SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN, YOUNG PERSONS & VULNERABLE ADULTS FORWARD

The Church loves all her children like a loving mother, but cares for all and protects with a special affection those who are smallest and defenceless. This is the duty that Christ himself entrusted to the entire Christian community as a whole. Aware of this, the Church is especially vigilant in protecting children and vulnerable adults.


This duty of care and protection devolves upon the whole Church, yet it is especially through her Pastors that it must be exercised. Therefore, diocesan Bishops … must pay vigilant attention to protecting the weakest of those entrusted to her care.

(Pope Francis, Motu Proprio,
“As a Loving Mother”,
June 2016).

Well-established Safeguarding structures already exist in many Catholic dioceses throughout the world.  In the U.K., the high standard of Safeguarding provided by the Catholic Church has been widely recognized by civil and other secular or religious authorities, both locally and abroad.

For a number of years now, due to our Diocese’s limited resources, our ecclesiastical Tribunal (which is a requirement of Canon Law for every diocese) has been provided for us by the Archdiocese of Liverpool. It seemed only natural to extend this collaboration to Safeguarding too, considering that any Safeguarding canonical matters referring to our Tribunal, will thereby involve Liverpool.

The Church in Gibraltar is therefore very grateful to the Archdiocese of Liverpool for so generously extending its assistance to this small Diocese, by collaborating and sharing its ample Safeguarding resources and experience with us.

The Safeguarding Policy described in these pages is therefore essentially based on the Liverpool equivalent, obviously with some important adaptations made to dovetail it with our context in Gibraltar.

Our Holy Father implores us:

…to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities [of abuse] will no longer take place in our midst. Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to ‘zero tolerance’….


Let us not allow them to be robbed of joy. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of joy, but guard it and nourish its growth.


May we do this with the paternal fidelity of Saint Joseph and guided by Mary, Mother of tender love, so that our own hearts may never grow hard.

(Pope Francis,
Letter to Bishops on the
Feast of the Holy Innocents
December 2016).

It is in this spirit that His Lordship, Bishop Carmel Zammit, has promulgated this Safeguarding Policy for the entire Diocese of Gibraltar, effective as from Tuesday 2nd October 2018, Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.  Since most, if not all, the principles herein enunciated are to be taken as having always applied, any person having a concern as to its effect and implementation should contact the Secretary of the Safeguarding Commission of the Diocese of Gibraltar for clarification at safeguarding@catholicdiocese.gi

 

CONTENTS

A. Safeguarding Policy Statement

 

B. What is safeguarding

C. Roles and Responsibilities in Relation to Safeguarding & who the policy applies to

D. Specific Safeguarding Policies & Guidelines

E. Responding to Allegations

F. Safe Recruitment & Training

 

A. SAFEGUARDING POLICY STATEMENT

 

The Catholic Church in Gibraltar is committed as an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church to protect children, young persons and vulnerable adults from any form of abuse or maltreatment and to promote a safe environment for them through the promotion of a sustained and sustainable culture of vigilance.

The Church and individuals working for or with it or under its auspices will take all the appropriate steps to maintain a safe environment for all and to practise fully and positively Christ’s Ministry towards all, especially children, young persons and vulnerable adults and to respond sensitively and compassionately to their needs in order to help keep them safe from harm.

This commitment flows from the fact that we are all made in the image of God and the Church’s common belief in the dignity and uniqueness of every human life. We therefore start from the principle that all persons have a right to expect the highest level of care and protection, love, encouragement and respect that we can give.

We will liaise closely and openly with law enforcement and statutory agencies to ensure that any concerns or allegations of abuse that are encountered or raised are promptly reported and properly investigated, victims supported and perpetrators held to account. Our policy is one of “zero tolerance”.

 

B. WHAT IS SAFEGUARDING?

 

Every human being has an equal value and dignity which we as Catholics acknowledge as coming directly from God’s creation of male and female in His own image and likeness (c.f. Gen 1:27). This implies a duty to value all people and therefore to support them and protect them from harm, whatever their age and whatever their role in, or outside, the Church.  It denotes the protection of the right of persons to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

Because of the varied ministries of the Church we need to provide a safe environment for all, which promotes and supports their wellbeing. This includes carefully selecting and appointing those who work with children, young people or vulnerable adults and responding robustly where concerns arise.

Church religious leaders, clergy, lay staff and volunteers, as well as those serving through societies and organisations that operate in a close relationship to the Church have an important role in safeguarding and supporting children and families. Children may be in need of protection from abuse or maltreatment in their own home or in other environments including the Church itself. Wherever a child is at risk or concerns are raised about a child, all adults have a duty to act to safeguard that child and promote his or her welfare.

The need to safeguard children is not confined to any particular age group or groups in the community and all concerns should be responded to equally, always bearing in mind that the welfare of the child is paramount.

The Church recognises the importance of adults responding promptly to concerns, attentively listening to children and most importantly, communicating effectively with one another within and between organisations and agencies.

The Church’s Safeguarding policy includes arrangements which include:

  • Procedures to respond to and report concerns,
  • Codes of practice and guidelines,
  • Safe recruitment procedures.

In the same way arrangements must be in place to respond to concerns about any form of abuse or maltreatment of a vulnerable adult.

Safeguarding Children and Young Persons

For the purposes of our policies for safeguarding children and young persons, the term “child” is used to include all children and young people up to the age of 18 – someone who is under the age of eighteen.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • Providing children with guidance and support;
  • Protecting children from ill-treatment, abuse or neglect;
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health and development;
  • Ensuring that children are growing up with safe and effective care;
  • Enabling children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.

Child Protection is a part of safeguarding and refers to the activities undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant Harm.

 Glossary of Terms

‘Harm’ means ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development, including for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another;

‘Development’ means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development;

‘Health’ means physical or mental health; and

‘Ill-treatment’ includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical.

Child Abuse and Neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

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, or by exposure to drink or drugs or overmedication.

Emotional and psychological 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, gender and developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. 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, or the engendering feelings of hatred or alienation against others.

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including inappropriate sexual touching, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, photos and pornography, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Viewing or downloading abusive images of children from the Internet is not a “victimless” crime but is both evidence of abuse taking place and a criminal offence. It should be referred on in all cases.

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, or at any age, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate carers);
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment;
  • report abuse or neglect by others.

Domestic Violence this term is used to describe the physical, sexual or emotional (including verbal and financial) abuse between adults. This form of abuse affects both the victim, who by the very nature of the offence is a vulnerable adult in this context, and any children in the household. It also involves the use of children as weapons in family disputes or for the psychological gratification of adults; this must always be avoided.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

Who is a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult is defined for the purpose of our Safeguarding Policy as a person aged 18 or over,

  • who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness;
  • who is or may be unable to take care of her or himself;
  • who is or may be unable to protect her or himself against significant harm or exploitation;
  • who is, or has been, the victim of abuse or of substance abuse;
  • includes any adult who, by virtue of his or her personal characteristics or circumstances would reasonably be considered to be especially vulnerable.’

Settings in which an adult is vulnerable

An adult person is vulnerable in the context of the setting in which he or she is situated or the service he or she receives as follows;

  • those in residential accommodation provided in connection with care or nursing or in receipt of domiciliary care services;
  • those known to be receiving health care due to ill health or a chronic condition that makes them vulnerable;
  • those in lawful custody or under the supervision of a probation officer;
  • those receiving a welfare service of a prescribed description or direct payments from the Department of Social Security;
  • those receiving services, or taking part in activities, aimed at people with disabilities or special needs because of their age or state of health;
  • those who need assistance in the conduct of their affairs.

Degrees of vulnerability

A person’s level of vulnerability may increase or decrease according to the circumstances they experience at any given time. Vulnerable adults could include people with:

  • learning or physical disabilities
  • a sensory impairment
  • mental health needs
  • substance misuse needs
  • dementia

Abuse of vulnerable adults

Abuse is a violation of a person’s human and civil rights by another person or persons.

Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts. It 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 or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented or cannot consent, or as a result of pressure or undue influence. Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to or exploitation of the person subjected to it.

The following are the main forms of abuse of vulnerable adults:

Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions.

Sexual abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, or could not consent or was pressured into consenting.

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

Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect and Acts of Omission include ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and shelter.

Discriminatory abuse includes racist, sexist, ageist, which is based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.   Any or all of these types of abuse may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance.

Neglect and poor professional practice also need to be taken into account. This may take the form of isolated incidents of poor or unsatisfactory professional practice, at one end of the spectrum, through to pervasive ill treatment or gross misconduct at the other. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems and this is sometimes referred to as institutional abuse.

Who may be the abuser?

Vulnerable adult(s) may be abused by a wide range of people, including relatives and family members, professional staff, paid care workers, volunteers, other service users, neighbours, friends and associates, people who deliberately exploit vulnerable people and strangers.

Applying these definitions to different circumstances may not always be easy. Many situations may involve combinations of these elements. If any person to whom this Policy applies has difficulty in defining a situation this should be discussed with the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

 

C. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN RELATION TO SAFEGUARDING & WHO THE POLICY APPLIES TO

 

The Bishop

The Bishop has overall pastoral responsibility for his Diocese and all the faithful within it. He has delegated the development and implementation of safeguarding polices to the Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, which he has created for the purpose, and which does this in his name and with his approval.  He will seek the advice of the Commission on all safeguarding issues in particular when allegations have been made against a person who exercises a ministry within the church.

The Diocesan Safeguarding Commission

The Diocesan Safeguarding Commission is appointed by the Bishop and acts on his behalf; it has advisory and supportive functions.  It will establish, administer, keep under review and develop the Diocese’s Safeguarding policies and procedures. It will also act upon reports of allegations/concerns of abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults that have occurred within a Church environment and will work with the law enforcement and statutory agencies accordingly. It will also regularly update the Bishop on all Safeguarding matters and advise him accordingly. This will often be delegated to the Commission’s Chairman, who will meet with the Bishop on a regular basis.

Sub-Groups of the Diocesan Safeguarding Commission

The Diocesan Safeguarding Commission may create Sub-Groups to assist it in its work and to rationalize and make more efficient its functioning. The role of these Sub-Groups will be confined to specific tasks assigned to it by the Commission (e.g. Allegations Management, Risk Management). These Sub-Groups will be responsible to the Commission.

