Safeguarding Policy


 Safeguarding Policy January 2020 

Our commitment to safeguarding adults and children at risk of harm

As the Leadership (Priest in Charge, Churchwardens and PCC of Stokenham, Beesands and Sherford) we recognise the need to provide a safe and caring environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults.  We acknowledge that children, young people and adults at risk can be the victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. We accept the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Human Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to “all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. We recognise our moral responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of all adults, young people and children at risk of harm. We endeavour to provide a safe and welcoming environment where children, young people and adults are respected and valued. Child protection forms part of our safeguarding responsibilities. As a Leadership we have therefore adopted the procedures set out in this safeguarding policy in accordance with statutory guidance.  We are committed to build constructive links with statutory and voluntary agencies involved in safeguarding. 

This policy and procedures document has been developed in order to safeguard the welfare of any adults at risk with whom St Michael’s, St Martin’s and St Andrew’s churches has contact, as well as to protect the church leaders, staff and volunteers.

The policy and procedures outlined in this document comply with the guidance contained in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the Care Act 2014 which states that ‘Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted’.   It is also prepared in conjunction with the guidelines issued by the Diocese of Exeter. These include the House of Bishop’s safeguarding policies.

 This Policy and the Leadership undertake to:

  • endorse and follow all national and local safeguarding legislation and procedures, in addition to the international conventions outlined above.
  • ensure that the Leadership (Priest in Charge, Churchwardens, and PCC) protect all children, young people and adults at risk attending our venues and events from physical, financial, material, psychological, sexual or discriminatory abuse, self-harm, inhuman or degrading treatment through deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance.
  • ensure the implementation of robust procedures for responding to suspicion or evidence of abuse or neglect.
  • create a culture of heightened awareness and sensitivity.
  • ensure that the safer recruitment procedures are adhered to for leaders, staff and volunteers.
  • all leaders, staff and where appropriate volunteers will receive training on Safeguarding of children, young people and adults at risk of harm covering:
  1. a) the various types and definitions of abuse; and
  2. b) procedures for dealing with suspicion/disclosure of abuse.
  • on-going safeguarding training, advice and guidelines will be provided for all staff and volunteers who work with children, young people and adults at risk.
  • ensure that those involved with children, young people and adults at risk understand they have a duty not only to protect the children, young people and adults from abuse but also that this duty is more than non-participation in abuse, it includes a duty to act where abuse is seen to be, or suspected to be taking place.
  • ensure this policy and procedures document is brought to an individual’s attention prior to the commencement of contact with children, young people and adults at risk.
  • ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to ensure that the premises will meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and all other relevant legislation, and that it is welcoming and inclusive.
  • at least one person will be designated as the Parish Safeguarding Representative for Adults. At present this is Hazel Acton. This person will deal with all adult protection matters and is the named person to contact in the first instance of disclosure.
  • support the Parish Safeguarding Representatives in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect adults.
  • the leadership are committed to developing best practice in this area and will review this policy and procedures annually at a meeting of the PCC of Stokenham, Sherford and Beesands.

The Leadership recognises that this safeguarding policy is just one means of promoting safeguarding. Good communication is essential both to those we wish to protect, to everyone involved in working with children, young people and adults at risk and to all those with whom we work in partnership.

They also recognise that many current and potential abusers do not possess criminal records and that the best way to prevent the abuse of adults is through good management practice and continuous provision of support, guidance and supervision of leaders, staff and volunteers.

Ex Offenders Statement

Old, minor and unrelated offences will not prohibit otherwise suitable people from work with adults. However, it is policy that all people with positive or blemished DBS checks will undergo a risk assessment from a suitable qualified person as per the Diocesan safeguarding policy.

Procedures for Safeguarding adults at risk

1  Recruitment and support of staff and volunteers.

In accordance with the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, the PCC of Stokenham, Sherford and Beesands, will vet and register all individuals who want to work or volunteer with children, young people or vulnerable adults.

