Safeguarding Policy

Section 1

Details of the Place of Worship

Name of Place of Worship: COM Church Dunstable

Address: Registered office: 51 High Street North, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 1JF

Tel No: 01582 477147    Email address: info@comchurch.org.uk

Membership of Denomination/Organisation: Elim Church Incorporated

Charity Number: 1071744      Company Number: 10973678

Regulators details (if any) : N/A

Insurance Company: Public Liability with Ansvar Insurance Co. Ltd.

The following is a brief description of our places of worship and activities we undertake with children / vulnerable adults:

69 High Street North: Has a carpeted hall in which we hold a number of groups and activities. It has sufficient heating for the winter months as well as ceiling fans to cool the room when it is warmer. It also has a raised area which is used as a small stage, a projector and screen as well as an excellent media system, for appropriate presentations e.g. video and music.

  • We run a Parents & Toddlers group on a Tuesday morning (during term time), 10:00am-12:00pm. It is open to all members of the public with babies and toddlers.
  • We hold Sunday morning Children’s meetings every Sunday from approx. 11:25am – 12:25 pm. It will include games, songs and age appropriate teaching.

-Junior Church: Primary School Years 1 – 6 (roughly ages 5-11) is held at our second building: 69 High Street North, Dunstable.

-Sunbeams: Age 3 ½ – School Reception (roughly ages 3 ½ – 4) is held at DYPS, Manchester Place, Dunstable, LU6 1HT

-Crèche: Toddler – 3 ½ held at Pioneer Youth and Community Centre, Manchester Place, Dunstable, LU6 1HT

51 High Street North: Is a large 1930s style cinema hall, with an open plan wooden floor downstairs and a theatre seated balcony. It has a large performance stage equipped with state of the art sound and lighting equipment.

  • We hold a School Years 7-12 (roughly ages 12-17) group on a Sunday morning which is held on the top foyer. 11:25am – 12:25 pm.

Our Commitment

As a Leadership 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 vulnerable adults 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 also concur with the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that children should be able to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse.   They have a right to be protected from “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s), or any other person who has care of the child.”  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.

The policy and attached practice guidelines are based on the ten Safe and Secure safeguarding standards published by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) and prepared in consultation with Elim Pentecostal Churches.

The Leadership undertakes to:

  • endorse and follow all national and local safeguarding legislation and procedures, in addition to the international conventions outlined above.
  • provide on-going safeguarding training for all its workers and will regularly review the operational guidelines attached.
  • ensure that the premises meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and all other relevant legislation, and that it is welcoming and inclusive.
  • support the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect children and vulnerable adults.
  • file a copy of the policy and practice guidelines with CCPAS and the local authority Children’s Social Services and any amendments subsequently published.  The Leadership agrees not to allow the document to be copied by other organisations.

Section 2

Recognising and responding appropriately to an allegation or suspicion of abuse

Understanding abuse and neglect 

Defining child abuse or abuse against a vulnerable adult is a difficult and complex issue. A person may abuse by inflicting harm, or failing to prevent harm. Children and adults in need of protection may be abused within a family, an institution or a community setting. Very often the abuser is known or in a trusted relationship with the child or vulnerable adult.

In order to safeguard those in our places of worship and organisations we adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have as our starting point as a definition of abuse, Article 19 which states:

1. Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. 

2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement. 

Also for adults the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights with particular reference to Article 5 which states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Detailed definitions, and signs and symptoms of abuse, as well as how to respond to a disclosure of abuse, are included here in our policy.

Definitions of Abuse

The Children Act 1989 requires that if the local authority has ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives or is found in their area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm*, they must make, or cause to be made, such enquiries as they consider necessary……’ Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institution or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. A child may suffer more than one category of abuse. The following definitions of child abuse recommended for registration are as stated in the joint government departments’ document, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ published in 2006.

  • Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.

  • Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

  • Neglect

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food and clothing, shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment, failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-takers, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

  • Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Signs and symptoms of abuse

When considering whether there is evidence to suggest a child or young person has been abused there are a number of possible indicators (listed below). However, there may be other explanations, so it is important not to jump to conclusions but rather seek advice from Children’s Services, the Police Child Abuse Investigation Unit or CCPAS. There may also be no signs or symptoms, this does not mean that a report of abuse is false.