The Commission selects the members of these Sub-Groups in consultation with the Bishop. Their members shall be selected from the Commission, but it may also co-opt other persons to be members of or assist the Sub-Groups, on an indefinite period, limited or temporary basis.

Diocesan Safeguarding Officer

The first Diocesan Safeguarding Officer has been appointed by the Bishop. Future officers will be appointed by the Commission subject to the approval of the Bishop. He or she is accountable to the Bishop and the Commission at all times.  The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer ensures that the Bishop is kept up to date with all safeguarding matters. The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer takes the lead in the development and implementation and administration of safeguarding policies across the diocese, informing and accounting to the Commission. The Officer co-ordinates, plans and monitors all safeguarding work within the diocese to standards set and monitored by the Commission.

Those who work within or with the Church to whom the Church’s safeguarding policies apply

  • The Bishop
  • The Vicar General
  • Parish Priests
  • Clergy
  • Deacons
  • Seminarians
  • Altar Servers
  • Bereavement Group
  • Church Caretakers/wardens
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  • Catechists
  • Children’s Liturgy Leaders
  • Choir Leaders of Diocesan & Parish Choirs
  • Fund raisers
  • Catholic Charismatic Renewal
  • Catholic Grandparents Association
  • Christian Family Movement
  • Confraternity Our Lady of Europe
  • Co-Workers of Mother Teresa
  • Cursillo De Cristiandad
  • Emmaus Youth Group
  • Faith & Light
  • Friends of Mount Alvernia
  • Hope
  • Hospital Chaplaincy
  • The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
  • Legion of Mary
  • Marriage Care
  • Miraculous Medal Prayer Group
  • Mary Ward Mission Prayer Group
  • Nazareth House Soup Kitchen
  • Opus Dei
  • Order of Widows
  • Prison Chaplaincy
  • Saxum Institute
  • School Chaplaincy Teams
  • Secular Franciscan Order
  • Secular Franciscan Order Fraternity of Young People
  • Society of St. Vincent De Paul (Ladies)
  • Society of St. Vincent De Paul (Men)
  • Women of Grace
  • Loreto Convent School

 

D. SPECIFIC SAFEGUARDING POLICIES & GUIDELINES

 

The Church, and individual members of it will take all appropriate steps to maintain a safe environment for all and to practise fully and positively Christ’s Ministry towards children, young people and vulnerable adults. The Church authorities will liaise closely with law enforcement and statutory agencies to ensure that any allegations of abuse are promptly and properly investigated and where appropriate, victims supported and perpetrators held to account.

Our general commitment to safeguarding is reflected in and backed by a number of specific policies and guidelines relating to relevant aspects of the inter-action of the Church, its representatives and collaborators with children, young persons and vulnerable adults, including:

  • Acceptable behaviour
  • Physical contact
  • Creating a safe environment
  • Managing children’s behaviour
  • Risk Assessment
  • Anti-Bullying
  • The Use of Images of Children and Young People
  • Managing Drugs Related Incidents
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  • Home Visitor/Hospital Visitor

each of which you will find in the drop boxes below. These policies and guidelines apply to each of the persons and groups listed in Section C (“Relevant Persons”).

Policy on acceptable behaviour

There are some basic principles of acceptable behaviour which will help us to achieve a safe environment and minimise situations where children, young people or vulnerable adults could be at risk. Properly appointed adults must supervise children.

The main categories of abuse that are suffered, which will help in making decisions and determining our behaviour are:

  • Physical (ill treatment, failure to provide care)
  • Psychological (humiliation, intimidation, indifference)
  • Sexual
  • Financial or material abuse (exploitation/ theft)
  • Neglect (deliberate withholding of care/ support)
  • Discriminatory (race, gender, age, religion)

Abuse can either be deliberate, or the result of ignorance, lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Acceptable behaviour is based upon respect of

  • Dignity (individual’s)
  • Integrity (right to choose)
  • Privacy (awareness of boundaries)

Things that Relevant Persons must do and must not do.

Persons to whom this Policy applies (“Relevant Persons”) MUST:

  • Operate within the Church’s principles and guidance and any particular procedures of the Diocese.
  • Treat everyone equally and with respect – show no favouritism. Avoid being drawn into inappropriate attention-seeking behaviour e.g. tantrums and crushes.
  • Engage and interact appropriately with children, young people and vulnerable adults and allow them to talk about any concerns they may have. Physical contact must be both age appropriate and touch related to the person’s needs, not the Relevant Person’s.
  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide an example of good conduct you wish others to follow – an environment which allows bullying, inappropriate shouting or any form of discrimination is unacceptable.
  • Respect the sacred dignity of every individual and their right to personal privacy.
  • Recognise that particular care is required in moments when you are discussing sensitive issues or involved in caring for children, young people or vulnerable adults i.e. maintain appropriate boundaries.
  • Avoid situations that compromise your relationship with children, young people or the vulnerable and are unacceptable within a relationship of trust. This rule should apply to all such behaviours, including those which would not constitute an illegal act. (Keep everything in public.)
  • Ensure that a minimum of two leaders is always present, maintaining the gender balance of the group. In larger groups the following supervision ratios should be adhered to:
    • 1 adult to every 3 children under 5;
    • 1 adult to every 6 children aged 5-8;
    • 1 adult to every 10-15 children aged 8 – 11;
    • 1 adult to every 15-20 children aged over 11.

Relevant Persons MUST NOT:

  • Engage in inappropriate behaviour or contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults – physical, verbal or sexual. (Avoid any physical activity which is, or can be construed as, sexual, aggressive or threatening.)
  • Discuss topics or use vocabulary with children and young people which could not be used comfortably in the presence of parents or another adult, whether writing, ‘phoning, e-mail or internet.
  • Arrange an overnight trip with a child or young person without ensuring that another approved person will be present and that appropriate consent is in place.
  • Take a chance when common sense suggests another more prudent approach.
  • Physically, emotionally, sexually or financially exploit or compromise anyone.

Guidelines on physical contact with children, young persons and vulnerable adults

Physical contact between an adult and a child, young person or vulnerable adult should reflect the child, young person or vulnerable adult’s needs and not the adult’s. Guidance on appropriate physical contact can be found below.

Although generally speaking physical contact between adults and the children or young people with whom they are working will not be appropriate, there are occasions when it may be entirely appropriate and proper. It is crucial, however, that they only do so in ways appropriate to their role.

A ‘no touch’ approach is both inappropriate and impractical.  There should therefore be a culture of ‘limited touch’.  This means that when physical contact is made with children or young people this should be in response to:

  • Their needs at the time.
  • Of limited duration.
  • Appropriate given their age, stage of development, gender, ethnicity, and their cultural and religious background.

Appropriate physical contact will occur most often with younger children and with children or young people who have additional needs. Those working with children and young people must always be prepared to explain actions and accept that all physical contact be open to scrutiny.

All groups should have a system for recording any physical contact with a child that may be different in some way from the normal or may be considered to be open to criticism, and adults involved will ensure that they record any such physical contact.

Guidance on Physical Contact between Children and Adults

  • Any physical contact should take place in public except in a situation where this would be undignified or insensitive, e.g. a young child attending a Children’s Liturgy Group who urgently needs the toilet and there may not be enough time to seek the assistance of the parent. It will be necessary in that situation to act immediately and in as dignified a manner as possible.
  • Children have the right to decide how much physical contact they have with others (except in exceptional circumstances when they need urgent medical attention).
  • Physical contact should never be secretive, nor for the gratification of the adult. It should always reflect the child’s needs and not the adult’s.
  • Even well-intentioned physical contact may be misconstrued by the child, an observer or by anyone to whom this action is described. This is especially so where a child has experienced previous abuse or neglect. The child may associate physical contact with these past experiences and may wrongly interpret otherwise appropriate physical contact.
  • Never touch a child in a way that may be considered indecent.
  • Avoid any physical contact that is, or may be thought to be, sexually stimulating to the adult or child.
  • Never indulge in horseplay, tickling or fun fights.
  • If it is necessary for physical contact to occur regularly with an individual child or young person, for instance a very young child or a child with additional needs, this should be agreed with the parent or group leader. Otherwise there is a danger that this regular contact may be misinterpreted.
  • When physical contact is considered appropriate, seek the child’s permission, where feasible, before initiating contact. Listen, observe and take note of the child’s reaction or feelings and – so far as is possible – use a level of contact that is appropriate to the situation and acceptable to the child, for the minimum time necessary.
  • If you are helping, comforting or reassuring a child who is in distress and this requires physical contact, remain self-aware at all times and ensure that the contact is not threatening, intrusive or subject to misinterpretation. Discreetly inform your co-worker or group leader and do not isolate yourself from your co-worker or group leader. Record any situation that may give rise to concern.
  • A child may sometimes seek physical contact from an adult inappropriately.  The adult must deal with the situation gently and sensitively, reinforcing the importance of personal boundaries, and inform the group or activity leader.
  • Some children who have learning difficulties or learning disabilities are very affectionate, even to strangers. The adult must deal with the situation gently and sensitively and inform the event leaders.
  • In a group, team members, as part of good practice, should monitor one another in relation to physical contact. They should feel able to help each other by pointing out anything that could be misunderstood or uncomfortable for a child/young person.
  • If an adult engages in inappropriate touch with a child/young person this must be challenged. If there are concerns about an adult’s contact with a child or young person, advice must be sought through the Parish Safeguarding Representative or from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

Guidelines on creating a safe environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults – proper planning of events and activities

The aim of the Policy is to eliminate situations where the abuse of vulnerable people may occur by proper planning of activities and events.

