1. What is the role of the PSO?
The Parish Safeguarding Officer is the key link between the diocese and the parish concerning safeguarding matters. The role can be taken by one person or can be shared, for example with one person covering children the other vulnerable adults.
The key tasks of the parish safeguarding officer are to:
- Have an overview of all church activities involving children and vulnerable adults and keep a record of these activities.
- Be familiar with diocesan safeguarding guidance and ensure that leaders of activities are fully aware of, and are implementing, this guidance.
- Liaise with the incumbent over safeguarding issues.
- Keep in touch with the leaders of all activities and offer them advice and support over safeguarding matters.
- Liaise as necessary with the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers. Report all concerns or allegations against church officers* to the DSA.
- Attend diocesan safeguarding training offered for PSOs.
- Promote safeguarding training in the parish.
- Keep a clear record for all those safely recruited. Ensure that DBS checks have been completed and are renewed on time and that relevant safeguarding courses and refresher training is completed.
- Report to the church leadership (PCC) at least twice annually, preferably in writing, to ensure safeguarding issues are discussed and reported to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. Safeguarding should be on every PCC Agenda.
- Ensure that the Promoting a Safer Church poster with up to date contact details is displayed in prominently in Church premises.
- Keep good records of any safeguarding concerns that may arise, and ensure that others do the same.
- Promote inclusiveness in places of worship and within church activities.
- Keep the church leadership informed of good safeguarding practice.
- Undertake a regular parish safeguarding self-assessment through the Parish Safeguarding Dashboard * A “Church Officer” is a broad definition and refers to anyone appointed/elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.
* A “Church Officer” is a broad definition and refers to anyone appointed/elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.
2. What safeguarding standards must a parish meet?
In order to create a positive safeguarding culture each PCC (or equivalent body) must do the following:
Appoint a Parish Safeguarding Officer:
At least one appropriately experienced designated Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO) to work with the incumbent and PCC. This PSO should be a lay person. The PSO may also be the DBS administrator (Lead Recruiter) for church officers who work with children or vulnerable adults but if not, the PCC should appoint another individual to that role. The PSO should be supported, given a handover by the outgoing PSO and the incumbent, and complete the safeguarding training relevant to their role.
Put in place a framework for Safer Recruitment, Support and Training:
Ensure that all church officers who work with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults are:
- recruited following the House of Bishops’ Safer Recruitment & People Management July 2021Practice Guidance;
- aware of and work to House of Bishops’ safeguarding guidance (includes both policies and practice guidance);
- complete the relevant safeguarding training modules for their role and refresh at the highest level every three years;
Provide appropriate insurance to cover for all activities undertaken in the name of the PCC which involve children and vulnerable adults;
Ensure that for all roles which require a DBS check, which are not the responsibility of the diocese, are completed, and that repeat checks are carried out every three years.
Clergy and Readers must have a current DBS check (every 3 years as of /01/01/2024) with appropriate safeguarding training (every 3 years). This is the responsibility of the diocese.
A formal statement of adoption of the House of Bishops ‘Promoting a Safer Church; safeguarding policy statement’, as well as a Domestic Abuse Statement These should be agreed and reviewed annually by the PCC.
Contact details of the PSO, Churchwarden and any other church leaders.
Contact details for the Diocesan Safeguarding Team – including phone, email and website details.
Information about where to get help with child and adult safeguarding issues, domestic abuse and key helplines
Provide access to a copy of the Parish Safeguarding Handbook
Where a parish has a website, ensure that safeguarding information is displayed clearly on the home page, or there is a clear tab on the front page leading to this information.
The PCC needs to know how to respond. It must:
Create an environment, which is welcoming and respectful and enables safeguarding concerns to be raised and responded to openly, promptly and consistently;
Adopt all House of Bishops safeguarding policies and practice guidance;
Adopt Promoting a Safer Church policy statement as well as the Domestic Abuse statement;
Have a procedure in place to deal promptly with safeguarding allegations or suspicions of abuse in accordance with the relevant policy and practice guidance and in consultation with the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser;
Report all safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser;
Ensure that known offenders or others who may pose a risk to children and/or vulnerable adults are effectively managed and monitored in consultation with the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser;
Comply with all data protection legislation especially in regard to storing information about the ‘church workforce’. Including volunteers and any safeguarding records;
Ensure that an “activity risk assessment” is completed and reviewed annually for each activity which is associated with either children or vulnerable adults, and run in the name of the Church.