The new Disclosure and Barring Service which came into force in 2013 aims to improve employment vetting practices. This covers all those who currently work or volunteer, or seek to work or volunteer with children and/or vulnerable adults.

When recruiting members of staff who, through their work, will regularly be in contact with children, young people and adults at risk, the following procedures will be adhered to:

1.1a  Recruitment and screening of staff

  • All posts will have a designated role.
  • All candidates will complete a standardised application form.
  • All candidates will be interviewed. This will provide an opportunity to explore an applicant’s experience of working or contact with adults at risk as a means of preventing abuse.
  • Personal references will be required in writing from at least one person who has first hand experience of his/her work paid or voluntary with adults at risk. Where an applicant has no experience of paid or voluntary work with adults at risk a reference will be sought from a reputable person who can comment on the applicant’s character and relationships with others.
  • If a DBS check is required for the role candidates will be asked to complete a ‘Confidential Declaration’ which asks if there is any reason why they should not be working with children or young people experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • Positions involving work with adults at risk are exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. All convictions however old must be declared by the applicants. Information about an applicant’s offending history is only required to prevent the abuse of adults. It is not to be used for any other purpose and will be treated in the strictest confidence. A check will be made with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), unless such a check has been carried out within the previous year and is portable. This process will be reviewed at least every 5 years. Also see Ex Offenders Statement in Policy.
  • Candidates ID will be confirmed with photo ID.
  • Appointments are conditional upon the successful completion of a probationary period in consultation with the team leader.
  • Where necessary, according to the role, identity badges will be issued

1.1b Recruitment and screening of volunteers:

  • If a DBS check is required for the role, candidates will be asked to complete a ‘Confidential Declaration’ which asks if there is any reason why they should not be working with children or young people experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect.

 1.2  Staff and volunteer management.

  • All posts will have a designated role: (Churchwarden, Treasurer, Secretary).
  • Team members will be given an induction that will form part of the screening within their probationary period. This should include: safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, lone working, confidentiality and data protection and information regarding policies and procedures
  • Staff and volunteers will receive regular supervision and guidance where safeguarding issues are on the agenda. This can be at a team meeting.
  • All team members will be made aware of these policies and procedures (and others where necessary to the role). They will be expected to attend awareness sessions on Safeguarding and/or complete e-training as advised by the safeguarding team.
  • Volunteers, if appropriate, will be given guidance about where to get advice regarding confidentiality and data protection

2  Codes of Conduct

The Leadership seeks to undertake to follow the principles found within the ‘Abuse Of Trust’ guidance issued by the Home Office and it is therefore unacceptable for those in a position of trust to engage in any behaviour which might allow a relationship of an intimate, or sexual, nature to develop with a known vulnerable adult or child for as long as the relationship of trust continues. People in a position of trust should always be aware of how behaviour can be interpreted and follow the specific guidelines for the activities they are involved in at all times. 

Whilst this policy is in place to protect the adults at risk and the workers it is noted that we cannot plan for every situation. In the event of any concerns the Parish Safeguarding Representative must be notified as soon as possible.

3  Working in Partnership  

The diversity of organisations and settings means there can be great variation in practice. This can be because of cultural tradition, belief and religious practice or understanding, for example, of what constitutes abuse.


When we work with other organisations we will discuss with them our safeguarding expectations. When we work in partnership with another organisation (by attending an event, or having an event that we invite others to) our safeguarding guidelines should be followed – if different guidelines are issued and to be followed at that event these must be agreed by a Parish Safeguarding Representatives.   It is also our expectation that any organisation using our premises, who needs a safeguarding policy, will have one that meets current expected standards.

4  Whistle blowing by members of church and public

It is, of course, the right of any individual as a citizen to make a direct referral to the safeguarding agencies or seek advice from the Diocese of Exeter Safeguarding Advisor or CCPAS, although the Leadership hope that members of the church will use this procedure commonly know as whistle blowing. If however, the individual with the concern feels that the Parish Safeguarding Representative has not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with the Parish Safeguarding Representatives as to the appropriateness of a referral they are free to contact an outside agency direct.  We hope by making this statement that the Leadership demonstrate its commitment to effective safeguarding and the protection of all those who are vulnerable.