The following guidelines on practices for creating safe environments in our parishes and church communities should be followed in our diocese and should help to define the tasks which will lead to sound safeguarding in our communities:

  • All volunteers should have seen and have ready access to the diocesan policy statements and guidelines and know what to do in the case of suspected or alleged abuse: Listen – Record – Refer. Always take any allegations or concerns of abuse seriously and refer immediately.
  • All volunteers must be aware of the Church’s safeguarding policies and procedures – young people, parents/ carers, volunteers and visitors. Each Church and hall should display information on the notice board giving contact information to anyone who has a concern.
  • Ensure that any premises used for parish groups and events are safe and well maintained.
  • Know where the emergency exits, fire extinguishers and alarms are and be fully aware of the evacuation plan in the event of any emergency.
  • Encourage all parish workers and volunteers to be involved in regular training (including First Aid). Ensure that there is a first aid kit and that it is checked frequently.
  • Ensure that there is adequate insurance cover, especially for activities away from the normal meeting place. This applies also to any mini buses and/ or private cars which are used – insurance and any necessary permits must be obtained.
  • Keep an up to date register of group contact information; names of children, address, telephone number, special medications, doctor’s name and address, telephone number and permission to be ‘in loco parentis’. Ensure that there is always access to a phone/ mobile in case of emergency.
  • Ensure that a minimum of two leaders is always present, maintaining the gender balance of the group. In larger groups/ clubs the following supervision ratios should be adhered to:
    • 1 adult to every 3 children under 5;
    • 1 adult to every 6 children aged 5 – 8;
    • 1 adult to every 10-15 children aged 8 – 11;
    • 1 adult to every 15-20 children aged over 11
  • During any activities away from the normal meeting place, a risk assessment should be undertaken and the supervision ratios should be increased accordingly.
  • For any activities away from the normal meeting place ensure that parents/ guardians have signed a consent form. Ensure that someone knows where the group is working away from the normal meeting place.
  • Always think and act carefully to avoid situations which could lead to difficulties or embarrassment, accusations or temptations. An example of ‘danger’ is one leader/ worker and one young person being together ‘in private’ – whether that be in counselling, or on a residential weekend, or driving someone home in a car. Remember that someone else may misinterpret your actions, no matter how well intentioned. Do not just rely on your good name to protect you.
  • Do not permit any photographs or videos to be taken or displayed of parish events without parental consent. Never show a photograph of a child or young person with personal details (including their name) accompanying it.
  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect at all times, set an example you would wish others to follow and always behave appropriately, in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
  • The ability of volunteers to continue to collaborate with the Church in that role will depend on adherence to the Church’s Safeguarding policies.

The following policy guidelines apply to various types of events that may be organised by Relevant Persons:

Events/activities in the Parish (Category A events)

This category includes one-off events and regular meetings specifically for children, young people or vulnerable adults in the parish and which are usually indoors.

Examples include:

  • Catechesis, including First Holy Communion and Confirmation Classes.
  • Children’s Liturgy.
  • Youth Groups.
  • Prayer meetings.
  • Charity Fund-raising events.
Preparing for a Category A event

One person, the event leader, should have overall responsibility for the planning, supervision and conduct of the event. In particular he/she should:

  • Ensure that appropriate approval is obtained and consent form signed.
  • Ensure an initial risk assessment appropriate to the planned event/activity is carried out prior to the event taking place. First Aid provision should be part of the risk assessment.
  • Ensure that the existing insurance arrangements are adequate for the intended activity.
  • Ensure that the leaders are appointed in accordance with the recruitment procedures and are properly prepared for this event.
  • Keep a register of meetings, the children/young people and adults present and a brief record of the activities undertaken.
  • Keep a record with up-to-date relevant information on the children and young people attending the event, e.g. health needs.
  • Ensure that those with parental responsibility understand any arrangements for collecting children/young people at the end of the event.
  • Evaluate the event as appropriate to aid learning and development and refer any issues to the appropriate individual or body.
Consent

For activities where parents and carers are in the vicinity, e.g. Children’s Liturgy, no written consent form is required. The parent or carer exercises parental responsibility by virtue of their close proximity to the event.

For activities where parents or carers are not in the vicinity, e.g. youth groups, the person with parental responsibility for each child/young person under 18 will be required to complete and sign forms containing the following:

  • A general consent form which details the planned event.
  • Consent to group/activity photographs.
  • Any relevant medical information.
  • An emergency contact telephone number.
  • Acknowledgement of the co-responsibility of those with parental responsibility to ensure reasonable behaviour during the event.
Health and safety

The event leader must ensure that:

  • The premises are appropriate for the intended activity and monitor risk throughout the activity and take appropriate action as necessary.
  • A First Aid kit is available.
  • The children/young people/vulnerable adults are briefed at the start of the event/activity and wherever possible involve them in setting any general behavioural guidelines or establishing a Code of Conduct for their behaviour.
  • Fire evacuation procedures need to be explained.
  • An incident report form is completed within 24 hours of an accident or incident.

An accident is defined as “An unplanned, unforeseen, unexpected and unintended event, which results in injury to people or damage to property”. An incident is more general and is an event that has an undesirable consequence be it involving physical impact or a “near miss.”

During an event, the leader should:

  • Ensure that no unauthorised person can gain access to the event.
  • Introduce themselves to the children, young people and vulnerable adults present.
  • Ensure that transport arrangements as agreed with parents and detailed on the consent form are adhered to.
  • Allow no child/young person/vulnerable adult to leave with someone unknown to the leaders.
Supervision

It is important to have an appropriate ratio of adult supervisors to children/young people/ vulnerable adults. The factors to consider are:

  • Age and gender of group members.
  • Individuals with special needs.
  • First Aid cover.
  • Nature of the activity.

There must always be a minimum of two adults linked to every group for all activities and events. A general guide for minimum supervision ratios is:

  • 1 adult leader for every 3 children under 5.
  • 1 adult leader for every 6 children under 8.
  • 1 adult leader for every 10-15 children aged 8-11.
  • 1 adult leader for every 15-20 children aged over 11.

Consideration must be given to increase supervision ratios as appropriate to the needs of the children, young people and vulnerable adults or the nature of the activity.

Where the group activity involves planned separation into smaller groups, the sub-groups should remain in close proximity to each other to allow for an adult leader to summon the help of another adult. This also enables the leaders in the sub-group to monitor each other so as to safeguard the interests of both children and adults involved.

Young people under 18 are welcome and encouraged to assist with events/activities. Their involvement must be monitored so that they do not have the responsibilities of a group leader or are used to meet the supervision criteria above. The more responsibilities entrusted to them the more prepared they must be for their role.

Location

Any meeting with children and young people must always be held in a public place and with a minimum of two adults present. A public place for the purpose of this policy is defined as an area which is: Visually accessible (e.g. through a window) and not behind a closed door or frequented by other people (e.g. staff room/kitchen, sports hall).

It is accepted that unforeseen circumstances (e.g. an accident) may arise whereby it is not possible to maintain the presence of two adults. For this reason care needs to be taken in the planning stage when selecting an adequate number of leaders and the venue for the event/activity. If this does occur, the situation must be reported to another leader (where applicable the group leader) and be recorded to safeguard the interests of both children and adults concerned.

Code of conduct

A Code of Conduct is given to all volunteers. It is not exhaustive and cannot cover every eventuality. It is intended to provide a minimum framework for good practice when providing activities and events specifically for children, young people and vulnerable adults. The code of conduct must be displayed in all Church premises where activities involving children, young people and vulnerable adults take place.

Discipline

Discipline should be viewed as a way of helping children achieve self-control and respect for others, not as a punishment. Group leaders should agree consistent approaches to discipline. Under no circumstances is physical chastisement acceptable.

Use of photographs/images of children

Full guidance on the use and display of images of children and young people can be found in the Policy relating to the use of photographic images.

This provides guidance on the display of Photographs of Children and Young People in Churches and Church Buildings in Gibraltar.  When photographs/images of children and young people are taken/recorded during an activity or event, care is required to ensure that the images appropriately represent the Catholic Church and do not put children at risk.

The most important factor to consider is the improper/illegal use of images of children and young people.  It is necessary to obtain the consent of the person with parental responsibility and that of the child or young person (where he/she is of an age to give ‘informed consent’).

  • This will be done prior to making or displaying images of children and young people.
  • Parents should be advised that images of their children may be made and their consent sought before they can be displayed.

The written consent of the parent/carer is included in the general parental consent form.

Anti-bullying

With a view to the prevention of bullying, each group/organisation must adopt an anti-bullying policy and ensure that it is adhered to and made available. See the Church’s separate anti-bullying policy.

Computers

Where children and young people have access to computers as part of Church activities, the event leader has a duty to ensure that:

  • Measures are in place to ensure that the likelihood of children and young people accessing inappropriate material is reduced e.g. parental controls and software to filter out internet material.
  • Children and young people are aware that their personal details e.g. last name, address, school, passwords, e-mail address and telephone numbers are private and should not be disclosed unless approval is given by the event leader.
  • Children and young people know that they should never send photographs and should be wary of chat rooms.
  • Children and young people are aware that they should advise a leader about any e-mails or anything on line that makes them feel uncomfortable or bothers them.
  • Children and young people are aware that they should advise a leader and their parent/carer of a request to meet up with someone they have met on line and not to make plans to do so without alerting an adult and never go alone to such planned meetings.
  • Children and young people are advised of a code of conduct for using chat rooms:
    • People on line might not always be who they say they are.
    • Never disclose any details of your personal information.
    • Never give out your home address or other information.
    • Arranging to meet can be dangerous. Never arrange to meet someone unless you can be sure who he or she is.
    • Tell your friends or an adult if you find something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Where use of a computer uncovers unsuitable and/or illegal information, the event leader must contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer as soon as possible.

Drugs related incidents

Prior to the event, each group/organisation must devise guidelines to manage situations where it is discovered that children or young people are involved in drugs-related incidents. Guidance on managing drugs-related incidents in the Guidelines Relating to handling Drug Related Incidents.

Accident & Emergency - Missing children/young people

When there is a concern that a child or young person may be missing, the event leader must arrange an initial search to establish if the child is in the vicinity – this should only be conducted if it is safe to do so and be dependent upon the circumstances. If an initial search is not the appropriate action or the concern remains the event leader must:

  • Ensure the well-being of the remaining children.
  • Make sure that all are accounted for and properly/adequately supervised.
  • Be mindful of the circumstances -  the time of year; location; weather conditions; time of day (dusk etc.); age and vulnerability of the child. It is important to take prompt action to avoid panic.
  • Contact the Police without delay.
  • The responsibility for conducting enquiries and a proper search, rests with the Police–they have the experience, knowledge and resources. Their involvement should be considered at the earliest opportunity as the first hour can be vitally important and a rapid response essential.
  • When the Police are contacted, ensure that the parent’s/carer’s contact details are readily available as it is their responsibility to make contact with the parent/carer. Be prepared to assist with information that will help with the enquiries.
    • Name, age, description of the child/children.
    • When and where last seen and by whom.
    • Any known reason for their absence? Is the absence out of character?
    • Any known places to be searched, people to be contacted?
    • Any known medical conditions or medication required?
  • Further assistance should only be offered to the Police after the remaining children’s welfare has been secured.
Accidents and Illness

In order to respond to an accident or illness the designated leader responsible for overseeing medical issues must ensure:

  • All relevant emergency telephone numbers are clearly displayed around the event venue.
  • Prompt assessment of the illness/injury and appropriate action is taken. First Aid should be given by qualified personnel, if available.
  • Relevant staff at the event venue should be informed as soon as possible.
  • The relevant medical form(s) must be taken with the child/young person to the GP or hospital.
  • Parents/carers must be contacted as soon as possible following the incident unless the circumstances require the intervention of the Police, in which case see ‘Procedures for Major Incidents’.
  • Any Health and Safety issues must be recorded and any remedial action taken as appropriate.

