The role and responsibilities of the Safeguarding Panel
A Safeguarding Panel is a group of at least three people appointed by the Kirk Session to manage safeguarding matters on its behalf.
The appointment of the Safeguarding Panel should also be minuted and every congregation must have one. The suggested membership of a Panel is:
- The Safeguarding Coordinator
- The Minister
- One or two other Church members with relevant experience
There should be at least three Safeguarding Panel members but there can be more to include key relevant people.
Occasionally the Ministermay decide not to be involved in the Safeguarding Panel because it may compromise their pastoral care role.
Many congregations include their Session Clerk as a member of the Safeguarding Panel too.
In practice, Safeguarding Panels meet as and when required. They must be able to meet at short notice when there is a safeguarding incident.
Safeguarding Panel members require to apply for a Basic Disclosure check and must attend safeguarding training to equip them with the knowledge and skills for their role. More information on appropriate training can be found in Chapter 4.
The Safeguarding Panel will:
- Assist the Safeguarding Coordinator with managing a safeguarding situation in the congregation. Often this will include taking forward actions recommended by the Safeguarding Service.
- Support the Safeguarding Coordinator with the safe recruitment of volunteers to work with children or adults at risk in congregations
- Consider how to manage a situation where an applicant is not suitable to work with children or protected adults
- Ensure that the congregation complies with safeguarding policies and the implementation of the Safeguarding Act 2018
- Consider how to promote good safeguarding practice and awareness-raising training
- Ensure that procedures are followed and records maintained to the satisfaction of the Presbytery
- Ensure safe arrangements are in place for managing those who pose a risk who wish to attend worship or be involved in the life of the congregation. It is recognised that not all individual members of a Safeguarding Panel may feel comfortable with this particular task - it is up to the individual. For more details on the policy and procedures for working with those that pose a risk, see Chapter 6 of this handbook.
It is very important that Safeguarding Panels keep a written/electronic record of their decisions, the reasons for those decisions, fact-finding reports and notes of actions taken. These records must be kept in accordance with the Church of Scotland Data Retention Policy.
Records should always be stored in a secure and confidential place. If records are stored electronically then care should be taken to ensure the network is secure and the records are password protected.
In the event of a disclosure or suspicion of abuse, the Safeguarding Panel members must keep the information confidential. This also means that confidential details about concerns of abuse/harm will not be discussed at Kirk Session meetings.
The Safeguarding Service will advise the Safeguarding Coordinator and Safeguarding Panel in relation to information which can/should be shared.