Protection of Vulnerable Groups Policy
For the purpose of this policy, PVG Scheme Records, PVG Scheme Record Updates, Standard and Enhanced disclosures will be referred to as ‘Disclosure Records’.
For the purpose of this policy, volunteers and members of staff will be referred to as ‘workers’.
Gate Church International SCIO aims to ensure that all children (up to the age of 18 years) and ‘protected adults’ are properly cared for and kept safe from harm while they are with staff or volunteers in the organisation. In order to achieve this we will ensure our workers are carefully selected, screened, trained and supervised.
1. Safe recruitment
Our Safeguarding Panel makes all recruitment decisions for those applying to carry out regulated work within our organisation; the Panel requires the following from all applicants so as to judge the suitability of applicants for the positions applied for:
- a completed application form to work with protected adults and/or children;
- two satisfactory references; at least one referee should have knowledge of any previous work undertaken with children and/or protected adults; for childrens workers one referee should be the applicants small group leader or a regular attender of the applicants small group.
- a completed self-declaration form;
- a Disclosure Record (and where deemed necessary equivalent background checks from foreign countries);
- verification of qualifications (where relevant).
Where there is any question concerning whether an application should be approved or declined the Safeguarding Panel will form a quorum of at least three to make the recruitment decision.
Should applicants not be satisfied with the recruitment decision of the Safeguarding Panel, an appeal can be made to the charity trustees who will review the recruitment decision after taking advice from CCPAS.
It is an offence for an individual who is barred to undertake the type of regulated work from which they are barred and it is an offence for an organisation to offer regulated work to someone who is barred or to fail to remove a person from regulated work if they have been notified that they are barred.
The Safeguarding Panel will issue all successful applicants with an identification card/sticker; identification cards/stickers must be with workers at all times when carrying out regulated work within our organisation.
At intervals of three years, or upon the role of a worker changing, an updated Disclosure Record must be requested and received; the Safeguarding Panel will review all updated Disclosure Records.
Successful applicants will receive induction training, providing an overview of the organisation and ensuring that they know its purpose, values, services and structure. Relevant training and support will be provided on an ongoing basis (at least annually) and will cover information about workers’ roles, and opportunities for practising skills needed for their work. Training on specific areas such as health and safety procedures, identifying and reporting abuse, and confidentiality will be given to new workers prior to starting regulated work; this training will be reviewed at least annually by the Safeguarding Panel.
All workers will have a designated team leader who will provide regular feedback and support.
Team leaders are responsible for ensuring that all workers (when carrying out regulated work) have a valid identification card/sticker; should any worker not be have their card/sticker, the team leader is obliged to assume that they are not authorised to carry out regulated work and will ask the worker to leave; should asking the worker to leave be genuinely not feasible, the team leader will supervise the worker at all times to ensure they have no opportunity to be alone with a child or protected adult.
4. Recognising allegations of suspicion of abuse
Abuse is defined as:
- a child or protected adult being harmed or placed at risk of harm;
- an individual engaging in inappropriate conduct involving pornography;
- an individual engaging in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature involving a child or protected adult;
- an individual giving inappropriate medical treatment to a child or protected adult.
For the avoidance of doubt the meaning of the word ‘harm’ includes physical harm, psychological harm (for example: causing fear, alarm or distress) and unlawful conduct which appropriates or adversely affects another person’s property, rights or interests (for example: theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion)’
The meaning for ‘risk of harm’ includes: attempting to harm another; trying to get someone else to harm another; encouraging someone to harm themselves or conduct otherwise causing, or likely to cause, another to be harmed.
Examples of the sort of actions that might result in someone being harmed, or placed at risk of harm include: emotional abuse, perhaps by controlling a child with extreme verbal threats; neglecting a person’s needs, for example by inappropriate feeding or failing to provide appropriate sanitation; inappropriate physical restraint; failing to attend to whatever health and safety requirements may be in force and supplying illegal or unauthorised drugs.
5. Reporting allegations of abuse or suspicions of abuse
Any worker who suspects or is in receipt of allegations of abuse (as defined in section 4.) must report the allegations/suspicions immediately (if at all possible within thirty minutes) to the Safeguarding Panel who have been appointed by the charity trustees to act on their behalf in dealing with allegations and suspicions of abuse. The report should be made verbally in the first instance, and a written record of the report should then be submitted to the Safeguarding Panel.
Under no circumstances should a worker carry out their own investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse or disclose details of the suspicion/allegation to anyone other than the Safeguarding Panel; to do so would be a breach of Disclosure Scotland’s Code of Practice.