An incident report must be forwarded to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

Major Incidents

Procedures for Major Incidents:

  • The designated leader’s responsibilities are primarily to supervise and manage the children and young people. If safe to do so move the children and adults from the scene to a place of safety.
  • As soon as it is safe to do so, contact the appropriate emergency service i.e. Police, Fire or Ambulance. Follow the directions of any emergency service personnel.
  • Be prepared to give as much detail as possible of the location; nature of the incident; an estimate of the number of casualties (if known); any potential hazards. Be prepared to remain on the phone – you may be a useful link until the emergency service crews arrive.
  • Ensure emergency first aid treatment is given by qualified personnel present.
  • Take a roll call of all children/young people and leaders present at the time of the incident. Try to locate them only if it is safe to do so. If not, inform the emergency services, when they arrive, of how many people are missing, their descriptions and likely locations.
  • Depending on the nature and scale of the incident the Police may set up an “incident room” to handle information on casualties and to filter/manage calls from concerned relatives and friends. Be ready to provide any necessary details to the incident room.
  • It is the responsibility of the Police to inform the parents/carers of any victims. Initially, they will not contact parents/carers of those uninjured or safe. If it is safe to do so and there is access to a telephone, contact parents via the system of liaison between the event and the parents established in the planning of the event. It will be important to take the advice of the emergency services regarding arrangements for collection. Parents may not be able to get to the scene.
  • If it is safe and practicable to do so the designated leader or another leader should make efforts to monitor the location of children and young people if they are moved from the scene.
  • Notify the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer or other relevant Church Authorities.
Fire Safety

Procedures for fire safety:

  • All leaders must be familiar with the fire regulations and fire-fighting equipment for the event venue.
  • Leaders will ensure that all children/young people know where the appropriate fire exits, alarms and assembly points are and are given instructions on what to do if the alarm sounds.
  • All leaders must know the whereabouts of the nearest telephone.
  • Children/young people must not use fire-fighting equipment.
  • In the event of a fire alarm being raised, evacuate the building(s), move to the appropriate assembly points and take a roll call of those present.
  • Contact the Fire Brigade or activate any automatic fire alarms if available. Be prepared to give details of the location; the nature of the incident; number of buildings/people involved and potential hazards.
  • Consider undertaking regular fire drills to ensure that leaders and children become familiar with the procedures, the location of the assembly points and any action to be taken.

Unplanned contact and confession (Category B events)

This category of events refers to unplanned/informal contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The following policies apply to Category B Events:

Definition of church setting

Church settings include buildings or properties such as church, parish halls, presbyteries, religious houses, convents, monasteries, pastoral centres, retreat houses and the like.  The very nature of church buildings, religious houses and those who work in them should give a sense of safety and security. For this reason, even when church premises are being used by individuals and groups not normally associated with them, the church authorities have a responsibility for ensuring a safe and secure environment.

When this is unavoidable, any significant contact should be reported as soon as possible. N.B. This policy does not cover school premises, which have their own policies.

Visiting clergy

This policy applies to all who live/work whether temporarily or permanently in church settings. Temporary roles include visiting clergy and religious.

This requires that a Testimonial of Suitability is taken up by the Bishop. A copy of this policy is available from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer or the Vicar General’s Office.

Visiting Clergy and Religious and all other temporary visitors must adhere to the safeguarding policies and the Code of Conduct/Guidelines for contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Temporary or permanent roles may also include part-housekeepers, lodgers/tenants, house-minders (when the priest is on holiday), volunteers who for whatever reason spend a good deal of time on church premises.

Those in charge of individuals or groups and clubs who are not part of the organisational structure of the church but who use the premises on a regular basis or one-off basis e.g. disc jockey, cleaners, gardeners, handy-men.

Visitors to the presbytery

The Presbytery has a dual function, as a private residence and for public functions e.g. pastoral work. These functions should be kept separate.

Those whose roles involve them in work within the presbytery, such as housekeepers, secretarial/ parish staff etc. and with whom parishioners may come in contact, should have job descriptions and be recruited in accordance with Church policies.

Lodgers/Tenants, house minders and visitors staying for a substantial period of time must have suitable references. The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer should be consulted as to whether a Royal Gibraltar Police check (RGP check) is required in some circumstances. A written agreement should be drawn up as to the expectations of their conduct.

This does not apply to short or occasional visits by friends or family members where there would be no question of them being regarded as having any role of responsibility for the presbytery or parish.

Visitors to the presbytery must adhere to the Code of Conduct with children.

Visitors to/Use of Church Premises

Where a non-Church group uses Church premises on a regular basis, the authorising parish must ascertain that they have a child protection policy in place for their organisation, including proper recruitment procedures for their leaders/helpers, and that references and RGP checks have been obtained. Evidence of this must be provided and continued use of the premises must be subject to this condition. Any group that does not have its own procedures will be required to follow those of the Church.

A written agreement should be devised with non-parish based groups using church premises detailing that they have Safeguarding measures in place and their agreement to adhere to these measures.

Where an adult has contact with children/young people during a single event organised by the parish (e.g. children’s entertainer), the individual responsible for the event must manage the situation so that the individual in question does not have unsupervised contact with children/young people or vulnerable adults. The individual must also adhere to the Code of Conduct.

Occasionally, church premises are used by non-parish based groups that include children and young people who use the hall on a casual basis e.g. children’s parties. In these circumstances, written agreement is required pointing out that this is a private booking, and that the adults organising the event or those with parental responsibility for the children or young people present will exercise a supervisory function and are responsible for ensuring that the children and young people are safeguarded.

Known or alleged abusers in the parish or local community

When information is received that an individual is worshipping or wishes to worship in a particular parish or religious house the matter must be referred immediately to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. Contact with children and young people must be avoided until directed by the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

Sacrament of reconciliation

Children, young people and vulnerable adults should be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a way that is both in accordance with the nature of sacramental confession and offers protection to both themselves and the confessor. There are two ways this can be achieved:

  • In a place that is clearly visible to others but others are not able to hear what is being said.
  • Use of a traditional confessional box with complete separation between the penitent and the confessor.

When deciding which approach is adopted, consideration should be given to the individual’s needs, wishes and feelings; e.g. older children may wish to use the confessional box as opposed to celebrating the sacrament face to face. The confessor is free to exercise his personal choice. Whatever the choice, it must be in accordance with the principle of creating a safe environment. The Code of Conduct applies to priests celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation with children young people and vulnerable adults.

Day Trips and Outings (Category C events)

This category refers to groups belonging to a parish or a church organisation undertaking a day trip or outing. These events are non-residential.

The main policy for Category A events apply also to Category C events, in addition to the following additional guidelines when organising an outing:

Use of Transport & supervision

The following procedures apply whenever children, young people or vulnerable adults are on minibuses, coaches or other forms of transport:

  • Whatever vehicle is being used, the driver must not be responsible for the supervision of the children, young people and vulnerable adults in the vehicle.
  • The group leader is responsible for ensuring his or her group is properly supervised while they are travelling on the vehicle.
  • Any other leaders should distribute themselves to ensure all individuals can be supervised.
  • Drivers should ensure that all passengers are wearing seatbelts before setting off.
  • After the driver has set off, all the leaders must ensure that all seatbelts are worn throughout the journey.
  • If the driver considers the behaviour of any passenger dangerous, he or she should stop as soon as possible.
  • Hiring vehicles

The event leader is responsible for ensuring that coaches and buses are hired from a reputable company. Professional operators of buses and coaches are legally required to be licensed. The event leaders must ensure that the operators have the appropriate and required licences to hire the vehicle for the intended use.

When booking, the group leader should ensure that seat belts are available on the vehicle for all passengers and volunteers. The seats must face forward and seat restraints must comply with legal requirements. Buses (except public transport buses for short journeys) where seat belts are not fitted, are not appropriate for use and should not be used.

  • Accessibility

If any of the group uses a wheelchair, the event leader must ensure that transport used has appropriate access and securing facilities. It may be appropriate to use portable ramps.

  • Licences, permits and insurance

The event leaders must ensure that the driver of any vehicle has the correct entitlement on their licence. The event leader should also ensure that appropriate motor insurance is in force for any vehicle being used, and that the drivers conform to the motor insurers’ requirements.

  • Use of own minibus

Some organisations use their own minibuses for short frequent journeys and sometimes for longer trips. Any maximum capacity of the minibus must not be exceeded. A forward facing seat belt must be provided for each child. All applicable legal requirements must be complied with.

  • Private cars
    • Event leaders and other leaders or volunteers who drive children, young people and vulnerable adults in their own car must ensure their passengers’ safety, that the vehicle is roadworthy and that they have the appropriate licence and insurance cover for carrying children, young people and vulnerable adults.
    • The driver is responsible for making sure that children, young people and vulnerable adults have a seat belt and use it at all times. Vehicles without seat belts should not be used.
    • Event leaders who wish to use parents/volunteers to help transport children, young people and vulnerable adults in their own cars, must ensure that they are aware of their legal responsibility for the safety of children and young people in their cars.
    • Parents’ agreement should be sought (on the consent form) for their children to be carried in other parents’/volunteers’ cars. This is to ensure the welfare of children and young people and also in recognition of the potential vulnerability of an adult being alone with a child.
    • It is advisable that parents/volunteers driving children, young people and vulnerable adults are not put in a position where they are alone with a child or young person. The event leader should arrange a central dropping point for all children and young people rather than individual home drops.
    • If a situation arises in which an adult is unavoidably transporting a single child, young person or vulnerable adult (e.g. in a medical emergency), the child, young person or vulnerable adult should be seated in the back seat and the event should be reported to the Leader and recorded.
Recording

A register of those present at each activity should be kept and stored. A record of the event to include those present, the activities undertaken, evaluation and any other significant happenings during the event should be kept on file.

