Safeguarding

Latest Updates

(11th November 2017 – Nigel Spencer)

Update on Safeguarding Training

Most ringers will be aware from information previously circulated via Districts and from articles in the Ringing World that Dioceses are now providing Safeguarding training. The purpose of this update is to advise of the current provision by the Dioceses covering Kent towers.

Modular training courses have been devised nationally for employees such as priests and, amongst others, for lead volunteers – this category includes those ringers who are required to provide a DBS check. Tower captains and vice captains and trainers are expected to undertake this training; other ringers may undertake some of the training. Although these courses have been drawn up for the whole Church of England they are delivered by Dioceses and it is becoming clear that there will be some variations in practice. It is expected that attendance at these courses will usually be coordinated on a parish basis by the Parish priest or PCC Disclosure officer, but applications can be made direct via Diocesan websites.

All ringers may undertake an online course, C0 Basic Awareness, which provides a comprehensive overview of the range of vulnerability and abuse which may be experienced in a church setting, particularly in a congregation. This course takes about an hour to complete; it is not specific to bellringing – I think it will be particularly useful to those who wish to know more about people who are vulnerable and how they may be abused. You can access this course at home via a link in the Safeguarding section of your Diocesan website. Lead ringers, as above, should complete C0 before attending course C2 Leadership. S1 Safer Recruitment may be incorporated into the delivery of C2. A three year refresher courser, C5, will become available.

Course C2 requires attendance for a half day and gives an opportunity to explore with others the issues which are touched on in C0. I attended this course in Canterbury – I was the only ringer present. I was impressed with the delivery of this course, which was very well received by participants – it focussed on exploring issues and problems which arise within congregations. Lead ringers are required to attend. I saw it as setting the wider context of Safeguarding and, as such, useful, but not as directly relevant as the information provided on laminated sheets by KCACR to all towers, knowledge of and adherence to which I see as vital.

Course C1 Foundation has only recently been released to Dioceses. It is now being provided by Southwark and Chichester- I hope to attend one shortly. An online version is not yet available. Canterbury are waiting for this to decide how to use it. Rochester are not launching their training programme until it is available. In a recent article in the Ringing World, p 959, Chris Mew, Safeguarding lead for Central Council, refers to some training, C0, being required of all volunteers, and C1 of Tower Captains – so far our Dioceses have not taken this approach.

Tom Winter, our Training Officer, and I met with the Canterbury training officer earlier this year and have agreed to liaise again in the coming year, and I speak to each of the Diocesan teams regularly. Currently our approach mirrors the national line expressed by Chris Mew. We are supporting this training initiative but in the light of experience will be keen to consider with the Dioceses whether changes are needed in the provision for ringers. I expect to seek feedback on Safeguarding training via Districts in mid 2018.

Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults – Code of Good Practice

The County general committee have agreed a Code of Practice with diocesan safeguarding advisers — this is set out below. The Code is concerned with safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. The legal requirements apply only in a child protection context but the principles of care and vigilance apply in both situations.

This version is dated May 2016.

For earlier updates please click here.

The Kent County Association of Change Ringers (KCACR) and the dioceses responsible for C of E churches in Kent (Canterbury, Chichester, Rochester and Southwark) have agreed this code of good practice which summarises the legal and social responsibilities for bellringers as regards ringing with young people and with vulnerable adults.

Bellringing should be a safe and rewarding activity for all ringers. Following good advice and maintaining a welcoming but vigilant approach will ensure this continues.

In any tower the responsibility for who rings, and when, lies with the priest in charge and the PCC, but good practice is in effect ensured and maintained by the ringers themselves. KCACR has attached a high level of importance to agreeing this document jointly with the dioceses, to reflect the church/tower partnership. KCACR appoints an officer to hold a responsibility for good practice as regards safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, referred to below as the KCACR lead officer.

Key documents

This paper is consistent with and draws on three key sets of documents.

  1. Protecting All God’s Children (2010) With its accompanying publication, Practice Guidance: Safe Recruitment (2015) relating to safer recruitment, this provides a comprehensive account of the Church of England’s responsibilities, policies and procedures as regards child protection, across the range of church activity and roles. It is not specific to ringing.
  2. Diocesan policies These are based on national guidance but locally produced, and contain detail of local arrangements, procedures and contacts. Canterbury has also produced specific guidelines on safeguarding in the context of bellringing.
  3. Safeguarding Young Ringers This guidance from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) sets out good practice with advice on how to ensure safety both in and out of the tower. The Central Council’s Tower Stewardship Committee issued Safeguarding Children in Towers, in January 2016, with detail on the legislative background.

