Safeguarding Policy of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe (ROCOR)

The Diocese is constituted in Law in the United Kingdom under the official name ‘The Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe (ROCOR)’, established according to the normal rules governing Charitable Organisations, with Charity registration number 1192243. As a part of this, it maintains a Safeguarding Policy, the text of which is found in full here.

Policy History: This policy is based on the Safeguarding Policy of the London Cathedral Parish, as approved by the Ruling Bishop in 2010 and adopted in updated form by the Diocesan Assembly in April 2016. The Safeguarding Policy is normally presented for review and acceptance by the Diocesan Assembly every three years, in according with best practices set out by the Charity Commission. The current form (below) has been blessed by the Ruling Bishop (in 2019) and will be presented at the next Diocesan Assembly for its confirmation.

Diocesan Safeguarding Policy

In accordance with our Diocese’s desire to ensure that all people in her care — especially children and any who are vulnerable — are looked after with diligence and care, and in concert with the legal requirements of the United Kingdom, the following Safeguarding Policy was adopted by the Diocesan Assembly as an official policy governing the conduct of Diocesan employees and volunteers who work with vulnerable persons.

The Care and Welfare of Vulnerable People and Responsibilities of Staff and Volunteers: Combined Procedure for Children and Adults

1.0       Definitions

1.1       Vulnerable People

1.1.1   The definition of ‘a child’ is a person who has not yet attained the minimum school leaving age. For example, in England and Wales, a child can leave school on the last Friday in June if they are 16 or will be 16 before the start of the next school year.

1.1.2   The definition of ‘a young person’ is any person who is not a child but who has not attained the age of eighteen.

The definition of ‘a vulnerable adult’ is a person aged 18 or older who

  • possesses a physical, mental or emotional infirmity
  • which impairs the person’s ability to provide for his or her basic care without assistance,
  • and as a result of the infirmity and the dependency,
  • the adult has an impaired ability to protect himself or herself from maltreatment. 

1.2       Abuse 

1.2.1   The definition of abuse includes:

  • Physical, verbal or psychological pain or injury
  • An act of neglect or an omission to act
  • Persuading a vulnerable person to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented, or cannot consent.

2.0       Policy Statement

2.1       The Diocese is committed to protecting the welfare of every person as they participate in the Diocesan services and/or activities. The Diocese understands its responsibility to comply with legislation and will constantly monitor developments in this field. However, the Diocese recognises that the best protection for all people participating in Diocesan life is the vigilance and forethought of staff and volunteers in preventing circumstances where abuse of trust could occur. To that end, the Diocese will strive to create a safe and secure environment where parishioners, volunteers and staff can work together confidently in mutual respect.

2.2       Diocesan volunteers and staff are required to notify the Diocese of any police record or other factor which may make that person unsuitable to work with vulnerable people.

2.3       The Diocese will ensure that the its child protection and vulnerable adult procedures are monitored, developed and maintained and are appropriately communicated in the Diocese through a regular report to the Diocesan Assembly. Volunteers and staff are responsible for ensuring that they are familiar with the policy and procedures of the Diocese, and that new staff and volunteers are appropriately inducted.

2.4       The Diocese maintains several policies and procedures geared towards abuse prevention that include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Careful selection, training and supervision of staff and volunteers
  • Continuing education for staff
  • Disclosure & Barring Services (DBS) Checks
  • Employee and Volunteer Disciplinary Process
  • Procedure for reporting suspected abuse
  • Volunteer and staff Code of Conduct

2.5       Training on specific areas such as care and welfare of vulnerable people, identifying and reporting abuse, and confidentiality of personal information will be given as appropriate to new staff and volunteers.

3.0       Vulnerable Adults

3.1       In agreeing the procedures for dealing with suspected abuse of a vulnerable adult, the Diocese acknowledges the individual’s right to a life which maintains their independence and involves a degree of risk. Where the individual chooses to accept this risk, their wishes should be respected within the context of their capacity to understand the nature of the decision and its implications.

3.2       Staff and volunteers working for the Diocese are placed in a position of trust with regard to people taking part in Diocesan activities. Anyone who abuses that trust will be subject to disciplinary action. It is the responsibility of the staff and volunteers of the Diocese to report maltreatment of a vulnerable person. The procedure for this is detailed below.