Residential Events (CATEGORY D events)

This category includes Parish Groups and Church organisations that take part in residential events.

The Health and Safety procedures contained in this policy are to be viewed as an extension of any other existing Health and Safety Policy of the Diocese.

Examples include:

  • Youth residentials and holidays.
  • Children’s camps.
  • Retreats.
  • Pilgrimages.
Preparing for residential trips

One person, the event leader, should have overall responsibility for the planning, supervision and conduct of the event. After due discussion and consultation with other team members, the event leader is responsible for ensuring that all reasonable preparation has been made for the event, and must:

  • Ensure that appropriate approval is obtained from the Parish Priest or Leader of the Organisation.
  • Prepare the programme of activities and as appropriate conduct research or visit the venue in advance to check for suitability and potential problems.
  • Ensure that the residential venue has a current fire certificate.
  • Check on the event venue’s own policies to ensure that they can be adhered to.
  • Choose the day and time of each activity carefully.
  • Organise transport and insurance, and check that they are suitable. Insurance should include public liability and personal accident injury. (See Transport in Category C).
  • Ensure that all leaders are appointed in accordance with the recruitment policies and procedures.
  • All adults wishing to be involved in the residential event must have a specific role and be accountable to the event leader.
  • Appoint an event co-leader of the opposite sex for co-educational trips.
  • Ensure that any instructors or workshop leaders within the group or at the event venue are suitably qualified for specialised activities.
  • Ensure that all leaders are properly prepared for the event and their responsibilities.
  • Ensure that the leaders are aware of the Child Protection and Health and Safety procedures relevant to the event.
  • Ensure that one leader is trained in First Aid.
  • Ensure regular and ongoing discussion and consultation takes place with other team leaders.
  • Draw up rotas to ensure that sufficient leaders are available so that children are adequately supervised at all times.
  • Obtain appropriate consents (see below).
  • Ensure that all children’s appropriate details are available in case of emergency.
  • Ensure that the person with parental responsibility is informed of the date and time of the event and is given a contact number and address of the event venue.
  • Ensure a system of liaison between the event and parents.
  • Ensure that the person with parental responsibility understands the arrangements for collecting the children at the end of the event.
  • Brief the children/young people at the start of the event and wherever possible involve them in setting any general behavioural guidelines.
  • Be aware that although mobile phones are useful means of communication, the signal cannot always be relied upon. This should be taken into account when conducting a risk assessment.
  • Call a post-event evaluation meeting within two months of the event, compile a report on the event and make recommendations to aid learning and development.
Consent

A person with parental responsibility for each child/young person under 18 will be required to complete and sign forms containing the following:

  • A general consent form for the various planned activities during the event. Certain higher risk events, as identified in the risk assessment, will require a specific consent form – if in doubt seek advice from your insurance company/provider.
  • Consent to group/activity photographs.
  • Medical information–particularly that relevant to the planned activities.
  • Emergency contact telephone numbers.
  • Acknowledgement of the co-responsibility during the event including acknowledgement of the Code of Conduct for the behaviour of children and young people.

The event leaders must ensure that consent forms are taken with the group to the event.

The event leader should ensure that each child or young person attending the event receives the following information:

  • A list of items they will need to bring and must not bring.
  • The type of activities planned for the residential trip.
  • Code of Conduct.
Health & safety

There should be a designated leader who will oversee health and safety issues. He or she must ensure the following:

  • Read and be familiar with all the event’s health and safety documents.
  • Ensure that all leaders have a briefing prior to the event, covering Health and Safety policy, supervision, child protection and transport policies. Consideration should be given to the provision of first aid training.
  • Carry out a risk assessment for all activities connected with the event prior to the event taking place and monitor for on-going health and safety issues during the event. First Aid provision should form part of the risk assessment. For residential trips a summary risk assessment should be forwarded to the Finance Secretary.
  • Ensure all children and young people are aware of where to contact an adult in an emergency at any time.
  • On the first day ensure that all children and young people are briefed as to what to do in the event of a fire including assembly point.
  • All signs are in place and that children and young people are told how to follow them.
  • In the event of an accident or incident, ensure that an incident report form is completed by the relevant person(s), whether that be the medical officer, a ‘first-aider’ or the person present at the time of the incident. The incident report form must be forwarded to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.
  • In the event of an accident or incident, ensure that all relevant staff based at the event venue are informed and their incident form completed.

The event must have a designated leader who will oversee medical issues. A first aid kit and medical details should be accessible to the leaders at all times. All leaders should have access to a full list of children/young people and leaders attending the event in case a roll call is required.

The following are minimum contents for a first-aid box where no special risk has been identified:

  • A leaflet giving general advice on first aid.
  • Six individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings.
  • One large sterile unmedicated wound dressing approximately 18cmx18cm.
  • Two triangular bandages.
  • Two safety pins.
  • Individually wrapped moist cleaning wipes.
  • One pair of disposable gloves.
  • A resuscitation shield with mouthpiece (‘Resusciade’ for hygienic mouth to mouth resuscitation) would also be useful.

An accident is defined as “An unplanned, unforeseen, unexpected and unintended event, which results in injury to people or damage to property.” An incident is more general and is an event that has an undesirable consequence be it involving physical impact or a “near miss.”

Supervision

It is important to have an appropriate ratio of adult supervisors to children/young people.

The factors to consider are:

  • Age and gender of group members.
  • Children with special needs.
  • First aid cover.
  • Nature of the activity.
  • Accommodation arrangements.

There must always be a minimum of two adults linked to every group for all activities or events.

A general guide for minimum supervision ratios is 1 adult leader for every 10 children or young people. For certain activities during the residential event, the supervision ratios indicated in Category C events could be applied.

This should be considered in the risk assessment and be approved by the event leader. Arrangements must be made to increase supervision ratios as appropriate to the needs of the children and young people or the nature of the activity.

Where the group activity involves planned separation into smaller groups, the sub-groups should remain in close proximity to each other to allow for an adult leader to summon the help of another adult. This also enables the leaders in the sub-group to monitor each other so as to safeguard the interests of both the children and adults involved.

Young people under 18 are welcome and encouraged to assist with event/activities. Their involvement must be monitored so that they do not have the responsibilities of a group leader or are used to meet supervision criteria above.

Location

Any meeting with children or young people must always be held in a public place with a minimum of two adults present.

It is accepted that unforeseen circumstances (e.g. an accident) may arise whereby it is not always possible to maintain the presence of two adults. For this reason care needs to be taken in the planning stage when selecting an adequate number of leaders and the venue for the event/activity. If this does occur, the situation must be reported to another leader (where applicable the group leader) and be recorded to safeguard the interests of both the children and adults concerned.

Code of conduct

The Code of Conduct is not exhaustive and cannot cover every eventuality. It is intended to provide a minimum framework for good practice when providing activities and events specifically for children and young people. The Code of Conduct must be displayed in all church premises where activities involving children take place.

Discipline

Discipline should be viewed as a way of helping children achieve self-control and not as a punishment. Group leaders should agree consistent approaches to discipline. Under no circumstances is physical chastisement acceptable. See separate Guidance on managing children’s behaviour.

A public place for the purpose of this policy is defined as an area which is: visually accessible (e.g. through a window) and not behind a closed door OR frequented by other people (e.g. staff room/kitchen, sports hall).

Physical contact

The policy for Category A Events applies.

Use of photographs/images of children

The policy for Category A Events and also the separate use of photographs policy apply.

Anti-bullying

The policy for Category A Events and the separate anti-bullying policy.

Computers

The policy for Category A Events applies.

Drugs-related incidents

The policy for Category A Events and the separate anti-Drugs policy apply.

Transport

The policy for Category C Events applies.

Overnight arrangements

The following guidelines apply in residential events at night-time, once the children and young people have gone to bed:

  • Accommodation must be gender specific and careful consideration should be given when allocating.
  • The adults supervising the children/young people must reflect the gender of the children/young people making up the group.
  • Principles of good practice apply to evening and night-time supervision. For this reason, any monitoring arrangements must always involve two adults and no adult should plan to be alone with a child or young person.
  • It is unacceptable that one leader shares a bedroom with children/young people. Children and young people may be allocated bedrooms together. This includes Year 13 pupils who have passed their 18th birthday. However, in the case of a child with a profound disability or a specific medical condition, whose parents think that it is necessary for one leader to share with the child in a twin room, special care must be taken. Those with parental responsibility must give specific and detailed permission for this arrangement. In addition, the matter should be referred to the Activity Leader. In cases of any doubt the matter should be referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer for advice.
  • Additional leaders should be assigned to assist with supervision on the first and last night and at other times as identified in the risk assessment.
  • Leaders must ensure that they have access to children’s and young person’s medical records and parental consent form.
  • There must always be a sufficient number of leaders on duty to supervise the event and appropriate cover available to supervise the children and young people should the leaders on duty be called away in an emergency e.g. to take a child to hospital.
  • Alcohol can only be available to leaders off duty and only in an area designated by the leader. Only social drinking is acceptable and that in moderation.
  • Leaders must only smoke in smoking areas designated by the event leader and not in the presence of children/young people.
Recording

A record of the event to include those present, the activities undertaken, outcomes and any other significant happenings during the event should be kept on file.

Accident and emergency

The policy for Category A Events applies.

Accidents and illness

The policy for Category A Events applies.

Major incidents

The Policy for  Category A Events applies.

Fire safety

The Policy for Category A Events applies.

Code of Conduct for children and young people

All those involved within the parish, whether priests, lay workers, children, parents, volunteers or parish members, have their part to play in developing this whole parish ethos so that we may all grow in our understanding of and commitment to the Christian way of life.

Parish children’s code of conduct:

  • I will respect and take care of others and not hurt or frighten anyone.
  • I will be polite to all I meet.
  • I will respect and take care of things that belong to the parish and others.
  • I will listen to and try to understand others’ opinions.
  • I will behave in a way that allows all to enjoy the group/activity.
  • I will be quiet when asked to by the activity leaders.

