Safeguarding at SPEC

1. Overview

SPEC is committed to the Safeguarding policies of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, to take all reasonable steps to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from any form of abuse or maltreatment and to promote a safe environment for them.

This commitment flows from the fact that we are all made in the image of God and the Church’s common belief in the dignity and uniqueness of every human life.

We start from the principle that each person has a right to expect the highest level of care and protection, love, encouragement and respect that we can give.

We will liaise closely and openly with statutory agencies to ensure that any concerns or allegations of abuse that are raised are promptly reported and properly responded to, victims supported and perpetrators held to account.

Specifically:

  1. SPEC follows the guidance in the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) Procedures Manual which can be found at http://www.csasprocedures.uk.net/;
  2. SPEC follows the Diocese of Westminster’s vetting procedures for appointing staff and volunteers, including CRB and background checks;
  3. Retreat staff – who work directly with children and young people and supervise volunteers in their work with young people – are required to be familiar with the overall contents of the CSAS Procedures Manual;
  4. All staff and volunteer missionaries are required to be familiar with the CSAS  “Code of conduct for adults involved in contact with children and young people”;
  5. All volunteer missionaries undergo certified basic safeguarding training as part of their induction;
  6. All new staff undergo certified basic safeguarding training within a suitable period of time after their appointment: the length of time between appointment and training may vary depending on availability of courses and the level of contact that the staff member has with young children;
  7. The Local Safeguarding Representative at SPEC is the Director, Andrzej Wdowiak.  In the Director’s absence, the Centre Manager, Maria West, is authorised to act on behalf of the director;
  8. The Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor is Ms Natalie Creswick (nataliecreswick@rcdow.org.uk, 020 7798 9359,Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street, London, SW1P 1QN).

2. Responding

The following is an extract from the CSAS procedures, reproduced here for ease of access and as an aide memoir and also adapted as appropriate for SPEC.  The CSAS website should, if necessary, be referred to for the most up to date version of the guidelines.

Concerns and allegations about a child being at risk of some form of Significant Harm can come to the notice of an adult within the church in many different ways.

It may be an observation of a change in a child or a pattern of concerns over time; it may be that a child tells an adult something about themselves or often one child tells an adult about another child; sometimes it will be the parents of another child who has been told by their own child.

If, as a result of the information, there is a concern that a child may have suffered or be at risk of suffering Significant Harm, a referral to Children’s Social Care Services or the Police must be made. 

Whatever the source of the information, the adult receiving the information needs to observe some basic rules when responding to the information they are being given:

  • Listen to the information and acknowledge what you hear without passing judgement or minimising the information;
  • Do not put words into the person or child’s mouth or make judgemental statements about any person;
  • Take into account the person or child’s age and level of understanding, their culture and use of language;
  • Do not interrogate the child or person but be calm and reassuring;
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep e.g. not to tell anyone else;
  • Whether it is a child or an adult, be clear about what you are going to do next and when;
  • Tell them who you will need to contact i.e. your retreat leader, the Local Safeguarding Representative, Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Coordinator;
  • Do not promise total confidentiality but explain that the information will be treated with great care and, where necessary to safeguard the child, the information may be shared appropriately between specific adults trained to deal with safeguarding children matters;
  • Make careful notes, using the form provided if possible, as soon as you can and include dates, times of the incident and when the recording was made, who was present and sign the notes;
  • Contact the Local Safeguarding Representative (SPEC Director or, in his absence, the Assistant Director), as soon as possible to inform and consult them about the need for action;
  • Do not contact the adult about whom the allegation or concerns are being raised to tell them about the information, you could be putting a child or other adult in serious danger, e.g. where there is domestic violence taking place, and/or prejudice any form of investigation.

3. Concerns about a person in a position of trust

Where the concerns or allegation are about another adult in a position of trust within the church, do not inform the person in question as you might prejudice any police investigations, always contact the Local Safeguarding Representative, Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Coordinator immediately. Where the allegation concerns the person you would usually refer to, the next available Safeguarding Officer/Coordinator should be contacted.

4. Reporting

If either:

  1. A child discloses a concern to you or
  2. You have a concern about a child, maybe prompted by behaviour or by what they say

you should report your concern to your retreat leader.  If in doubt about whether to report, err on the side of caution and report.

The Safeguarding Representative will then assess what – if any – further action may be needed.  In most cases that occur at SPEC – and they are relatively rare – this usually involves informing the school or parish staff if they are still present, or the school or parish safeguarding representative/officer as the observation/incident may form part of a larger picture that the school/parish will be more aware of.

5. Code of conduct for adults involved in contact with children and young people

The following is an extract from the CSAS procedures, reproduced here for ease of access and as an aide memoir and also adapted as appropriate for SPEC.  The CSAS website should, if necessary, be referred to for the most up to date version of the guidelines.

You must:

  • Operate within the Church’s principles and guidance and any particular procedures at SPEC;
  • Treat all children and young people equally and with respect;
  • Engage and interact appropriately with children and young people;
  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide an example of good conduct you wish others to follow – an environment which allows bullying, inappropriate shouting or any form of discrimination is unacceptable;
  • Respect a child or young person’s right to personal privacy;
  • Recognise that particular care is required in moments when you are discussing sensitive issues with children and young people e.g. maintain appropriate boundaries;
  • Avoid situations that compromise your relationship with children and young people, and are unacceptable within a relationship of trust.  This rule should apply to all such behaviours including those which would not constitute an illegal act.

You must not:

  • Discuss topics or use vocabulary with children and young people which could not be used comfortably in the presence of parents or another adult;
  • Take a chance when common sense suggests another more prudent approach;
  • Physically, emotionally or sexually abuse, maltreat or exploit any child.