Church Safeguarding Policy
Safeguarding is taken seriously by Caversham Park United Reformed Church. We define safeguarding as the promotion of the safety and welfare of children and adults who are at risk of, or experiencing, harm, abuse or neglect in all forms. We acknowledge children’s and adults’ right to protection from any form of abuse or neglect regardless of age, gender reassignment, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. Therefore, as members and workers of the church, we are committed to:
- the care and nurture of all children and adults,
- the safeguarding and protection of all children and adults at risk,
- the establishment of a loving church environment which is safe and caring for all people and where the dignity of each person is respected,
- an informed vigilance about the dangers of all forms of abuse, harm and neglect
within all aspects of work in the Church, and how to respond appropriately,
- ensuring everyone who engages with the life of the Church is responsible for keeping people safe,
- working together with voluntary/statutory agencies and other denominations and faith-based organisations.
We recognise that we all have a responsibility to help prevent any form of abuse and neglect
of children and adults and to ensure the wellbeing and pastoral care of those who are, or may be, at risk.
We will prevent abuse related to extremism or radicalisation and put all suitable health and safety arrangements in place as well as safeguarding, first aid, fire safety and online safety policies that everyone understands.
We will create and maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all, especially children and adults at risk, in which the dignity and rights of each person are respected.
We believe that domestic abuse in all its forms is unacceptable, inconsistent with a Christian way of living and it can affect both adults and children.
We will always acknowledge that the welfare of the child and adult at risk is paramount, and that the priority is always to act in their best interests, following legislation, statutory guidance and recognised good practice guidance to enable them access to support and protection.
We will support everyone to ensure that as a community of Christians we will all work within the agreed procedures of our safeguarding policy. The Safeguarding Co-ordinator or the Deputy Safeguarding Co-ordinator (when available) are the persons to whom all concerns or allegations should be addressed for appropriate actions to be taken. In the absence of a Safeguarding Co-ordinator, the Synod Safeguarding Officer should be contacted. Their contact details will be always available on our posters, websites, or in other communications with the public.
We will exercise proper care in the appointment and selection of trustees and those who will work with children or adults at risk within the Church, whether paid, volunteers, lay or ordained. We will ensure that trustees, staff and volunteers are suitable and legally able to act in their positions. We will use DBS/PVG checks as part of a wide range of checks on trustees, staff and volunteers to ensure that we have a broad and informed view to assist us in minimising the risk of abuse, harm or neglect.
We will support, supervise, resource and train all those who undertake work with children and adults in need of protection.
We will respond without delay to every concern, incident or complaint which suggests that a child or adult has been harmed, or is at risk of harm, and cooperate with ecumenical partners, the Police, the Designated Officer (DO , formerly known as LADO), Local Safeguarding Boards (in Wales), Children’s Partnership Boards (formally Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards) and Children’s and Adult Social Care Services in any investigation, while maintaining the confidentiality of any investigations to those directly involved.
We are committed to working with those who have suffered or suffer any form of abuse, offering appropriate pastoral support where possible as well as challenging any abuse of power, especially where it involves someone in a position of trust.
We will manage risks and those who might pose a risk to the welfare of people and the life of the Church and offer support to those known to pose a risk to children and/or adults, including supervision, referral to the appropriate agencies, and implementation of safeguarding contracts, when appropriate.
We are committed to ensuring that any allegations, concerns and complaints about abuse or neglect are recorded accurately, reported promptly and shared safely within and outside of the denomination.
We will review our safeguarding policy, practices and procedures annually, considering lessons learned from safeguarding cases and changes in legislation, statutory guidance and good working practice.
We will ensure processes and practices in all aspects of safeguarding, including discipline, risk management, whistleblowing and bullying/harassment are in alignment with Good Practice 5 – the United Reformed Church’s policy and guidance in safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk.
Any local policy changes will be formally approved by the local church trustees.
Additional Online Safety Policy
Technology is constantly advancing, bringing with it additional safeguarding considerations.
We have an online safety policy which is necessary to safeguard all electronic communications between the church and children/young people (those under 18 years of age) recognising the merging between online and offline worlds and the distinctiveness and difficulties within faith based organisations of defining clear boundaries for everyone.
This online safety policy sets out the roles, responsibilities and procedures for the acceptable, safe and responsible use of online technologies for adults and children within this church, including the use of mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices.
It explains what will happen in the event of unacceptable use of these technologies and details the support that will be provided to support children, parents and others in the safe and responsible use of these technologies beyond the church.
