal in consultation with the local authority and the police, will make decisions about the Accused’s further involvement in Renewal.
In the event of moving to another Church, Renewal will endeavour to pass information about them and the safeguarding action which has been taken to the new Church.
Signed and dated Offender ___________________________________
Signed and dated Senior Pastor ________________________________
Signed and dated Safeguarding Officer _____________________________