If allegations or suspicion in any way involve a member of the Safeguarding Panel, then the report is to be made to the charity trustees; if they implicate both a member of the Safeguarding Panel and a member of the charity trustees, then the report is to be made to the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ. Telephone: 0303 003 11 11 (9am to 5pm Mon-Fri with an out of hours emergency helpline).
6. Safeguarding Panel procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse or suspicions of abuse
When an allegation is made, the role of the Safeguarding Panel is to first collate and clarify the details of the allegation or suspicion of abuse and where necessary pass this information on to the statutory agencies having a legal duty to investigate. Where the allegation or suspicion is confirmed to concern abuse (as defined in section 4.) the Safeguarding Panel will take the actions listed below.
- Where the alleged victim is aged 16 or under OR has stated that they give consent, the case is to be reported to the relevant Protection Panel for investigation within one working day (or immediately in an emergency situation). Where the victim is aged 17 or over and has stated that they do not give consent the Safeguarding Panel will contact the relevant Protection Panel, without disclosing identities, and seek guidance on how to proceed.
- Keep the details of the allegation or suspicion confidential, unless permission is granted by the relevant Protection Panel to disclose this information to related parties (for example parents/carers of the victim and/or the accused worker).
- Keep a written record of all suspicions/allegations received, statements of the parties involved, and action taken.
- Take appropriate steps to ensure the victim is supported pastorally by the church.
- Seek and follow advice given by CCPAS (who will confirm their advice in writing) to ensure best practice.
Where the allegation or suspicion is about a child the Safeguarding Panel will contact the Dundee Childcare and Protection Service (01382 307999); where the concern is regarding an adult in need of protection the Safeguarding Panel will contact the Dundee Health & Social Care Partnership First Contact Team (01382 434019 or at night and weekends 01382 307964).
Where the allegation or suspicion of abuse (as defined in section 4.) is against a worker who carries out regulated work, the Safeguarding Panel will, in addition to following the above procedures, take appropriate action to suspend or remove the accused individual from regulated work (and remove their identification card) or, where appropriate, arrange for additional supervision of the accused individual while they are carrying out regulated work. This action will be taken as soon as possible but always before the worker is next due to carry out regulated work within our organisation.
Where an individual doing (or who has been doing or who has been offered or supplied to do) regulated work has done something to harm or place a child or protected adult at harm and the impact is so serious that the Safeguarding Panel has (or would) permanently remove the individual from regulated work, the Lead Signatory (as registered with Volunteer Scotland), who is a member of the Safeguarding Panel, will make a referral to Disclosure Scotland within three months of the referral criteria being met. It is a criminal offence for the Lead Signatory to not make this referral within the required time frame.
7. Supporting those affected by abuse
The charity trustees are committed to offering pastoral care, working with statutory agencies as appropriate, and support to all those who have been affected by abuse and have contact with or are part of the church.
8. Working with offenders
When someone attending the church is known to have abused children or protected adults the Safeguarding Panel will ensure that the individual concerned is supervised and offer pastoral care and, in whatever way necessary to fulfil its safeguarding commitment to the protection of children and protected adults, set boundaries for that person and monitor that person to ensure that the set boundaries are kept.
We have requested that where legally possible Police Scotland inform our Safeguarding Panel of any sex offenders known to them who attend any of our church activities or services.
9. Code of conduct
The code of conduct is mandatory for all workers carrying out regulated work within the organisation; all workers are required to report to the Safeguarding Panel any breaches of the code of conduct, reports should be made as soon after becoming aware of the breach as possible.
10. Working in partnership
Where we partner with other organisations (both inside the UK and abroad) we will discuss our safeguarding expectations and have a partnership agreement for safeguarding. In addition to this any organisation using our premises will be required to have their own Protection of Vulnerable Groups policy that meets Disclosure Scotland’s safeguarding standards.
11. Safeguarding Panel Requirements
The panel is required to meet at least twice per year with a quorum of at least three, the review of policy, procedure, codes of conduct and training content is to be included in these meetings, minutes of these meetings are to be made available to the charity trustees within 14 days.
The Safeguarding Panel members are:
Jim Sutherland (Panel Chair)
James Anthony (Lead Signatory)
The Safeguarding Panel can be contacted between 9AM and 10PM seven day a week by phoning 01382 221222 and asking for the Safeguarding Panel, a telephone answering service is in place to transfer your call to a panel member during the stated times.