This Code of Conduct has been written so as to provide a happy, safe and nurturing environment for your child when attending a parish children’s activity.

We hope that you will discuss this Code of Conduct with your child to help them understand the importance of following it.

This Code of Conduct is issued to all parents/guardians who give their consent to their children taking part in a Parish/Diocesan activity.

Code of Conduct for adults involved in contact with children and young people

 YOU MUST:

  • Operate within the Church’s principles and guidance and any particular procedures of the Diocese, Parish or Club.
  • Treat all children and young people equally and with respect.
  • Engage and interact appropriately with children and young people.
  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide an example for good conduct you wish others to follow – an environment which allows bullying, inappropriate shouting or any form of discrimination is unacceptable.
  • Respect a child or young person’s right to personal privacy.
  • Recognise that particular care is required in moments when you are discussing sensitive issues with children and young people e.g. maintain appropriate boundaries.
  • Avoid situations that compromise your relationship with children and young people, and are unacceptable within a relationship of trust. This rule should apply to all such behaviours including those which would constitute an illegal act.

YOU MUST NOT:

  • Discuss topics or use vocabulary with children and young people which could not be used comfortably in the presence of parents or another adult.
  • Arrange an overnight trip with a child or young person without ensuring that another approved person will be present.
  • Take a chance when common sense suggests another more prudent approach.
  • Physically, emotionally or sexually abuse or exploit any child.

This Code of Conduct is issued to all those who work in our Parishes with Children and Young People

Guidelines on managing children’s behaviour

What is discipline?

It should not be difficult to differentiate between discipline and punishment. It is important to understand these terms in order to appreciate that when a child is disciplined, this is in fact a positive measure. It is imposed to give guidance to a child and help him/her to achieve control and remain safe.

Why children need discipline

Discipline is important so as to:

  • Protect children e.g. removing a child from a broken window while providing an explanation.
  • Support children to get along with others e.g. a child reminds another child of a group rule that helps both avoid conflict.
  • Enable a child to understand limits e.g. a child learns to take their turn during an activity as the group has set rules for how to behave.

Discipline v punishment

Discipline is not the same as punishment. Instead of using punishment to correct behaviour, children and young people need to learn what behaviour is allowed and why. Group leaders should stress DO’s rather than DON’Ts.

Sample discipline code

  • Set limits but be careful not to impose too many rules. Before making a rule ask yourself: Is it necessary? Does the rule protect a child’s health and safety? Does it protect the rights or property of others? Too many rules are hard, if not impossible, to enforce.
  • Keep rules simple and understandable.
  • Involve children as much as possible in devising a written code of conduct for their behaviour. This will make the rules clear and easily understood and children are less likely to break rules that they have helped establish.
  • Explain the rules to children and what may happen when they are broken. Be flexible. Some rules may work when a child is young, but as children get older, they need and want more independence. Remember, not all children respond in the same way.
  • Act quickly when a child misbehaves. Do not let a problem build up over time.
  • Be consistent. Agree with other leaders on sanctions.
  • Praise a child for good behaviour and accomplishments. Let a child know you appreciate his or her efforts.
  • Avoid power struggles with children – discipline is not a game in which there is a winner and a loser. Leaders expect co-operation from children and children expect adults to be fair.
  • Offer positive suggestions and avoid criticism. Criticism can cause a child to become resentful or angry and develop low self-esteem.
  • Encourage and promote independence and responsibility.
  • Always reject the behaviour and not the child or young person.

Sanctions - key principles

Sanctions must be the final resort – after instruction and problem solving. Under no circumstances is physical chastisement acceptable. The sanction must be clear and the reason for it explained without recrimination.

  • Natural consequences

Many times, children learn as a result of natural consequences; e.g. arriving late may mean that they have limited choice about their role in any planned activity within the event.

  • Redirection

Suggest an alternative activity or setting when a situation is about to get out of hand.

  • Logical consequences

The consequences of behaviour should relate somehow to the behaviour, e.g. tidying up from one activity before commencing another.

  • Time-out

The child is removed from the activity. NB When time-out is used, do so because the child needs it and not because you are angry. Also be sure the length of time is appropriate and is made clear to the child.

The sanctions to be utilised by group leaders within the event/activity should be explored and agreed prior to the event/activity taking place.

The sanction must be proportionate to the misbehaviour and only be about the issue in hand. Do not bring previous incidents to confuse the issue.

The sanction must be for a short period of time rather than for several hours or weeks.

The sanction needs to be backed up by learning so they are helped to abide by group rules in the future. No sanction is an end in itself.

Guidelines on the use of images of children and young people involved in church activities

The Catholic Church is committed to providing a safe environment for children and young people. Implicit in this is the commitment to ensure that all published images represent participants appropriately, and with due respect, and are taken and displayed in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

The key concerns regarding the use of images of children and young people relate to:

  • The possible identification of a child when a photograph is accompanied by personal information.
  • The inappropriate use, adaptation or copying of images for use in child pornography websites.
  • The taking of inappropriate photographs or recorded images of children and young people.

Recording images of children/young people

When planning community celebrations etc, e.g. First Holy Communion, at which many parents will wish to take photographs and/or professional photographers may be present, those attending should be advised of this in advance, and of the existence of this policy. If they decide to participate in the event, their consent to photographs being taken will be assumed. They will be advised of their responsibility for deciding how their children are photographed/videoed, and for removing them from the immediate area if they are concerned about any aspects of the recording.

The consent of parents and children (who are of an age to give informed consent) will always be sought in writing for the display of images, and they should not be retained.

A general consent to group and activity photos is contained within the Parental Consent Form for activities.

Recording of images will take place within the context of the group/activity/event and those employed to record images of children and young people will not have unsupervised contact with children or young people.

All children and young people featured in recordings must be appropriately dressed.

The photograph/recording should focus on the activity. Wherever possible images of children and young people will be recorded in small groups.

Any instances of the use of inappropriate images should be reported to the Safeguarding Officer who will consider what is the appropriate action to take , including contacting the Police.

Children, young people and parents will be informed that if they have concerns about inappropriate or intrusive photography, these should be reported to the event leader and recorded and managed in the same manner as other child protection concerns.

All concerns regarding inappropriate or intrusive photography should be reported to the appropriate individual within the Church and any relevant external agency.

Guidelines for publishing images

Always ask for parental/carer permission to use an image of a child/young person. This ensures that parents/carers are aware of the way the image of their child is representing the Church. A Parent/Carer and Child Permission Form is the best way of achieving this and can be done at the beginning of the session.

Ask for the child/young person’s permission to use their image, where they are of an age to give informed consent. This ensures that they are aware of the way the image is to be used to represent the Church. A Parent/Carer and Child Permission Form is the best way of achieving this and can be done when the child first becomes involved in the event/activity group. A general consent to group and activity photos is contained within the Parental Consent Form for activities.

Think about the level of consideration you give to the use of images of children and young people, for example, the processes involved in choosing appropriate images for the newsletter or magazine. Apply an increased level of consideration to the images of children and young people used on websites.

If a child/young person is named, avoid using their photograph. If a photograph is used, avoid naming the person. Personal details should never be revealed.

The event leader must ensure that delayed streaming of images onto a website takes place. This provides an opportunity for the editing of inappropriate clips (e.g. disarranged clothing).

Anti-bullying policy for children and young people involved in church activities

Statement of intent

We are committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe environment for all our children and young people so they can develop in a relaxed and secure atmosphere. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable in our ________________________ parish/group (name activity). If bullying does occur, all children and young people should be able to tell and be confident that incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively. This means that anyone who knows that bullying is happening is expected to tell the group leaders.

What is bullying?

Bullying is the use of aggression with the intention of hurting another person. Bullying results in pain and distress to the victim.

Bullying can be:

  • Emotional: (being unfriendly).
  • Physical: (pushing, kicking, hitting, punching or any use of violence including via e-mails or text messaging).
  • Racist: (racial taunts, graffiti, gestures).
  • Sexual: (unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive comments).
  • Homophobic (because of, or focusing on the issue of sexual orientation).
  • Verbal (name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, teasing)
  • Related to a child’s impairment or disability may include name calling or ridiculing.

Why is it important to respond to bullying?

Bullying hurts. No one deserves to be a victim of bullying. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect. Children and young people need to learn different ways of behaving.

We have a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to issues of bullying.

Objectives of this policy

  • Bullying will not be tolerated.
  • All adults involved in the activity/event as well as children and young people should have an understanding of what bullying is.
  • All adults involved in the activity/event must know what the policy is on bullying, and follow it when bullying is reported.
  • All children/young people and parents should know what the policy is on bullying, and what they should do if bullying arises.
  • Children, young people and parents should be assured that they will be supported when bullying is reported.

Signs and symptoms

A child may indicate by signs or behaviour that he or she is being bullied. Adults should be aware of these possible signs and that they should consider the possibility that the child may be bullied.  In cases of doubt seek advice from a GP, or another suitably qualified professional.

Prevention

Strategies can be adopted to prevent bullying. As and when appropriate, these may include:

  • Writing a set of group rules.
  • Signing a behaviour agreement.
  • Writing stories or poems or drawing pictures about bullying.
  • Reading stories about bullying or having them read to the group.
  • Making up role-plays.
  • Having discussions about bullying and why it matters.

 Procedures

  1. Report bullying to staff.
  2. In cases of serious or persistent bullying, the incidents will be recorded by staff.
  3. In serious or persistent cases parents will be informed and asked to come in to a meeting to discuss the problem.
  4. If it is thought that an offence has been committed, contact the police.
  5. The bullying behaviour or threats of bullying must be investigated and all bullying stopped quickly.
  6. An attempt will be made to help the bullies change their behaviour.

Outcomes

  1. In serious cases, suspension or even exclusion will be considered.
  2. If possible, the children/young people will be reconciled.
  3. After the incident/incidents have been investigated and dealt with, each case will be monitored to ensure repeated bullying does not take place.
  4. After the incident/incidents have been investigated parents/carers should be informed of the action taken.

Guidelines on managing drugs related incidents

It is vital that the Church sends a clear message to children and young people that the possession or use of illegal/unauthorised drugs during Church activities is unacceptable and will be dealt with firmly, promptly and fairly.

Legal drugs such as medicines need to be managed appropriately and unauthorised possession of a legal drug is not permitted.

