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Child Protection Policy

The following policy and procedures are in place to ensure that the PCC meets its obligations to safeguard children who attend anything which takes place in the name of our church, whether or not on church premises.

St Mary’s Church Shirehampton is committed to working within the Principles of the House of Bishop’s Policy for Safeguarding (contained within 'Protecting All God's Children 2010'), the requirements of Working Together 2015, and the Care Act 2014.


Our policy reflects the fundamental principles of The Children Act 1989 that ‘the welfare of the child is paramount’.  Churches have a role in preventing abuse by adopting sound policies and procedures, not only on the management of situations where there is suspected or disclosed abuse, but also on the recruitment and support of staff working with children, whether paid or unpaid, and maintaining appropriate staffing levels (ref: Working Together under The Children Act 1989)

Our child protection training and guidance is an integral part of our church work and seeks to support the PCC and all those who work with children.  The crucial importance of this aspect of our work is recognised through the fact that this training is regarded at St Mary’s as mandatory for the above groups of people. 

We attach equal importance to our work with vulnerable people and training for this purpose.



  1. To encourage everybody to be assertive and to develop a positive self-image.

  2. To provide a clear model for everyone working with children for managing cases of suspected or disclosed abuse.

  3. To equip everyone with the skills and resources to make reasoned, informed choices in relation to personal safety.

  4. To keep the PCC and all those in close contact with children well informed about all relevant issues.

  5. To provide a model for open and effective communication between our Priest-in-Charge, all members of the congregation, our visiting teams, the PCC, agencies involved with our church and all other visitors to our church.




In the foreword to ‘Protecting all God’s Children’, 4th edition 2010, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York commend to parishes this report which covers the development of good practice and the need to respond carefully and appropriately to concerns where they arise.  They comment that our children deserve the best care and teaching the church can provide   ….. and we need to provide a safe environment for both children and the adults

who care for them.

The PCC also takes account of issues raised and information provided by the Diocese of Bristol safeguarding group.


The aims and objectives of the work of St Mary’s Shirehampton with children are to help them to develop into a mature Christian faith through the building of safe relationships with older people, in a safe environment.

We need to make sure that children are kept safe by ensuring that we accept the prime duty of care placed upon the clergy and the PCC and that:

  • We will respond without delay to any complaint made which suggests that a child may have been harmed, co-operating with the police and local authority in any investigation.

  • We have a named Safeguarding Officer who will take responsibility for policy and procedures and ensure that any concerns are appropriately reported.  This person will also take the role of children’s advocate.

  • The building is as safe as possible.  The Health & Safety Officer, the Priest-in-Charge and the PCC will consider the risks of accident which may be present and when accidents do happen lessons are always learned and the same risks do not occur again. 

  • All those authorised to work with children or likely to be alone with them and all in positions of authority are recruited in line with St Mary’s Policy for Safer Recruitment, appropriately trained using the current diocesan training plan and supported to deal with any issues of abuse or disclosure which may occur.

  • All those people in the above categories are properly checked through references and the DBS process.

  • Any organisations and individuals who use church premises are aware of our policy to keep children and safe from harm.  Particular attention will be paid to organizations which are not otherwise vetted.

  • At events in the church, organized specifically for children, but not services of worship, non-participants are not allowed to attend unless they are:

    • Parents, carers or family members of children taking part.

    • People connected to the church there to perform permitted acts such as working in the office, serving in the kitchen or carrying out maintenance work.

    • People wishing to visit the memorial chapel but these must be monitored by a church officer or a member of the PCC.

Action to control this requirement is the responsibility of any church officer or PCC member in attendance or, if none present, any of the persons running the event.

  • We create a culture of informed vigilance which takes children seriously.

  • We will challenge any abuse of power, especially anyone in a position of trust.

  • Anyone known to us as likely to pose a threat or is known to have offended against children is effectively managed through pastoral care and support, including supervision and referral to the proper authorities, and monitored, with an up to date contract in place.

  • Appropriate health and safety policies and procedures are in place.

  • Appropriate insurance cover is in place for all activities undertaken in the name of the parish.

  • We pay particular attention to children or adults with special needs and children from ethnic minorities to ensure their full integration and protection within the church community.

  • We provide support, as appropriate for all parents and families in the congregation.

  • The clergy and PCC review the implementation of the child protection policy, procedures and good practice, at least annually.

  • Everyone will know who the Child Protection Officer and the Parish Safeguarding Officer is, so that if anyone has a concern they will approach either of these persons to discuss their concerns in confidence.

  • A person’s right to confidentiality is respected and only people who ‘need to know’ have details of any abuse to a child.

  • St Mary’s Church has produced a Children’s Charter which is given to members of the church family and visitors and which we intend shall form the basis of the way we relate to children within our church.


The ethos of our church supports touching all members of our community in appropriate ways to offer approval, reassurance or comfort.  All permissible forms of physical contact can be used provided they are initiated by the child, in accordance with legal definitions and these are considered to be positive acts of caring.