4.0       Staff / Volunteer Code of Conduct

4.1       It is important that parishioners can participate in Diocesan activities in a safe and secure environment. To this end, the Diocese expects its staff and volunteers to abide by this Code of Conduct. 

4.2       Each staff member/Volunteer:

4.2.1   Will abide by the guiding principles and canonical rules of the Diocese in all activities

4.2.2   Will inform the Diocese of any relevant police record or other factor, or any change in his/her circumstances, which may make him/her unsuitable either as a Diocesan volunteer or for any particular Diocesan activity

4.2.3   Recognises that the role of a Diocesan staff member/volunteer places him/her in a position of trust with regard to all vulnerable people who are participating in the Diocese, and undertakes to uphold that trust at all times

4.2.4   Undertakes to maintain, within Diocesan procedures, the confidentiality of any information relating to other parishioners made available to him/her in the course of being a Diocesan staff member/volunteer

  1. Will not knowingly place him/herself in a situation where the staff member/ volunteer is alone with a vulnerable person and will endeavour to ensure, as far as possible, that there is another adult in attendance at any meeting 
  2. Will not offer a vulnerable person a lift in a car (although groups may be transported where there is suitable insurance cover in place) 
  3. Will not use the Diocese to bring financial advantage to him/herself or his/her business e.g. by directly selling his/her own company’s products or services
  4. Will ensure that any Diocesan activities involving vulnerable people outside the normal activities are agreed and approved by the Ruling Bishop or Senior Cleric in advance
  5. Will not intentionally behave in any way, physically or verbally, that could be offensive to a vulnerable person
  6. Will remember at all times that interactions between him/herself and vulnerable parishioners must be such that no reasonable person observing that interaction could construe its nature as abusive.

5.0       The Diocesan procedures for dealing with suspected abuse of trust by staff members/volunteers

5.1       When dealing with issues concerning abuse of trust, the Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative must remember that the welfare of the children, young people and vulnerable adults participating in the Diocesan life is paramount, but that the Diocese also has a responsibility to ensure that volunteers and staff are treated fairly and with respect. This procedure is designed to meet both those objectives.

5.2       The term “Vulnerable Person Representative” is used in the following procedure to indicate the appropriate person to represent The Diocese. This may be the Ruling Bishop or his appointed representative.

5.3       The term “Support worker” is used in the following procedure to indicate the appropriate person responsible for the welfare for the vulnerable person in question. This may be a Churchwarden, the Head Sister, or a Trustee.

5.4       If the allegation of abuse concerns sexual or physical abuse, do not attempt to investigate. Notify at once the Ruling Bishop (or Diocesan Authorities) who will notify the Police and inform the Vulnerable Person’s parent/carer. 

5.5       If the allegation does not concern sexual or physical abuse and is of a minor enough nature to be dealt with locally, a meeting must be arranged for the soonest possible time between the Vulnerable Person Representative, the Support Worker and the individual to whom the allegation has been made. (If at any time the Vulnerable Person Representative feels their knowledge or experience is inadequate to deal with the situation or allegation, they should contact the ruling Bishop or Diocesan Authorities).

5.6       At that meeting, any notes made about the vulnerable person’s disclosure should be used to ensure all relevant facts are passed on. A course of action must be agreed and the decision taken as to whom will undertake further discussions with the vulnerable person. Under no circumstances must the person who made the allegation be contacted by anyone other than the nominated person, after the disclosure has been passed on.

5.7       The Vulnerable Person Representative and the Support Worker will then determine the appropriate process of investigation. Once an allegation has been made, the investigation should be conducted swiftly and with appropriate thoroughness. If it is deemed necessary to make enquiries of a third party, such enquiries should be conducted with discretion.

5.8       The staff member/volunteer who is the subject of the complaint must be informed of the complaint by the Vulnerable Person Representative – although not necessarily of the identity of the person who made the complaint – and be given an opportunity to respond to it.

5.9       When interviewing the staff member/volunteer who is the subject of the complaint, it is important that this procedure is explained to the staff member/volunteer; that he/she is told that the investigation is being undertaken to establish the facts, and that any decisions will be based on the facts identified by the investigation. Explain that you will make notes of what they say to ensure you get the facts correct, but that they can see what has been written to confirm its accuracy. The staff member/volunteer must be treated with respect and allowed to state the facts as he/she knows them without interruption.