Why we have a policy
The use of the Internet and mobile devices has become an integral part of church and home life. There are always going to be risks to using any form of communication which lies within the public domain. It is therefore imperative that there are clear rules, procedures and guidelines to minimise these risks and especially when children use these technologies.
It is also important that workers and church members are clear about appropriate procedures so that they are safeguarded from misunderstandings or allegations through a lack of knowledge of potential risks.
This church acknowledges that whilst we will endeavour to safeguard against all risks we may not be able to completely eliminate them. Any incidents that may arise will be dealt with quickly and according to policy to ensure that children are best protected
- to ensure the safeguarding of children within and beyond church by raising awareness of appropriate and acceptable uses of online technologies
- to outline the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved
- to have clarity about procedures following the misuse of any online technologies
- to work with parents / carers and to maintain a continued awareness of both the benefits and potential issues of online technologies
Our commitment to online safety
We will equip children with the skills and knowledge that they need to use the technology in this church safely and responsibly, and to manage the possible risks. We will also ensure that they are aware of where they can go to get help, apart from trusted adults, if they are uncomfortable with anything in the digital world.
Children and Young People are expected to make appropriate and safe use of the electronic communication (devices)
When using a computer or electronic device with internet access at this church, children will be made aware of what is acceptable usage and will agree not to:
- search for and/or enter pornographic, violent, racist or hate-motivated websites
- download, forward-on, copy or burn onto CD any music, images or movies from
the Internet where permission has not been granted by the copyright holders
- disclose any personal information eg addresses (postal, email or messenger), telephone numbers, bank details, including personal information about another person
- send or display offensive messages or pictures
- deliberately browse, download, upload or forward material that could be considered offensive or illegal
- use obscene language
- violate copyright laws
- trespass in folders, work or files belonging to others
- retrieve, send, copy or display offensive messages or pictures
- harass, insult, bully or attack others
- damage computers, computer systems or computer networks
- use another user’s password
- use computers for unapproved commercial purposes
- violations of the above rules will result in a temporary or permanent ban on Internet use
- further action may be taken such as informing parents / carers
- when applicable, police or local authorities may be informed
We will make appropriate use of any photographic images and/or video footage taken during church activities.
Clear guidelines will be operated as follows:
- permission will be sought from parents / carers before any images are taken and/or displayed. Images will only be used for the specific purpose agreed by the person photographed
- written consent will specify what purposes the image will be used for, and how it will be stored. For instance if the intention is to use an image on the church website or other forms of publicity, this will be clearly stated at the time that consent is sought
- further written consent will be sought if images are to be used in ways other than originally specified
- if children object, even if parents / carers have agreed, their wishes will be respected
- photographs that include children will be selected carefully and will not enable individual children to be clearly identified
- children’s full names and/or other details will not be used anywhere in association with photographs or other media
- when using photographs of children, group pictures will be used wherever possible
- any use of images will reflect the diversity of age, ethnicity and gender of the activity
- personal mobiles will not be used to take photographs or other digital media
- except in exceptional cases, which will be agreed, and known about, digital media relating to children will be stored on church computers. Should this not be possible for any reason, where the media is to be stored will be recorded
We will ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place, including the use of filtering software on all computers used within this church.
To ensure that unwanted and unsolicited information, viruses and other malware does not intrude on the use of digital technology, we will ensure all appropriate and reasonable steps are taken to protect computers and the users of them as follows:
- filtering software will be installed on all computers used at this church or as part of any activities operated by the church.
- on our church website/s, details will be prominently displayed as to where to find help online including having the CEOP button on the website
We will respond appropriately and sensitively to all online safety concerns.
In the event of concern that there may be an online safety incident, this will be reported to the church’s designated safeguarding co-ordinator in the same manner as the reporting of any other safeguarding concern. The safeguarding co-ordinator will then determine if the matter should be reported to the statutory authorities or other appropriate agencies, including CEOP or the Internet Watch Foundation. In case of church’s designated safeguarding co-ordinator not being available, the matter needs to be reported to the synod safeguarding officer.
We will operate safe email communications with children and young people.
When using email to communicate with children and young people, workers will:
- obtain parental agreement before they use email services to communicate with a child
or young person
- use clear, unambiguous language to reduce the risk of misinterpretation
- ensure that all messages can be viewed if necessary by the worker’s supervisor and that this policy is explained to children and young people.
We will make appropriate use of mobile phones where they are needed.