Children, young people and their parents/carers should be given written information about possible responses to drug related incidents during events, including residential activities and pilgrimages. Parents/carers will enter into a written agreement prior any event that if their child is involved in a drugs incident and it is deemed necessary to send the child or young person home then the associated costs will need to be met by the parent/carer.

Definitions

Drugs refers to ALL DRUGS including medicines, volatile substances, alcohol and tobacco.

Defining drug incidents

An incident is likely to involve suspicions, observations, disclosures or discoveries of situations involving unauthorised drugs.

It could fit into the following categories:

  • Drugs or associated materials are found on Church premises/during Church activities.
  • A child or young person is found in possession of drugs or associated materials.
  • A child or young person is found to be a recognised source of supply of drugs on Church premises/during Church activities.
  • A child or young person is thought to be under the influence of drugs.
  • A leader has information that the illegitimate sale or supply of drugs is taking place in the local area.
  • A child or young person discloses that they are misusing drugs.

Dealing with medical emergencies involving drugs

In every case of an incident involving drugs, the Church must place the utmost priority on safety, meeting any medical emergencies with first aid and summoning medical help before addressing further issues. If the event leader is in doubt they should seek medical assistance immediately.

In such an event, arrangements should be made with a parent/carer for the child or young person to be collected or escorted home.

In the case of a leader finding illegal drugs

It is an offence for the management of establishments to knowingly permit the supply and production of any illegal drugs on their premises.

The event leader should take temporary possession of any substance suspected of being an illegal drug for the purposes of protecting a child or young person from harm. An adult witness should be present when confiscations occur and a record should be kept of the incident. The police should be called at this time. Parents/carers should be informed.

Further sanctions might need to be applied depending on the drug related issue. For example:

  • Referral to an external agency.
  • Removal from part of an event/activity.
  • Exclusion.

Confiscation of other unauthorised drugs

Parents/carers should always be informed of any incident where unauthorised drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, volatile substances and medicines have been confiscated and given the opportunity to collect the confiscated items, if they so wish.

Responses and confidentiality

The event leader and other leaders cannot and should not promise total confidentiality to a child or young person who discloses drug use. They should seek advice from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer in such cases.

The child or young person might be directed to sources of confidential information and advice external to the event/activity. If other children/young person are affected by a drug related incident which occurs in their group, the leader can re-emphasize behavioural guidelines and ensure that their individual needs are addressed and that they can return to their planned activities as soon as possible.

The event leader should make a full record of every drugs related incident.

In any incident involving drugs, the event leader must involve the child or young person’s parent/carer and explain how the incident was managed and agree a way forward.

Overseas trips

For overseas trips, it is important to bear in mind that the law on drugs will differ from country to country. It is advisable that the event leader is aware of these regulations prior to departure.

Parents and carers should be advised, and their written agreement be sought, if the law of the country to be visited permits drug use which would otherwise be illegal in Gibraltar. If drug use is permitted in the country to be visited, boundaries around the use of the drug e.g. alcohol, must be set with the children and young people within the behavioural guidelines established for that event.

In the case of an adult involved in a drug related incident

Should an adult volunteer/leader be found in possession of or under the influence of legal or illegal substances, the above guidelines should also be applied.

Risk assessment – general guidelines

Risk assessments should be completed well before the event/activity and should be approved by the event leader or, if completed by the event leader, by a suitably qualified individual. If in doubt, seek advice from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. A risk assessment for an event/activity need not be complex but it should be comprehensive.

A formal assessment of the risks that might be met during an event/activity should have the aim of identifying the potential hazards and then reducing them. Children and young people must not be placed in situations which expose them to an unacceptable level of risk. Safety must always be the prime consideration. If the risks cannot be managed safely then the event/activity must not take place.

The risk assessment should be based on the following considerations:

  • What are the hazards?
  • Who might be affected by them?
  • What safety measures need to be in place to reduce risks to an acceptable level?
  • Can the event leader put the safety measures in place?
  • What steps will be taken in an emergency?

The following factors should be taken into consideration when assessing the risks.

  • The type of event/activity and the level at which it is being undertaken.
  • The location, routes and modes of transport.
  • The competence, experience and qualifications of adult helpers.
  • The ratio and gender of adults to children.
  • The group members’ ages, competence, fitness and temperament and the suitability of the activity. (Check consent form for this information).
  • The specific or medical needs of children/young people. (Check consent form for this information)
  • Seasonal conditions, weather and timing of event or activity.
  • How to cope when a child/young person becomes unable or unwilling to continue.
  • The need to monitor the risks throughout the event/activity.

The person carrying out the risk assessment should record and give copies to all leaders prior to the event/activity, with details of the measures they should take to avoid or reduce the risks. Parish priests or leaders of the organisation should also be given a copy so that approval, as necessary, can be given with a clear understanding that effective planning has taken place.

Frequent visits to local venues such as a leisure centre may not need a risk assessment every time. Nevertheless, it is essential not to become complacent. A generic assessment of the risks of such visits should be made at regular intervals and careful monitoring should take place.

The event leader and other leaders should monitor the risks throughout the event and take appropriate action as necessary.

Before booking a day/residential trip the event leader should obtain a written or documentary assurance that providers such as retreat centres or tour operators have assessed the risks and have appropriate safety measures in place, including:

  • Safe recruitment procedures.
  • Adequate public liability insurance.
  • A license to operate (where required).
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for its staff.
  • Safeguarding policy.

Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

The role of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion includes taking the Eucharist to the sick, housebound and elderly parishioners who are not able to come to Mass.

Guidelines:

Being invited into peoples’ homes puts you in a unique position. You are most likely to be their only contact with the Church. Please make their communion as reverent and meaningful as possible and be aware of their needs.

  • When visiting the household, you must remember that you are there at their invitation. It is a special relationship that you have, one that includes a degree of trust on the part of the Communicants.
  • Many housebound people are elderly, living alone and frail. We must be aware of our physical presence and use it to give confidence to the Communicants.
  • Relationships can develop and, particularly where there is no family, you may be trusted with confidential information of the location of valuables. It is recommended that for your own protection, your parish priest be made aware of such instances.
  • Having got to know the people whom you visit, do only what you feel is right and proper for their well-being and, if in doubt, consult with your parish priest or Safeguarding Department responsible for vulnerable adults.
  • If concerned that a person is at risk from harm, contact the Care Agency or Police immediately.

Guidelines for home visitor/hospital visitor

Being invited into peoples' homes puts you in a unique position. You are most likely their only contact with the Church. Please make your visit as reverent and meaningful as possible and be aware of their needs.

When visiting the household, you must remember that you are there at their invitation. It is a special relationship that you have, one that involves a degree of trust.

Many housebound people are elderly, living alone and frail. We must be aware of our physical presence and use it to give confidence to the person.

Relationships can develop and, particularly where there is no family, you may be trusted with confidential information of the location of valuables. It is recommended that for your own protection, your parish priest be made aware of such instances.

Having got to know the people whom you visit, do only what you feel is right and proper for their well-being and, if in doubt, consult with your parish priest or Safeguarding Department responsible for vulnerable adults.

If concerned that a person is at risk from harm, contact the Care Agency or Police immediately.

Any concerns in a hospital situation should be discussed with hospital management.

 

E. RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS

 

The development and promotion of an ethos where children and young people are listened to and valued, and adults are encouraged and supported to respond to allegations or concerns of child abuse is imperative in safeguarding children’s welfare.

All children and young people should be encouraged to talk to parents or leaders if there is anything worrying them. Leaders need to make clear that this is not disloyal, but helpful, and should respond positively when this happens.

Groups and organisations must have in place procedures for dealing with complaints from children and young people who are involved in church activities.

Written information should be displayed encouraging children to share any worries or concerns they may have. This includes details of appropriate independent contacts who listen to children and young people.

This important message to children and young people will be communicated to them based upon their specific needs i.e. language, culture, physical impairment and/or learning disability.

All adults working with children and young people should know the name of an individual or organisation with whom they could put a child/young person in contact to discuss important matters.

Where information about an allegation or a concern becomes known to a Relevant Person, then action must be taken to inform the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee, the RGP or the Care Agency as appropriate so that children, young people and vulnerable adults are not put at continued risk and a proper investigation may take place.

Guidelines on Responding to Allegations

The following sets out what will be our approach when allegations are made or abuse or neglect encountered, and provides relevant guidance to Relevant Persons and Safeguarding role holders.

Key Principles

  • If any person reasonably suspects that a child, young person or vulnerable adult is being, has been or is likely to be abused, action must be taken. To do nothing is not an option.
  • The actions of those who first handle allegations and concerns are most important. They could dictate the effectiveness of a subsequent enquiry.
  • Under no circumstances should the alleged abuser be alerted at this stage, either directly or indirectly. Important evidence may be lost.
  • The aim of the process which follows is to reach a point where the fullest possible information has been gathered. Formal investigations will be carried out by the Police or Social Services. It is only with the benefit of complete information that vulnerable people may be protected through careful assessment of risk, based on fact and professional judgement.
  • The guiding principles for any person in receipt of information about a concern or an allegation should be:
    • LISTEN
    • RECORD
    • REFER
  • Sometimes information will be in the form of observations made by the person recording the allegation or concern.

      Listen

  • Where information is given in person, listen and accept what is said seriously. Do not pre-judge, rationalise, dismiss or minimise. Do not make judgemental statements about any person involved.
  • Be aware that a person’s ability to recount his or her concern or allegation will depend on age, culture, nationality and upon any disability which may affect use of language and range of vocabulary. Do not suggest words, but use theirs.
  • Adopt a listening style which is compassionate, calm and reassuring. If the information given to you shocks, disgusts or distresses you, do not allow these feelings to show. If you do, you may inadvertently dissuade the person from giving any further information.
  • Do not promise total confidentiality. If this is proposed as a condition of giving information about possible abuse, such confidence must be refused.
  • Do not make promises about future events.
  • Explain what will happen next. Indicate who will be made aware of the information which has been given by them. Leave contact details of yourself and any other appropriate person in case the referrer needs to ask questions later.
  • An adult who provides information should be encouraged to share their information, where appropriate with the Statutory Authorities. Support should be offered in doing so. If they refuse, explain that you will have to take advice from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.

