Safeguarding FAQ

Who is responsible for safeguarding in the Catholic Church?

Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable people. In England & Wales overall responsibility sits with the Bishops Conference and the Conference of Religious.

How does that work across the country?

In October 2019, an independent review of the safeguarding structures and arrangements within the Catholic Church in England and Wales was set in motion. Given the significant changes in the social and political environment since the work done by Lord Nolan in 2001 and by the Cumberlege Commission in 2007, along with the greater numbers involved in safeguarding in the Church, it was felt that such a review was clearly overdue.

Central to these recommendations was the replacement of the then existent national safeguarding bodies: the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) and Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) with three newly constituted entities:

  1. The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency: A new professional standards body with regulatory powers.
  2. A dedicated entity regarding safeguarding for Religious Life Groups, which are more formally defined as Religious Life Safeguarding Services (RLSS)  covering religious orders and congregations.
  3. A National Tribunal to address the canonical matters connected to clergy discipline and canonical offences, exercising jurisdiction exclusively in the canonical forum but extending to preliminary case evaluation and beyond.
How does it work in the Diocese?

The Bishop is responsible for safeguarding issues in his Diocese. He delegates responsibility via the Trustees to the Safeguarding Sub Committee. The Sub Committee, together with the Bishop, appoint a Head of Safeguarding, and Safeguarding Officer. The Sub Committee is accountable to the Bishop and advise him on policy implementation and best practice. The Head of Safeguarding and Officer report to the Sub Committee and are accountable to the Bishop via the Sub Committee.

What is the Safeguarding Sub Committee?

It is a group of independent professional people, appointed by the Bishop, to oversee the implementation of Safeguarding Policies. The membership is made up of people with specific experience and expertise in safeguarding issues and includes representatives from the Police, Safeguarding Organisations, Social Work, the Probation Service and the clergy. The Sub Committee meets regularly to discuss policies and procedures, receive reports from the Head of Safeguarding and Officer and when necessary to discuss investigations and other case work and prepare reports for the Bishop.

What does the Head of Safeguarding do?

The Head of Safeguarding is responsible for:

  • Implementation of the safeguarding strategy for the Diocese.
  • Ensuring all safeguarding work is in accordance with statutory and regulatory policies and practice guidance.
  • Reporting  to the Safeguarding sub committee and Board of Trustees.
  • Management of all allegations and concerns of a safeguarding nature.
  • Day to day management and oversight of safeguarding office.
What does the Safeguarding Officer do?

The Safeguarding Officer is responsible for:

  • Operational case work and investigation.
  • Training and support to Parish Safeguarding Ministers.
  • Management of Safeguarding Plans.
What does a Parish Safeguarding Minister do?

Every Parish within the Diocese should have a Parish Safeguarding Minister (PSM), who has voluntarily undertaken the role and who has responsibility for raising awareness of safeguarding aims, policies and procedures and promoting good and safe practices in all activities involving children, young people and adults at risk within the parish community.  The PSM is the link between the parish and the central team and will have a clear understanding of best practice in relation to safeguarding, ensuring policy and practice guidance are adhered to at parish level.

The PSM leads on the safe recruitment of people to roles within the parish and has the responsibility for facilitating the DBS Disclosure procedure at parish level, ensuring that everybody who is required to go through the procedure does so.  The PSM promotes engaging with children and adults at risk within the parish whilst safeguarding all those involved.

What should I do if I want to become a Volunteer?

There is a wide range of “volunteer” roles within the parish, including Parish Safeguarding Representative, Extraordinary Minister of Communion, Youth Group Leader, Catechist, Drama Group Leader, Altar Server, Driver etc. You should speak to your Parish Safeguarding Representative and Parish Priest. You will have to complete a number of forms and discuss the reasons for wanting to be a volunteer. You will not be able to commence voluntary work until you have completed the application procedures and received a letter of appointment.

What should I do if I think a vulnerable person is at risk or is being abused?

NEVER discuss this with the person who you think is the abuser. If you have witnessed abuse or received an allegation of abuse where a child is in immediate danger you must inform the Statutory Authorities (Police/Social Services). You should then inform the Diocesan Head of Safeguarding/Officer that you have done this. If you think there is no immediate danger you must report the allegation to the Co-ordinator/Officer immediately, who will then inform the Statutory Authorities.​

If you think that someone is being groomed, discuss the issue with the Diocesan Head of Safeguarding or Officer who will agree with you what action to take. “Grooming” is a process undertaken by those seeking to perpetrate sexual abuse. This can take months, sometimes years, and will almost inevitably involve grooming of parents/carers. In its early stages, grooming may be misinterpreted as kindness or helpfulness, while latterly it tends to become increasingly coercive and manipulative.