Not every child or young person has the use of a mobile phone and, even if they do, parents
may not want a worker to have the number. Workers will therefore have alternative means
of communication and will ensure that communication goes through parents if this is their preference.
Mobile phones should only be used where necessary and will be guided by the following considerations:
- where appropriate group rather than individual texting will be used
- care will be taken with the language used, avoiding ambiguous abbreviations such as ‘lol’ which could mean ‘laugh out loud’ or ‘lots of love’ and always end with people’s name.
- any texts or conversations that raise concerns will be saved and passed on/shown to the worker’s supervisor
- any images of children taken on a mobile phone will be downloaded to the church computer and kept securely
- workers will not take or keep images of children on their personal mobile phone.
- workers will not give out their personal mobile number to children
- as well as ensuring that calls / texts are not sent after 9pm or before 9am, workers will also ensure that calls and texts are not sent whilst the child is at school / college, as this may be against the educational establishment’s rules
- workers will enable a password/lock on all devices to ensure data protection and will prevent unauthorised access being gained
We will consider the appropriate use of Chat & Messenger Services and whether these are necessary.
Instant Messenger Services (IM) are internet programmes that allow people to write and receive messages in real time.
As with other forms of online communication, workers will take care with regard to language and content, as well as when and for how long a communication lasts.
Workers will ensure that all communications using IM services adhere to the following:
- communication will not take place between the hours of 9 pm and 9 am [or alternatives]
- workers will ensure that they enable settings when using IM services which allow for significant conversations to be saved as text files and will keep a log of when and with whom they communicated
- children/young people will be made aware that conversations will be recorded and kept (via text files or similar)
We will make safe and appropriate use of social media platforms when communicating with young people.
When using social media platforms we will ensure that the following guidance is used by all workers:
- workers will not add young people with whom they work to their personal social media platforms if they are under the age of 18.
- workers will set up a Facebook group / page for the church or church group and invite young people (in the appropriate age group) to be members
- workers will only use an agreed social networking account for contact with young people with whom they are working
- workers will to ensure that their personal profiles on any social media platforms are set to the highest form of security to avoid young people accessing personal information or seeing any pictures of a personal nature
- messages sent to young people regarding youth activities will be posted openly and ‘inbox’ messaging should be avoided. If this is necessary in exceptional circumstances, a copy will be sent to an identified person to assist transparency
Workers will be made aware that not complying with any of the above will incur sanctions, which could include suspension or dismissal and referral to appropriate authorities.
We will store data securely
There are a variety of ways that data can be stored. Where data of any form about children is stored this will be password protected (encrypted) and in general be stored securely on the church premises or its operating office. If this is not possible then a record will be made of where the data is stored. Where it is necessary for data to be transported, memory sticks will be purchased for workers so that there is a separation between personal and church information.
Our Data is secured using data encryption certificated issued by
Concerns, Complaints and Compliments (General and On-line)
Should anyone have any concerns, complaints or compliments please contact:
Name: Dr Alison Johnston
Telephone No: 0118 947 5152
If would be helpful to have complaints in writing, as this avoids any possible misunderstanding about what the issue is. However, whether verbal or in writing, complaints will be acted upon. Any written complaint will be responded to within 10 days.
Key Contacts: Sources of advice and support
The church Safeguarding Coordinator is the person to whom all concerns or allegations relating to children, young people or adults should be addressed:
Name: Dr Alison Johnston
Telephone No: 0118 947 5152 / 0786 751 3681
Email: dr.a.johnston @ apj1.com (confidential address only not the church admin address)
In the absence of the Safeguarding Coordinator, the Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator can be contacted:
Name: Revd Margaret Dimmick TSSF
Telephone No: 0118 947 0258
Email: safeguarding @ cpurc.org.uk (confidential address not the church admin address)
Synod Safeguarding Officer
Name: Sharon Barr
Telephone No: 0777 617 8246
URC Safeguarding Office (This should only be used if you are unable to contact your Synod Safeguarding Officer)
Telephone No: 020 7520 2729
Email: safeguarding @ urc.org.uk
ThirtyOne: Eight (This should only be used for urgent advice if you are unable to contact URC)
24-hour helpline: 0845 120 4550
Designated Officer (DO)
Name: Children’s Single point of Access (Reading Borough Council)
Telephone No: 0118 937 3641 (Office Hours only)
Designated Officer (DO)
Name: Adult abuse and neglect (Reading Borough Council)
Telephone No: 0118 937 3747 / 01344 786 543 out of hours)