Safeguarding is about preventing harm and abuse. And making a timely and appropriate response if it occurs.
Harm or abuse of children and adults at risk can happen anywhere – even in church communities. We have a duty to Ensure a Safe Church for All. This means protecting children and ‘adults at risk’.
The Church aims to minimise the risk of harm occurring. If harm or abuse does occur, with appropriate support and training, it will be recognised and reported. If it occurs we will work with the Police and Social Work services if appropriate.
The Church of Scotland’s Safeguarding Service and what it means to us.
The Church of Scotland has a zero tolerance approach to harm or abuse of people: any type or level is unacceptable. In practice, the following is a useful starting point for identifying harm or abuse: it is any conduct that you suspect or know is having, or could have, a significantly adverse effect on a person who is unable to protect themselves. Abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual and financial. It can also mean neglect. Anyone can cause harm. It can happen anywhere.
The Church of Scotland has had a Safeguarding Service since 1997. The Church of Scotland Safeguarding Service is part of a comprehensive safeguarding structure that includes over 3,000 trained safeguarding volunteers.
The Safeguarding Service aims to ensure best practice in preventing harm or abuse to children and ‘adults at risk’ and that the Church makes a timely and appropriate response when harm or abuse is witnessed, suspected or reported. This includes working with the police and social work services.
Each church has a Safeguarding Coordinator who manages the relevant clearance of any volunteer or paid person who may interact with a child (under 18) or an adult at risk (typically someone who has some type of care package in place).
The Coordinator will also be the first person you should contact if you suspect or witness harm or abuse or it is reported to you.
This position is currently held jointly by Anne Riddell and Bea Nicholson. If you would like to know any more about the service, please contact Anne, Bea or the minister in the first instance.
Each church will use the following Handbooks
Handbook 1 – What you need to know and do to protect children and adults at risk from harm and abuse
Handbook 2 – The safe recruitment, selection and management of volunteers and paid staff
Handbook 3 – Safeguarding training: What is available, who is it for, and how to access it
Handbook 4 – Safeguarding in practice
Handbook 5 – Managing those who pose a risk
Handbook 6 – Responding to domestic abuse
To be sure you are reading the most up-to-date versions of any documentation issued by the Church of Scotland, please check THIS LINK. Other useful documents can also be found on this page.
For the Church’s Law Department circulars follow THIS LINK