Signs Suggesting Physical Abuse

  • Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
  • Injuries that occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc
  • Injuries that have not received medical attention
  • Neglect – under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, untreated illnesses, inadequate care, etc
  • Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming
  • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained tummy pains
  • Bruises, bites, burns, fractures etc that do not have an accidental explanation*
  • Cuts/scratches/substance abuse*
  • Changes in routine

Indicators of Possible Sexual Abuse

  • Any allegations made by a child concerning sexual abuse
  • Child with excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour, or who regularly engages in age-inappropriate sexual play
  • Sexual activity through words, play or drawing
  • Child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults
  • Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home
  • Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotations
  • Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia*
  • Bed wetting and soiling

*These signs may indicate the possibility that a child or young person is self-harming, mostly by cutting, burning, self-poisoning.

Signs Suggesting Emotional Abuse

  • Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clingy. Also depression/aggression, extreme anxiety.
  • Nervousness, frozen watchfulness
  • Obsessions or phobias
  • Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration
  • Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults
  • Attention-seeking behaviour
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Running away/stealing/lying

How to respond to a child wishing to disclose abuse 

  • Don’t ask questions.
  • Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep eg. not telling anyone else.
  • Accept what you hear without passing judgement.
  • Tell the child what you are going to do.
  • Make careful notes (the circumstances, what the child said, what you said etc) as soon as possible, preferably within an hour. Include dates and times of incident/recording and keep the notes safely.
  • Contact the person responsible for child protection concerns or, in their absence, take action yourself without delay.
  • Listen and pass on to the church child protection co-ordinator – do not question or investigate.
  • The Child Protection Co-ordinator should contact Children’s Services, the police or CCPAS

Safeguarding awareness

The Leadership is committed to on-going safeguarding training and development opportunities for all workers, developing a culture of awareness of safeguarding issues to help protect everyone.  All our workers will receive induction training and undertake recognised safeguarding training on a regular basis; this will be undertaken by our safeguarding officer. There will also be opportunities for all volunteers to undertake seminars and courses run by CCPAS or other organisations such as Mentoring and Befriending Foundation.

The Leadership will also ensure that children and vulnerable adults are provided with information on where to get help and advice in relation to abuse, discrimination, bullying or any other matter where they have a concern.

RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE

Under no circumstances should a worker carry out their own investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse.  Following procedures as below:

  • The person in receipt of allegations or suspicions of abuse should report concerns as soon as possible to Rob Payne (hereafter the “Safeguarding Co-ordinator”) tel no: 07984 708035 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.
  • In the absence of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, or if the suspicions in any way involve the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, then the report should be made to ——— (hereafter the “Deputy “) tel no: ———– .  If the suspicions implicate both the Safeguarding Co-ordinator and the Deputy, then the report should be made in the first instance to the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ. Telephone 0845 120 4550.  Alternatively contact Social Services or the police.
  • Where the concern is about a child the Safeguarding Co-ordinator should contact Children’s Social Services. Where the concern is regarding an adult in need of protection contact Adult Social Services or take advice from CCPAS as above.

The local Children’s Social Services office telephone number (office hours) is 0300 300 8303. The out of hours emergency number is 0800 800 8123.

The local Adult Social Services office telephone number (office hours) is 0300 300 8303. The out of hours emergency number is 0800 800 8123.

 

The Police Child Protection Team telephone number is (Bedfordshire Police).

  • In an emergency call 999.
  • In a non-emergency contact 101 and tell the operator about the abuse who will forward the details to the relevant department, which will be in contact.
  • You can text your message to 07786 200011

Other Useful Numbers:

NSPCC: 0808 800 5000

Childline: 0800 1111 (For Children)

  • The Senior Pastor Julian Richards will be informed by the Safeguarding Co-ordinators of any suspected abuse, kept updated on progress of any investigations and notified of final outcome of the case.
  • Where required the Safeguarding Co-ordinator should then immediately inform the insurance company and Mandy Campbell (Elim Regional Safeguarding Coordinator) tel no: 07724 107650.
  • Suspicions must not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated above. A written record of the concerns should be made in accordance with these procedures and kept in a secure place.
  • Whilst allegations or suspicions of abuse will normally be reported to the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, the absence of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator or Deputy should not delay referral to Social Services, the Police or taking advice from CCPAS.
  • The Leadership will support the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy 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.
  • 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 CCPAS, although the Leadership hope that members of the Place of Worship will use this procedure. If, however, the individual with the concern feels that the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy has not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with the Safeguarding Co-ordinator(s) 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 demonstrates its commitment to effective safeguarding and the protection of all those who are vulnerable.