5  Pastoral Care - Supporting those affected by abuse

The Leadership is committed to offering pastoral care, working with statutory agencies as appropriate, and support to all those who have been affected by abuse who have contact with or are part of the church family. The Priest in Charge and/or the Pastoral Team can be contacted for extra support (contact details are available from the church office).

6  Working with offenders

When someone attending the church (or activities run by the church) is known to be a risk to vulnerable adults the Leadership will supervise the individual concerned and offer pastoral care, but in its safeguarding commitment to the protection of adults at risk (and children) will set boundaries for that person which they will be expected to keep.  We will work closely with the Exeter Diocese Safeguarding Office and their advisors in this situation.

Abuse – suspicions and allegations - what to do 

Statutory Definitions of Abuse (Adults)

Who is an adult at risk? 

An adult at risk is a person aged 18yrs or over who is or may be in need of community care and services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is or may be unable to care of him or herself or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation. (Lord Chancellor’s Dept. 1997)

  • has learning disabilities
  • suffers from mental illness e.g. dementia
  • has physical disability
  • is a substance misuser
  • is homeless
  • is in an abusive relationship

Definition of abuse (Children, Young People and Adults)

‘The violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons’. (‘No Secrets’, DoH 2000)

It is the moral and professional responsibility of everyone to act on any suspicion or evidence of abuse and to pass on their concerns to the relevant Parish Safeguarding Representative. It is not your responsibility to investigate.

Abuse may be physical, verbal or psychological: it may be an act of neglect or an omission to act or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial transaction or sexual act to which s/he has not consented or cannot consent to. Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts.

The main different forms of abuse are:-

Physical including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medications, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.

Sexual including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, sexual assault or sexual acts to which the person has not consented, could not consent to, or was pressurised into consenting to.

Psychological including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

 Financial or Material including theft, fraud, exploitation, internet scamming, pressure in connection in relation to an adults financial affairs with wills/legacies, inheritance, property or financial transactions or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Discriminatory abuse including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sex orientation or religion.

 Neglect and Acts of Omission including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of basic necessities of life including medication, food and heating.

Organisational abuse including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in ones own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going  ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes or practices within the organisation.

Domestic Abuse including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called ‘honour’ based violence.

Modern Day Slavery. There are several types of MDS which include:

Child trafficking (or adults) where under 18s are moved either internationally or domestically so they can be exploited. This exploitation may involve forced labour to pay off debts for someone and the child (or adult) is forced to work against their will.

Sexual exploitation when children, young people or adults are forced to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts against their will such as prostitution, escort work and pornography.

Criminal exploitation when children, young people or adults are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pick pocketing.

Domestic servitude where children, young people or adults are forced to carry out housework and domestic chores with little or no pay, restricted movement and minimal privacy.

 Self-neglect - this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for ones personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

 Spiritual abuse is a subtle but nevertheless extremely damaging use of spiritual authority to persuade a person to act in ways which are damaging to his or her individual identity and integrity, in the name of obedience to a higher purpose.

Any or all of these types of abuse may be the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance. Abuse may sometimes be multiple e.g. physical, psychological and financial.

Who abuses and where?

Adults at risk may be abused by a wide range which could include relatives, friends, support employees, professional workers, volunteers, other people supported, neighbours and those who deliberately exploit vulnerable people and strangers.

Abuse may happen in many settings including: the family home, supported housing, a carer’s home, within residential care settings, at work and educational settings, in community settings (e.g. churches or day centres)

Legal Perspective

Some abuse will constitute a criminal offence and therefore, adults at risk, as with all other citizens, are entitled to a protection from the law. These include assault, sexual assault, rape, theft, fraud or other forms of financial exploitation and certain forms of discrimination. Criminal offences must, therefore, be referred to the police as a matter of urgency and whilst criminal investigations by police take priority over all other lines of enquiry, we may also conduct an internal investigation concurrently if it will not prejudice any legal/criminal proceedings.