If anyone has to use physical restraint on a child or vulnerable person in order to ensure their safety or the safety of others, this must be reported to the Parish Safeguarding Officer or Priest-in-Charge and will be recorded.


In all these aims we will follow legislation, guidance and recognised good practice.



A Broad Definition of Abuse:

This falls into four categories

Neglect - failing to provide the things needed for a child to grow.

Physical Abuse - being physically violent towards a child or vulnerable person.

Sexual Abuse - exploiting a child or vulnerable person sexually.

Emotional Abuse - making a child or vulnerable person feel unwanted, ugly, worthless, guilty and unloved.


In cases of abuse the first question must always be:

Is the child safe?






Principles of intervention

Reasonable, informed and calculated risk taking play an important part in contributing to the quality of life of both young and old; this is a matter of choice, demonstrating an individual’s right of self determination and autonomy. However, where the health, safety and well being of children are seriously threatened as a result of self-neglect or abuse by others, there is a commitment to make every effort to identify, prevent or minimise such risks. In exercising these responsibilities we must be aware of, and sensitive to, an individual’s ethnic origin, culture, religious beliefs, gender and sexual orientation.


Where a child appears to be at risk, every reasonable effort should be made to identify the specific problems or dangers. The concerns should be discussed with the individual and also relatives and others providing care and support, and where possible agreement reached on actions which will reduce the risk to an acceptable level, taking into account the chosen lifestyle of the family concerned.


Where direct intervention in a child’s life is required because of the level of risk to which he or she is exposed, or because of the limitations on his or her capacity to make informed decisions, the intervention should be at the level necessary to ensure appropriate and sensible protection is provided. In these circumstances the involvement of an advocate should also be considered to help protect the interests of the child concerned.


Where abuse has been identified it may be necessary to take immediate action to prevent or stop it. This might include ensuring that the alleged abuser no longer has access to the vulnerable child concerned. Where it appears that an offence has been committed against a vulnerable child who is unable to make informed decisions and that child remains in danger of physical harm, the Officer for Vulnerable Children must be immediately notified.


Allegations of Previous Abuse

Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event by a child who was abused at an earlier age; the Officer for Vulnerable People must be immediately notified.


When someone wants to confide in you:


  • Be accessible and receptive

  • Listen carefully and only use ‘open questions’ to clarify.  Let the child talk and only ask the questions you need to know to clarify immediate safety

  • Take it seriously and reinforce this to the child.

  • Re-assure the child that they are right to tell someone

  • Negotiate getting help - tell the child you are getting help for them/and their family - prepare them for the fact that you must involve others.

  • Explain that you cannot protect them personally, but that you can support them by telling the right people so that the abuse stops.

  • Report all suspicions or disclosures immediately - there will not be a convenient time, do it at once.

  • Make careful records of what was said immediately.  Use the child’s own words and include anything you asked.  Keep any handwritten notes to give to the Child Protection Officer.


  • Jump to conclusions.

  • Encourage the child’s disclosure, don’t ask leading questions.  The child should never be interviewed repeatedly and the police/social services interview will form the basis of future evidence.

  • Speculate or accuse anyone

  • Ever ask leading questions such as ‘Did mummy/daddy do that?’ or ask questions requiring only a yes/no answer.

  • Make promises you can’t keep

  • Ever assume that anyone can’t have done what a child says they have done


Points to bear in mind when monitoring and recording:


Differentiate between a ‘one-off’ incident that requires immediate attention and lower level concerns that build up over time to form a picture.

Remember observations can take place

  • over time

  • in different settings

  • and can be shared between people


Make a written note of details as soon as possible; as you are then more likely to be accurate in recalling events later.

There is no such thing as ‘gut feeling’ in child protection, it must be based on sound professional judgement.

Remember it is the role of the police and social services to investigate.  It is not your role.


Procedure for the appointment of staff whether paid or unpaid:

  • This is in line with St Mary’s policy for safer recruitment.

  • The PCC is responsible for all those working in church - paid or unpaid

  • Application forms must be filled in for all posts in church. 

  • References will be asked for and taken up

  • All those having contact with children will need to have clearance from the DBS.  This will be done through an enhanced check.

  • Training will run at least every two years for new people.

  • Annual updates will be offered

  • PCC members will be expected to attend an annual training evening and update.

  • The responsibilities of the church towards people working in paid or unpaid posts will be made clear.

  • The PCC will endeavour to support, at all times, all those carrying out roles within the church.

  • The Clergy and Child Protection Officer will work towards providing job descriptions for all roles in our church bringing people into contact with children and vulnerable people; whether or not these are paid roles.  These will be endorsed by the PCC and people will be offered an annual opportunity to review their roles.

If there is any further information you require please contact the Safeguarding Officer for children or the Parish Safeguarding Officer – contact details can be found on the notice board in the porch.


This policy stands for all staff and volunteers recruited by St Mary’s Church Shirehampton


Other policies at St Mary’s related to safeguarding.

  • Protection of vulnerable adults

  • Safer recruitment

  • Fair recruitment of ex-offenders

  • Handling DBS information

  • Domestic abuse

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