In line with the Catholic Church of England and Wales, the Safeguarding team will respond to any allegations, disclosure or concern raised in a compassionate and prompt manner.
Commitment to responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation
All safeguarding allegations, disclosures and concerns must be reported to the Safeguarding Team (this can be via a PSR or Parish Priest) and will be dealt with promptly and in accordance with statutory safeguarding guidance and the National & Archdiocese Safeguarding procedures. Anyone who reports a safeguarding concern or allegation within the Archdiocese or directly to the safeguarding team will be treated with respect and compassion. All Clergy, Religious, PSR’s, volunteers and staff will cooperate fully with any statutory authorities and/or safeguarding team enquiry. The Archdiocese safeguarding team may need to refer matters to statutory bodies without the consent of the child and/or their parent/carer. This is done in circumstances where a statutory agency requests the team to do so, because they are undertaking a wider investigation or where there may be concerns that a child may be harmed if the parent/carer is informed. In all cases the relevant legislation pertinent to where the young person resides or the location of any alleged offence informs the safeguarding team’s action.
If you wish to report any safeguarding concern, allegation or disclosure please contact the safeguarding team on 020 7261 1606 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Commitment to treating the victims, survivors of abuse and those reporting safeguarding concerns, with respect, care and dignity,
The Archdiocese of Southwark recognises that abuse has a significant impact on an individual and their family. Whenever an allegation of abuse, a safeguarding concern or a report of poor practice is raised, the Archdiocese Safeguarding Team will offer support to those that have been affected. People will receive a compassionate response, be listened to and be taken seriously. The Archdiocese safeguarding team will respond in accordance with legislation and where appropriate this will be done in collaboration with the relevant statutory agencies. It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.
The Archdiocese acknowledges the potential distress and emotional effect when dealing with, witnessing or referring safeguarding matter for Clergy, Religious, PSR’s, volunteers or staff. Making a referral can be difficult, but everyone involved within the Church has a duty to report concerns or suspicions and has a right to do so in confidence and free from harassment. The Archdiocese safeguarding team will offer support, guidance and appropriate signposting to any individual who may have been impacted or raises a concern. If after reporting a concern, you do not feel that it has been adequately dealt with, the Archdiocese complaints or whistleblowing policy is available on the Archdiocese website.
Commitment to treating those that are subject of concerns or allegations, with care, dignity and due consideration
In responding to safeguarding concerns or allegations of abuse within the context of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese safeguarding team will endeavour to respect the rights under criminal and civil law of any accused person. In addition, the Archdiocese safeguarding team recognises people who are subject to safeguarding concerns are vulnerable during any internal or statutory agency process. The Archdiocese will take all reasonable steps to offer a support person through this process.
Where concerns are raised, regarding those that are not defined as “Adults at Risk”
In addition to accepting the statutory threshold for determining that an individual is considered to be an ‘adult at risk’, the Church recognises that at different times and in different contexts, adults can be vulnerable because of the conduct of individuals acting in the name of the Church. Where allegations are made in relation to adults who are considered vulnerable, but do not meet the statutory threshold for an “Adult at Risk”, the matter will be referred to the Head of Safeguarding for consideration as to whether it is appropriate to implement the safeguarding procedures to address the matter. Where appropriate, consultation will be made with the Vicar General and senior clergy.
Concerns about conduct which do not meet the criteria for implementation of safeguarding procedures may be referred through the appropriate procedure or process e.g. complaints, disciplinary, canonical. Consideration must always be given to whether it is necessary to notify the Bishop, Religious Congregation Leader or their delegate for consideration as to whether any further action is required to address the matter.
Process for the management of a allegation, disclosure or concern
The Archdiocese of Southwark is committed to a robust, compassionate and transparent response to all concerns or allegations raised. All allegations or concerns will be taken seriously and managed as set out in the national guidance. The Archdiocese of Southwark safeguarding team, will manage any matter that involves an individual who represents or represented the Archdiocese in any role, whether current or non-recent. Where appropriate, the matter will be reported to statutory agencies. Once statutory involvement is complete, with permission of statutory agencies or where the matter does not reach that threshold, an internal enquiry or assessment may take place to establish any risk and to ascertain the Archdiocese response. Safeguarding concerns regarding children raised to the safeguarding team will be managed in-line with Government Document “Working Together” or when regarding an Adults at Risk, Governmental guidance. Matters that relate to another Diocese or Religious order, will be transferred to the appropriate Diocesan team and the safeguarding team will ensure communication is established before withdrawing from the process. For matters outside of this scope, the safeguarding team will also assist Parishes in their support of victims and survivors and ensure all statutory or other appropriate referrals are completed and that the relevant support is in place.
Safeguarding plans are a preventative process regarding individuals (Clergy, Religious or Parishioners) attending Church:
- where they have been convicted of an offence against a child or adult
- where there is no conviction but concerns remain about their conduct towards children or adults
- after an investigation/enquiry concerns remain in regards to children or Adults at Risk
- where allegations have been made against them in regards to children or Adults at Risk and awaiting an outcome.
Safeguarding plans are put in place to manage any risk, while supporting individuals to attend Church safely. Where the allegation is found to be false, malicious or unsubstantiated, there will be no requirement to implement or continue being placed on a Safeguarding Plan.
The purpose of a Safeguarding Plan is to minimise potential risks to and protect the interests any complainant and their families. It ensures effective management of any potential risks that have been identified by statutory agencies or other processes and aims to minimise the potential for further concerns or allegations to arise. Importantly a Safeguarding Plan offers both practical and emotional support for the individual subject to a plan, identifies and agrees the roles and responsibilities of named personnel from within Church, including the Parish Priest, PSR and external agencies involved. The process also allows for any required investigation to occur transparently, ensuring that there is no undue influence by the individual concerned and follows national guidance
The process is informed by identifying potential and actual risks. Where an individual sign and adheres to a Safeguarding Plan, there is no presumption of guilt, just an acceptance that the Archdiocese has identified risks that must be managed by a safeguarding plan.
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Registered Sex Offenders
If any Clergy or Religious have contact with or become aware of any individual who has been placed on a Sex Offenders Order, the safeguarding team must be notified to ensure that the individual remains compliant with their order and to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.
There may be cases that fall below the threshold of a safeguarding plan, but where the Archdiocese still consider that a limited risk or concern remains. In such cases the Archdiocese may require certain processes in place, such as a risk-assessment, removal from role, limited access to certain groups or other restrictions. Where this is required, the safeguarding team will explain this to the individuals involved