Early referral to the Police will enable them to establish whether a criminal act has been committed; also their involvement will help to ensure that forensic evidence is not lost or contaminated. Police officers have considerable skill in investigating and interviewing. Police involvement will not always result in criminal proceedings

Duty to report

Everyone has a duty to report suspicions and disclosures of abuse of adults at risk immediately; failure to do so is a failure of our duty to care. It is not the responsibility of those working in a voluntary or paid capacity to judge whether abuse has taken place. Workers, both involuntary and paid capacity, must act and make sure action is taken. Every allegation/suspicion of abuse involving a vulnerable adult must be treated seriously and reported.

Detailed procedures where there is a concern about an adult at risk:

The person in receipt of allegations or suspicions of abuse should report concerns as soon as possible to the relevant Parish Safeguarding Representative who is nominated by the Leadership to act on their behalf in dealing with the allegation or suspicion of neglect or abuse, including referring the matter on to the statutory authorities. (See contact details at the end of this section)

The following procedures should then be followed:

  • Whilst allegations or suspicions of abuse will normally be reported to one of the relevant Parish Safeguarding Representatives if they cannot be contacted the reporting should not be delayed and the same reporting process and procedures listed below followed.
  • The Parish Safeguarding Representatives will wherever possible take advice from the Diocese of Exeter Safeguarding Advisor who will advise on any further action including whether the Priest in Charge can be informed.  Where the Diocese is unavailable Care Direct or the out of hours emergency service or the police can be contacted for advice. All contact details are listed at the end of this section.
  • The alleged victim’s personal safety must be ensured.
  • If medical help is needed and sought inform the doctor of any suspicions.
  • Where a medical examination is required, this will be arranged immediately following consultation with the Diocesan team and/or Care Direct, as issues of capacity to consent may be relevant.
  • Take advice from the listed agencies as to whether relatives or carers should be informed.
  • If an accusation is made against a worker whether a volunteer or paid member of staff, a member of the Leadership or a Parish Safeguarding Representative the same reporting process and procedures should be followed and the Diocese of Exeter Safeguarding Advisor should be informed. That person must be suspended from their duties pending an internal or criminal investigation.
  • Where required the insurance company, Charities Commission and any other agency required should be informed.

Make notes as soon as possible (preferably within one hour of the person talking) including a description of any injury, its size, and a drawing of its location and shape on the persons body, using a body map if needed.

  • Write down exactly what has been said, when s/he said it, what was said in reply and what was happening immediately beforehand (e.g. a description of an activity).
  • Write down dates and times of these events and when the record was made.  Also write down any action taken and keep all hand written notes even if subsequently typed up. These notes should be passed on to the Parish Safeguarding Representative to assist them should the matter need to be referred further.
  • All documents should be signed, dated and kept for an indefinite period in a secure place.
  • The Leadership will support the Parish Safeguarding Representatives in their role, and accept that any information they may have in their possession will be shared in a strictly limited way on a need to know basis.
  • Everyone who makes an allegation, complaint or raises a concern should be assured that they will be taken seriously and their comments will be treated as confidentially as soon as possible.

The role of the Parish Safeguarding Representative (or whoever else is reporting) is to collate and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and pass this information on to statutory agencies who have a legal duty to investigate. Do not investigate the concerns. Suspicions must not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated in this document.

Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser: Charles Pitman 01392 345909 Mobile: 07889 542640

Assistant Safeguarding Advisers: Phillip Parker 01392 294969

James May 01392 345910

Priest in Charge Father Michael Berrett 01548 580908

Churchwardens Stokenham: Mrs Lynda Trout 01548 580489

Mrs Sue McKenzie 01548 580878

Deputy Churchwarden Sherford: Mrs Juliet Towell 01548 531325

Parish Safeguarding Officer: Mrs Hazel Acton 01548 580500