The role of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy 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.

Detailed procedures where there is a concern about a child:

ALLEGATIONS OF PHYSICAL INJURY, NEGLECT OR EMOTIONAL ABUSE 

If a child has a physical injury, a symptom of neglect or where there are concerns about emotional abuse, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Contact Children’s Social Services (or CCPAS) for advice in cases of deliberate injury, if concerned about a child’s safety or if a child is afraid to return home.
  • Not tell the parents or carers unless advised to do so, having contacted Children’s Social Services.
  • Seek medical help if needed urgently, informing the doctor of any suspicions.
  • For lesser concerns, (e.g. poor parenting), encourage parent/carer to seek help, but not if this places the child at risk of significant harm.
  • Where the parent/carer is unwilling to seek help, offer to accompany them.  In cases of real concern, if they still fail to act, contact Children’s Social Services direct for advice.
  • Seek and follow advice given by CCPAS (who will confirm their advice in writing) if unsure whether or not to refer a case to Children’s Social Services.

ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

In the event of allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Contact the Children’s Social Services Department Duty Social Worker for children and families or Police Child Protection Team direct. They will NOT speak to the parent/carer or anyone else.
  • Seek and follow the advice given by CCPAS if, for any reason they are unsure whether or not to contact Children’s Social Services/Police. CCPAS will confirm its advice in writing for future reference.

The following procedure will be followed where there is a concern that an adult is in need of protection:

SUSPICIONS OR ALLEGATIONS OF PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE

If a vulnerable adult has a physical injury or symptom of sexual abuse the Safeguarding Co-ordinator/Deputy will:

  • Discuss any concerns with the individual themselves giving due regard to their autonomy, privacy and rights to lead an independent life.
  • If the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger or has sustained a serious injury contact the Emergency Services, informing them of any suspicions.
  • For advice contact the Adult Social Care Vulnerable Adults Team who have responsibility under Section 47 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 and government guidance, ‘No Secrets’, to investigate allegations of abuse. Alternatively CCPAS can be contacted for advice.

ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AGAINST A PERSON WHO WORKS WITH CHILDREN

If an accusation is made against a worker (whether a volunteer or paid member of staff) whilst following the procedure outlined above, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, in accordance with Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures will need to liaise with Children’s Social Services in regards to the suspension of the worker, also making a referral to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO – tel: 0300 300 4833).

Section 3

Prevention

Safe recruitment

The Leadership will ensure all workers will be appointed, trained, supported and supervised in accordance with government guidance on safe recruitment.  This includes ensuring that:

  • There is a written job description / person specification for the post
  • Those applying have completed an application form and a self-declaration form
  • Those short listed have been interviewed
  • Safeguarding has been discussed at interview
  • Written references have been obtained, and followed up where appropriate
  • A disclosure and barring check has been completed (we will comply with Code of Practice requirements concerning the fair treatment of applicants and the handling of information)
  • Qualifications where relevant have been verified
  • A suitable training programme is provided for the successful applicant
  • The applicant has completed a probationary period
  • The applicant has been given a copy of the organisation’s safeguarding policy and knows how to report concerns.

Management of Workers – Codes of Conduct

As a Leadership we are committed to supporting all workers and ensuring they receive support and supervision. All workers have been issued with a code of conduct towards children, young people and vulnerable adults. The Leadership undertakes 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 sexual relationship to develop for as long as the relationship of trust continues.

Section 4

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 place of worship.

Working with offenders

When someone attending the Place of Worship is known to have abused children, or is known to be a risk to vulnerable adults, the Leadership will have an appropriate adult supervise the individual concerned and offer pastoral care, but in its safeguarding commitment to the protection of children and vulnerable adults, set boundaries for that person which they will be expected to keep. Because it is widely recognised that sex offending is often addictive, these people must never be allowed to work with children or be left alone with them at any time

Section 5

Practice Guidelines

As a Place of Worship working with children, young people and vulnerable adults, we wish to operate and promote good working practice. This will enable workers to run activities safely, develop good relationships and minimise the risk of false accusation.