Record

  • Whenever possible and practical, take notes during the conversation. Always ask permission to do this and explain the importance of recording all information. If it is not appropriate, make a written record as soon as possible afterwards, if possible by the end of the day.
  • Use the Safeguarding Incident/Concern Report Form – it will help you obtain the relevant information. The record should be signed and dated by the author. Wherever possible the speaker’s own words should be used. It is important to include full details of referrals to Police or Social Services.
  • All original records, including rough notes, should be passed to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer by noon the next working day.

Refer

  • The overriding principle of referral is as follows: ‘If somebody believes that a child, young person or vulnerable adult may be suffering, or may be at risk of suffering significant harm, then s/he should always refer his or her concerns to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer or the Commission and the Social Care Agency.

Concern or allegation

  • Where a concern exists that a child, young person or vulnerable adult may be being abused, may have been abused or be at risk of abuse, such a concern must initially be treated in the same way as an allegation.
  • Refer the concern/allegation to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer promptly so that further action may be considered. If a child, young person or vulnerable adult is at immediate risk, a referral must be made to the Statutory Authorities and then the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer must be informed.
  • Do not alert the alleged abuser, either directly or indirectly.
  • Where a referral is made to the Statutory Authorities by a person other than the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, all information must be passed to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer by noon the next working day and followed up in writing.

Confidentiality and information sharing

  • All information connected with a child, young person or vulnerable adult enquiry is confidential within the multi-agency network. No information should be shared with any person who does not need to know for the purposes of protecting children, young people or vulnerable adults and facilitating the conducting of an effective investigation.
  • Consider:

Does the person NEED to know the information?

Does the person need to know ALL the information?

Does the person need to know the information NOW?

Record what information has been provided and to whom, with reasons.


F. SAFE RECRUITMENT & TRAINING

 

Over the years we have been blessed by the large number of dedicated and talented clergy and lay people (both volunteers and employed) who have given a tremendous amount to the children, young people and the vulnerable in our parishes. Thanks to them all our churches and parish organisations are helping people every day.

We have very few paid workers and so we rely on willing, committed and conscientious volunteers to nurture and lead our young and care for our vulnerable people. It is not always easy to find volunteers. When we have people who will readily volunteer and can find the time to do so, we tend to assume they are trustworthy – and the vast majority of course are. Regrettably, we know that child sex offenders and individuals who wish to have access to children, young people or vulnerable adults for their own purposes will seek to operate in organisations, including church communities, where they believe their behaviour will not be identified.

It is simplistic to assume that everyone shares the same basic values or has appropriate respect for individuals. We have to recognise that safeguards we naturally assume and take for granted need to be deliberately put in place and checked – otherwise we may not be protecting the most easily influenced in our communities as effectively as we think we are. Sadly, even in the best run organisations, it has been known for children, young people or vulnerable adults to be physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abused.

Therefore, conscious of the need for safe recruitment, supervision and support of workers and for developing best practice for direct work with children, young people and vulnerable adults, the following principles will apply.

Any person seeking an appointment to a post (including clergy) that involves contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults, must comply fully with the appointment procedures.

Clergy and Volunteers in roles which have been defined as requiring an RGP check must complete the three stage process – Personal Details, Confidential Declaration and RGP check.

All new volunteers must have a trial period of 3 months, at the end of which both parties review the situation. Inexperienced parish workers and/ or inexperienced volunteers will benefit from clear guidance and support.

All volunteers should have seen and have ready access to the diocesan policy statements and guidelines and know what to do in the case of suspected or alleged abuse: Listen – Record – Refer. Always take any allegations or concerns of abuse seriously and refer immediately.

All volunteers must be aware of the Church’s safeguarding policies and procedures.

Safe Recruitment Procedure

Treat all potential staff/ volunteers as job applicants.

Anyone who is asked or wishes to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity, whether full or part time, must as a first step complete a “Standard Application Form”, a copy of which is available from the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. The application must include:

  • A statement of personal details, full name, date of birth and address together with the applicant’s signature.
  • A copy of the person’s Identity Card or passport to confirm personal details.
  • A resumé of previous experience of relevant work, if any.
  • Permission to contact in writing or in person, two named referees. Details of any convictions, including those “spent” under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, in the form of a Confidential Declaration. (CDF) The contents of the CDF will only be seen by the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer and members of the Commission, or a person who has a legitimate entitlement.
  • A signed agreement to undertake a disclosure enquiry with the Royal Gibraltar Police or other relevant police or authority in Gibraltar or elsewhere, in the event that the person is to be offered the appointment.

References

  • In normal practice two written references should be taken up from two adults who know the applicant well. At least one of these references should (if possible) be from an adult who has experienced the applicant working with children/ young people/ vulnerable adults. The Parish Priest, the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer or any other person involved in the interviewing and appointing the applicant may not be a referee, nor should they be a member of the group the person is applying to join.
  • When requesting references it is important to state explicitly that the job/ role is with children, young people or vulnerable adults and the referee must be asked to comment specifically on the applicant’s suitability for such work.
  • If anything in the references gives rise to doubts about the applicant’s suitability for work with children/ young people/ vulnerable adults, albeit in vague or ambiguous terms, the referee should be contacted to discuss the matter further.

Interview

  • All applicants for paid and voluntary work with children/ young people/ vulnerable adults must be interviewed before being appointed.
  • The interview might normally be conducted by the Parish Priest, Group Leader or the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. As to the degree of formality of the interview, the interviewers should bear in mind the nature of the post/ role, the level of responsibility it carries, whether the post is paid or not and the maturity and experience of the applicant.
  • The interviewers should explore and discuss the applicant’s previous work experience, if any, with children/ young people/ vulnerable adults, the applicant’s understanding of their role in safeguarding practice and their commitment to it. Any responses that give cause for concern must be explored further until there is no doubt as to the applicant’s suitability.

Previous Convictions

  • Ascertain whether the applicant has any previous convictions for relevant offences. Applicants should be told clearly and informed by the application form that the position whether paid or voluntary is an exception to the normal workings of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Normally offences are “spent” after a period of time; therefore the ex-offender can state lawfully that they have no criminal record. There are many exceptions to this, including those who seek to work and have contact with people who are under 18 years old. In this situation ALL previous convictions must be disclosed voluntarily whether the post is a paid one or a voluntary one via a Confidential Declaration Form (CDF). Therefore, to work with children, all convictions, bind over orders and cautions must be informed by an RGP check.
  • When a person is to be appointed to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults, there must be a Criminal Records Bureau (RGP) check. The following procedure must be followed in all cases:
    • The applicant for the job/ role must fill in the Disclosure Application Form.
    • Relevant and acceptable forms of identity must be produced.
    • The Disclosure Application Form will be sent to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.
    • The results of the RGP check will be sent direct to both the applicant for the job/ role and the person wishing to make the appointment.
    • The applicant keeps their copy of the RGP results.
    • The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer will examine the RGP results and will give the person wishing to make the appointment confirmation that the applicant has been cleared for appointment. Similarly, if there are any concerns these will be expressed to the person wishing to make the appointment and clearance will be denied.
    • The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer’s copy of the RGP result will be recorded onto the Church’s database and then destroyed in accordance with any applicable RGP guidelines.

Policy Statement on Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

  • We undertake not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a Disclosure on the basis of conviction or any other information revealed.
  • Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from working or volunteering within the Catholic community. This will depend on the nature of the position and the circumstances and background of your offence(s).
  • The Church is committed to the fair treatment of its staff, potential staff or users of its services, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background; thereby ensuring a safe environment for everyone who engages in activities based within the Catholic community.
  • This written policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders is made available to all Disclosure applicants at the outset of the recruitment process.
  • The Catholic community in Gibraltar actively promotes equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential and welcomes applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records. We select all candidates for interview based on their skills, qualifications and relevant experience.
  • A Disclosure is only requested after a thorough risk assessment has indicated that a Disclosure is both proportionate and relevant to the position concerned. For those positions where a Disclosure is required, all application forms, job adverts and recruitment briefs will contain a statement that a Disclosure will be requested in the event of the individual being offered the position.
  • Where a Disclosure is to form part of the recruitment process, we encourage all applicants called for interview to provide details of their criminal record at an early stage in the application process. This information is sent under separate, confidential cover to a designated person, generally the person responsible for the appointment process, and this information will ONLY be seen by those who need to see it as part of the recruitment process. The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer will be consulted in cases of doubt.
  • Unless the nature of the role allows questions to be asked about your entire criminal record, only “unspent” convictions as defined in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act must be disclosed.
  • In order to protect certain vulnerable groups within society there are a large number of roles, posts and professions that are exempted from the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act provisions relating to the rehabilitation of offenders. These include posts and volunteer roles involving access to children, young people, the elderly, people with disabilities, alcohol or drug misuses and the chronically sick. In such cases, organisations are legally entitled to ask applicants for details of all convictions, irrespective of whether they are “spent” or “Unless the nature of the role allows questions to be asked about your entire unspent” under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
  • Suitable training to identify and assess the relevance and circumstances of offences is provided for all those who are involved in the recruitment process. Appropriate guidance and training in the relevant legislation relating to the appointment of ex-offenders, e.g. the Criminal Procedure and Evidence is also provided.
  • At interview, or in a separate discussion, an open and measured discussion must take place on the subject of any offences or other matter that might be relevant to the position. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to the withdrawal of an offer of employment.
  • We undertake to discuss any matter revealed on a Disclosure with the person seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.

Post Appointment

Vigilance does not end with the appointment. Therefore all appointments should be subject to continued monitoring.

Guidelines regarding allegations of abuse.

All staff and volunteers must be aware of the Church’s policy on Safeguarding and related guidelines.

A summary of the procedures on how to respond to a specific allegation or suspicion of abuse are found in this document. It is essential that all who work with children and vulnerable adults have a sound knowledge of these procedures. This must form part of the ongoing awareness training and supervision of those who are appointed to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Training for safeguarding

It is our policy to ensure that training needs are matched by training opportunities so far as resources allow. All safeguarding role holders will have access to training and development opportunities commensurate with their role and responsibilities and existing level of knowledge and experience.

New recruits and new volunteers should be made aware of and be provided with basic awareness training about the Church’s Safeguarding policies immediately upon commencement of collaboration in or with the Church.

Training courses will be provided “in house”, at times by employees or role holders within the Catholic Church. At other times, it will be appropriate for external training to be accessed.