Ensure that it has completed a Delegation regarding the reporting of safeguarding serious incidents to the Charity Commission.
The PCC must review and report progress:
The PSO should regularly report on safeguarding in the parish. Safeguarding should be a standing agenda item at each PCC meeting. At the APCM the PCC should provide an annual report in relation to safeguarding. It is a legal obligation, in the PCC’s annual report, to make a statement which reports on progress and a statement as to whether or not the PCC has complied with the duty to have “due regard” to the House of Bishops’ guidance in relation to safeguarding. In order to have had due regard, all these points on this checklist must have been completed.
Are you working in an LEP?
If working within Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs), agree which denomination or organisation’s safeguarding policy to follow, including where to seek advice in urgent situations in line with the practice guidance. This decision should be ratified both by the bishop and other appropriate church leaders in the partnership and shared with the DSA; in the event of a specific safeguarding concern, ensure that all the LEP partners are notified. Irrespective of this choice all abuse cases arising in Church of England settings must be notified to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.
Hiring out your church premises?
Any hire agreement with any person/body wishing to hire church premises must contain a provision whereby the person/body hiring the premises agrees to comply with the relevant safeguarding guidance issued by the House of Bishops and the diocese (see separate model Hire Agreement).
The hire agreement should also contain a provision whereby all those hiring church premises are required to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are protected at all times, relevant staff have had appropriate DBS checks and that all reasonable steps have been taken to prevent injury, illness, loss or damage occurring.
Ensure that all those hiring church premises carry full public liability insurance for this, or are covered through the church insurance (for example hire for a children’s party).
Is your parish in vacancy?
During an interregnum the PCC must, working with the churchwardens, ensure that all information about safeguarding matters is securely stored before passing the information on to the new incumbent. The departing incumbent must ensure the safeguarding information is accessible to the Parish Safeguarding Officer who can pass the information on to the new incumbent when he/she takes up his new role.
Support & Compliance
The measures identified in the list above will be checked during parish visitations and the documents referred to can be found on National website or Diocesan Website. If you have questions or need support to complete the steps on the checklist you can contact the DSA for further support and advice
3. What is the Parish Safeguarding Dashboard and how can I use it?
The Parish Safeguarding Dashboard is an easy to use safeguarding tool which is free of charge to parishes.
The dashboard is a way of keeping all your safeguarding records together, at a glance, with an easy system that tells you whether you are compliant with the many House of Bishops’ safeguarding requirements.
This is not over and above what you already do, but puts your records together in one place.
This has been used in St Albans Diocese since 2019 and is being used with great effect in many other dioceses.
It is easy to use and has been extremely well received by those parishes already using it. Please watch the short video below.
Not only will this give you the chance to monitor all your safeguarding responsibilities in one place, but it will enable the Diocesan Safeguarding Team to have oversight of all the parishes that participate and help us identify and support those who may struggle.
It is not compulsory for parishes but is extremely useful and we hope that every parish will eventually use this.
Contact Catherine Boon firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to register.
4. How can I find out more about helping those with mental health issues in church?
The MH Access Pack www.mentalhealthaccesspack.org/about/ is an excellent resource which gives the church a reliable, Christian-based resource and presents the facts on key mental health issues – all in one place.
Please see the flowchart ‘Finding The Right Approach’ on the link below which helps you decide whether to follow a safeguarding path, a mental health path, or both.
5. Why do volunteer drivers need to ask their insurance company?
It is a legal requirement that drivers are insured for the activity undertaken. Driving as part of a church organised event, activity or as part of a lifts rota, are activities not necessarily covered by standard car insurance. Insurance companies will usually easily give you permission for this activity, and add it to your personal vehicle insurance free of charge upon request. This can usually be arranged simply over the phone by phoning your insurance company.