5.10    Having considered all the information available, and the views of the Support Worker, the Vulnerable Person Representative must decide on an appropriate course of action. This decision should be communicated first to the Ruling Bishop, then to the staff member/volunteer and then, via the Support Worker, to the person who made the original disclosure.

Whatever the outcome of the investigation, the Vulnerable Person Representative must complete a Complaints Procedure Form and return it, marked “Strictly Confidential”, to the Ruling Bishop and to the Diocesan Authorities.

Procedure for dealing with allegations against a staff member/volunteer of abuse of trust:

6.0       Guidelines for staff member/volunteers: Action to be taken if a young person or vulnerable adult discloses to you abuse by someone else.

6.1       If a vulnerable person who is a parishioner approaches you about an issue of abuse of trust, you must proceed with great caution.

6.2       The Staff/Volunteer’s Code of Conduct specifies that a staff member/ volunteer should not place him/herself in a situation where he/she is alone with a vulnerable parishioner. However, it is possible that a parishioner will be unwilling to make disclosures of this nature in anything but a one-to-one situation. The parishioner’s needs must take priority in this situation. Ask if the parishioner would like someone else to be present – another adult or a friend – but, if he/she declines, proceed with the interview, taking extra care with your behaviour and body language.

6.3       Before the vulnerable person goes into detail, explain the consequences of you knowing and the action you will take. Assure them that you will offer support but must pass any information to the Ruling Bishop who may take appropriate action. If the Ruling Bishop is the subject of complaint, then you will refer the matter to the Synod of Bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

6.4       Keep calm and listen to the vulnerable person – do not have physical contact at any time. Allow the vulnerable person to speak without interruption, accepting what is said

6.5       Do not make judgements or offer opinion

6.6       Explain again what will happen next. Find out when the vulnerable person is next due to see the individual who is the subject of the complaint. (You will then be able to make a judgement as to the appropriate timing of your follow-up actions.)

6.7       If the complaint concerns a situation not related directly to the Diocese (e.g. at home or at school), refer the complaint directly to the Support Worker. Pass on all information disclosed to you by the vulnerable person and then leave. All involvement by you ceases at this point.

6.8       If the complaint concerns a Diocesan staff member/volunteer, where the contact between that individual and the vulnerable person is a direct result of Diocesan activity, immediately inform the Vulnerable Person Representative who will then initiate the procedure.

7.0       Action to be taken if you receive an allegation about yourself.

7.1       Keep calm. Do not get involved in an argument which is likely to make the situation worse.

7.2       Immediately inform the Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative. The quicker that action is taken to investigate the allegations, the sooner the situation will be resolved.

7.3       Record the facts as you understand them.

7.4       Ensure that no one is placed in a position which could cause further compromise. Do not contact another agency involved with Parish or the person concerned.

7.5       Await further contact from the Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative.

8.0       Action to be taken if you suspect an abuse of trust has occurred

8.1       Discuss your suspicions with the Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative.

8.2       Record the facts which support your suspicions.

8.3       You may be asked to attend a meeting of the Vulnerable Person Representative and the Support Worker who has regular contact with the vulnerable person involved.

8.4       Once your suspicions have been passed on to the appropriate person, you should have no further involvement.

8.5       Whatever the nature of the complaint, it must be kept confidential. You must not discuss the disclosure with any individual or party other than those identified in the above procedure. 

Complaints Procedure Form

Should a complaint be made, it should be submitted as a form containing the following information (for each point, as much space as is required may be used):

  • Date:
  • Nature of Complaint: (please give brief description of complaint):
  • Name and contact number of Vulnerable People’s Representative: 
  • Staff member/volunteer against whom complaint has been made:
  • Job role:
  • Name and contact number of Support Worker involved:
  • Name and contact number of investigating person:
  • As a result of the investigation, was the complaint upheld?
  • Action(s) taken:-
  • Signed: _________________________ (The Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative.)
  • In the event of a complaint of abuse of trust, this form must be completed and returned to The Ruling Bishop and/or the Diocesan Authorities, regardless of whether or not the complaint is upheld.
  • Name and contact number of investigating person:
  • As a result of the investigation, was the complaint upheld?
  • Action(s) taken:-
  • Signed _________________________ (The Ruling Bishop or his authorised representative)
  •  In the event of a complaint of abuse of trust, this form must be completed and returned to The Rector and/or the Diocesan Authorities, regardless of whether or not the complaint is upheld.