Responsibilities

  • The KCACR county committee will consider safeguarding issues at a minimum of two meetings per year. A report to the AGM will be included in the annual Handbook.
  • The KCACR lead officer will report to the Association as above, and liaise with diocesan officials. He/she will ensure that Association procedures comply with CCCBR and diocesan guidance and legal requirements, and that as far as possible towers affiliated to the Association are aware of and meet such guidance and requirements.
  • The Association will provide a laminated good practice guide to each affiliated tower.
  • Tower captains and those responsible for teaching ringers will ensure that this guidance is followed.
  • Tower captains should consider safeguarding issues at tower AGMs and should agree with the priest in charge which ringers should be DBS checked, and any local considerations to be included in the PCC policy.
  • Diocesan safeguarding advisers will liaise with the KCACR lead officer as required, with one adviser acting as the main point of contact for consultation on legal and procedural changes etc. Advisers will act on and respond to items of concern referred to them by KCACR, tower officers or others.

Inappropriate behaviour

Tower captains should discuss incidents and behaviour which cause them concern with the priest in charge and parish child protection coordinator, who will contact the diocesan safeguarding adviser if there are safeguarding issues. The tower captain should inform the KCACR lead officer of this referral.

These matters will be considered at diocesan level in accordance with procedures set out in the diocesan policy. Risk assessments will take account of information provided by the tower captain and the KCACR lead officer, but decisions whether a ringer may continue ringing, possibly with conditions, or will not be allowed to ring are taken by the priest in charge and PCC in the light of safeguarding advice from the diocese. The KCACR lead officer will ensure that these decisions are implemented.

Diocesan safeguarding advisers are available for direct discussion with tower captains seeking advice. If tower captains have serious concerns about a ringer or become aware of past offences against children the diocesan safeguarding adviser should be informed immediately so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard children.

Good practice

KCACR firmly supports the need to ensure that care is taken to ensure that young and vulnerable ringers are not placed in situations where inappropriate behaviour and abuse can take place. The laminated information provided (see Appendix 1) should be displayed visibly in the tower and should be shown to new ringers, who will be expected to follow it, and to the parents of young ringers, who should complete the consent form and agree local transport arrangements, eg with an adult ringer giving lifts from home to church for which the parents accept responsibility.

The requirements for tower captains and approved trainers to be present, and safe procedures to be observed, applies not just in the ringing chamber but also when training meetings and outings are arranged. Parental consent must be obtained and safe escort arrangements put in place.  A model consent form is available for ringing away from the home tower.

Where it is necessary to enforce good practice, ringers should be advised that even when they have the best of motives they are laying themselves open to accusations if the guidelines are not followed.

DBS checks

DBS checks (formerly CRB checks) should be carried out by parish disclosure officers “on ringers who are directly caring for, teaching, training or supervising children, by tower captains, deputy/assistants, bellringing teachers/trainers or visiting tutors, and by those who are transporting children as a formal arrangement, organised by the Church or Guild/Association”. (NB: Tower captain is interpreted to include vice captain. The legal requirement relates to ringers under 16, but extending this to 18 is accepted as good practice.) Tower captains or secretaries should alert the priest in charge/parish disclosure officer to changes of officer etc so that the PCC can obtain necessary checks.

DBS checks are not a statutory requirement for Ringing Masters, because their duties do not normally come within the required elements of “regulated activity.” Association members must possess a DBS if they lead events which come within scope.

 

Review

This Code of Practice will be reviewed by the KCACR lead, consulting with diocesan officials and Association members, one year after implementation.

Appendices

The appendices below provide a copy of advice being distributed to all towers affiliated to KCACR and a list of diocesan contacts. There are two appendices. Click on the links to display/download.

  • Appendix 1: Summary of Good Practice for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults KCACR has distributed laminated copies of the advice in this summary to be displayed in affiliated towers.  (An updated briefer version of the advice on side 2 is contained within the CCCBR General Statement referred to in Key Documents, above)
  • Appendix 2: Contact details for diocesan safeguarding staff

Conclusion

Fortunately, the abuse of children and vulnerable people is rare in church groups, including ringers, but it has happened before. Ringers who have no previous history, and thus a clear DBS, can and have abused young ringers. It is important that all ringers are vigilant. Follow good practice and make sure your tower is a safe and welcoming one.