Our responsibilities

What are our responsibilities for ensuring children are kept safe?

There is no doubt that the Church has much to offer to the children, young people and the adults who care for them. It is with this in mind that we look to provide a safe environment for all to grow in the love of God.

We need to ensure that all children and young people who are part of our church are kept safe. This involves being aware of and taking appropriate action to protect children from all types of harm.

In this section of the course you will become familiar with the four main areas that each parish should take responsibility for. These four areas can be summarised as people, premises, practice and procedures; the 4Ps as this has become known.

In this next section we will deal with the people, practices and procedures.


In this section we will consider the process for safe recruitment of those who will work with children and young people.

First of all, imagine that you have been asked to recruit someone to help run a work with children and young people in your church. What would you do and how might you go about it?

Jot down an few ideas and then compare your list with the guidelines issued by the House of Bishops below.

It is important that we make every effort to recruit people who are able to work safely with children. We need to discourage those who may not have the best interests of our children from applying; this can only be achieved by rigorous and safe recruitment.
Next, listen to Su Foster and Karen Carr discuss how parishes can ensure that they are able to recruit only those that are suitable to work with children and young people.

House of Bishop's guidelines relating to safer recruitment.

Safe Recruitment (sound file) - Su Foster and Karen Carr discuss what parishes need to do.

As you have discovered the Parochial Church Council (PCC) should take responsibility to undertake the following;

  • Decide on the candidates’ suitability. This is based on their personal qualities in relation to general experience, aptitudes, skills, motivation and willingness to be trained.
  • Check with the Criminal Records Bureau against the specific post.
    As an employer you are legally required to establish the suitability of the applicant in terms of those barred from working with children prior to them entering the workforce. You are liable to prosecution if you fail to do so.
  • Be prepared to say “No” if the candidate is unsuitable. Try to guide any such volunteer to another form of Christian service.
  • Give the volunteer an agreement to ensure mutual understanding of the role.
  • Confirm the successful applicant in post after a probationary period;
  • Ensure safe storage of information: that includes all registration forms, references and confidential declaration forms. They should be stored in a safe and secure place within the parish in perpetuity. Be aware of your responsibility in line with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Having done all of that, what would happen if a CRB check shows that someone has a conviction? Would you know what you should do?

You might be surprised what can end up on someone’s CRB record, even speeding offences can appear on a CRB check. However more serious offences will mean that someone will need to decide if this presents a barrier to that person working with children and young people.

Read the following extracts from the Safe Recruitment policy and think about how you might deal with such an incident in your church.

Procedure for dealing with a Blemished Disclosure 

Note, the Church has a duty of care to support and help ex-offenders. However it has a primary duty of care to keep children safe. There are very clear guidelines that must be followed before an ex-offender who may be a danger to children can become part of the Church. The vicar should seek advice and support.

Practice and Procedures

Safeguarding children has attracted a lot of attention and has lead to the publication of a number of policy documents and guidelines for good practice. However, all of the hard work that went into drawing these up will be for nothing if individuals do not read and apply them to their work, week by week within their own churches.

Below are a number of links to all of the major National Church and Manchesterl Diocese documents. Do not worry, you do not have to read them all at once, but you should become increasingly familiar with them over time.

It is useful to download a copy of each of these and save them on your own computer hard drive.

In addition, you own Parish will have drawn up a safeguarding policy and procedures: do you have a copy of those? If you do not, make sure you ask your vicar or local safeguarding co-ordinator for a copy.

Church of England - Safeguarding page and documents

You will find here the national guidance on what to do if you think a child is being abused. We will go through this in more detail in the next section

What to do if you are worried that a child is being abused
Ask yourself: "Given all that I have discovered, is my Church safe for children?"

The following short video is called “Kids are safe here”. Watch this and see if you think the same could be said about your church. 

Questions you must answer to complete your training

Please answer the following questions by putting a ring round the correct answer on the answer sheet given to you by your child protection officer. When you have completed all 10 questions return the answer sheet to the officer for marking.

Question 3

One of your Sunday School teachers has just left the church. You really need someone to take their place quickly. What do you do first?

a. Advertise the need for a new Sunday School leader on your Church notice board asking them to come along and see how it works next Sunday
b. Work as a team to publicise the need and seek applicants for the role and decide how you will assess their suitability
c. You have someone new in the congregation who was a teacher, you are sure they would do it if you ask them nicely
d. One of the existing Sunday school teachers says they have a friend who has always wanted to work with children, ask that person to ask her friend to come and be a teacher.

Question 4

Someone asks you whether they can help lead the Junior Church if they have a criminal conviction which would turn up on their CRB. What would you say?

a. You say “Thanks for letting us know; Can you fill in the CRB form, but let’s get you started anyway.
b. You ask them to tell you what the issue is and you will make a decision.
c. You say "No – Sorry you can’t help."
d. You say that they should follow the process, fill in the CRB form, and the diocese will advise when they have seen the CRB disclosure.

Now move on to the next section, What to do if you are worried.