As well as a general code of conduct for workers we also have specific good practice guidelines for every activity we are involved in and these will be developed.

Working in Partnership

The diversity of organisations and settings means there can be great variation in practice when it comes to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. This can be because of cultural tradition, belief and religious practice or understanding, for example, of what constitutes abuse.

We therefore have clear guidelines in regards to our expectations of those with whom we work in partnership, whether in the UK or not. We will discuss with all partners our safeguarding expectations and have a partnership agreement for safeguarding. It is also our expectation that any organisation using our premises, as part of the letting agreement, will have their own policy that meets CCPAS’ safeguarding standards.

Good communication is essential in promoting safeguarding, both to those we wish to protect, to everyone involved in working with children and vulnerable adults, and to all those with whom we work in partnership. This safeguarding policy is just one means of promoting safeguarding.

Leadership & Trustees/Directors Safeguarding Statement

The Leadership, and Trustees/Directors recognises the importance of its ministry with children and young people and adults in need of protection and its responsibility to protect everyone entrusted to our care.

The following statement was agreed by the leadership on: 8th October 2017

This Place of Worship is committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults and ensuring their well-being.

Specifically:

  • We recognise that we all have a responsibility to help prevent the physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect of children and young people (those under 18 years of age) and to report any such abuse that we discover or suspect.
  • We believe every child should be valued, safe and happy.  We want to make sure that children we have contact with know this and are empowered to tell us if they are suffering harm.
  • All children and young people have the right to be treated with respect, to be listened to and to be protected from all forms of abuse.
  • We recognise that we all have a responsibility to help prevent the physical, sexual, psychological, financial and discriminatory abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults and to report any such abuse that we discover or suspect.
  • We recognise the personal dignity and rights of vulnerable adults and will ensure all our policies and procedures reflect this.
  • We believe all adults should enjoy and have access to every aspect of the life of the place of worship unless they pose a risk to the safety of those we serve.
  • We undertake to exercise proper care in the appointment and selection of all those who will work with children and vulnerable adults.

We are committed to:

  • Following the requirements for UK legislation in relation to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and good practice recommendations.
  • Respecting the rights of children as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Implementing the requirements of legislation in regard to people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that workers adhere to the agreed procedures of our safeguarding policy.
  • Keeping up to date with national and local developments relating to safeguarding.
  • Following any denominational or organisational guidelines in relation to safeguarding children and adults in need of protection.
  • Supporting the safeguarding co-ordinator/s in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect children/vulnerable adults.
  • Ensuring that everyone agrees to abide by these recommendations and the guidelines established by this place of worship.
  • Supporting parents and families
  • Nurturing, protecting and safeguarding of children and young people
  • Supporting, resourcing, training, monitoring and providing supervision to all those who undertake this work.
  • Supporting all in the place of worship affected by abuse.
  • Adopting and following the ‘Safe and Secure’ safeguarding standards developed by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service.

We recognise:

  • Children’s Social Services (or equivalent) has lead responsibility for investigating all allegations or suspicions of abuse where there are concerns about a child.  Adult Social Care (or equivalent) has lead responsibility for investigating all allegations or suspicions of abuse where there are concerns about a vulnerable adult.
  • Where an allegation suggests that a criminal offence may have been committed then the police should be contacted as a matter of urgency.
  • Where working outside of the UK, concerns will be reported to the appropriate agencies in the country in which we operate, and their procedures followed, and in addition we will report concerns to our agency’s headquarters.
  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

We will review this statement and our policy and procedures annually.

If you have any concerns for a child or vulnerable adult then speak to one of the following who have been approved as safeguarding co-ordinators for this place of worship.

Clive Cook, Child Safeguarding Coordinator

Rob Payne, Deputy Child Safeguarding Coordinator

Clive Cook, Adult Safeguarding Coordinator

Rob Payne, Deputy Adult Safeguarding Coordinator

A copy of the full policy and procedures is available from the Church Administrator Heidi Preston (01582 477147)

A copy of our safeguarding policy has been lodged with CCPAS and Children’s Social Services.