Allegations against volunteers, staff, and those in positions of leadership and pastoral responsibility
Allegations may be made against volunteers, staff and those in positions of leadership and pastoral responsibility, currently working with children or protected adults.
Allegations can come from any source, from children or young people, adults, parents, other members of staff, members of the general public, or external professionals such as police, NHS services, social work and third sector organisations.
Some allegations may be historical, against individuals no longer working with children or protected adults.
Serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of any child or protected adult should always be reported to the police and/or social work department in the first instance. The Safeguarding Service should be notified as soon as possible thereafter or immediately if there is any doubt about whether the concern constitutes a child or adult protection matter that needs investigation. A timely response is crucial to preserve evidence if a crime is suspected.
Kirk Sessions, Presbyteries or other employing agencies of the Church may also have to consider the person's employment or role, at the same time as responding to the child or adult protection concern.
It may be necessary to immediately suspend the person, or remove them from their role, pending an investigation. This will depend on the nature of the allegation and could be for one or more of the following reasons:
- To avoid further possible risk to children or adults
- To avoid possible risk of further allegations against the member of staff
- To prevent contamination or destruction of evidence
Advice on whether these steps are necessary must be sought from the Safeguarding Service and/or Law Department, line managers if relevant, and the Human Resources Department if relevant. This step should be taken at the earliest opportunity to ensure that risk is reduced and/or managed and that the person is appropriately supported throughout the process.
Click on the headings below for more information.
Referral to Disclosure Scotland
If an organisation or employer has employees or volunteers undertaking regulated work, they have a duty to report any harmful behaviour that might affect whether the person is allowed to work with children or protected adults.
If the Safeguarding panel or employing agency becomes aware that a person has done one or more of the following:
- Harmed a child or protected adult
- Placed a child or protected adult at risk of harm
- Engaged in inappropriate conduct involving pornography
- Engaged in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature involving a child or protected adult
- Given inappropriate medical treatment to a child or protected adult
they must advise the Safeguarding Service as soon as possible, even if the actions happened outwith the Church and even if the information is historic.
The employer must make a referral to Disclosure Scotland explaining what has happened.
This only has to be done if the harmful behaviour described above has meant that the person involved:
- Was dismissed as a result
- Would have been dismissed but left before they could be (resigned)
- Was transferred permanently away from work with children or protected adults.
When someone is not suitable or becomes unsuitable to work with children or adults
No matter how rigorous our ‘safe recruitment’ processes may be, occasionally there will be situations where a person becomes unsuitable to continue working with children or adults. This may be because they demonstrate behaviour that could be regarded as criminal or lacking in appropriate boundaries, is dishonest or demonstrates negative attitudes towards vulnerable groups in society.
A person may become unsuitable because of their actions whilst working/volunteering for the Church or because of their behaviour or actions outwith the Church.
Usually, these situations are managed by the congregation’s Safeguarding Panel or the employing agencies of the Church.
Who makes a referral to Disclosure Scotland?
It is the responsibility of the Safeguarding Service or Human Resource Departments of the Church to make a referral to Disclosure Scotland. Making a referral is very important.
Failure to refer an individual may mean that an individual who is unsuitable to do regulated work does not get barred from doing that type of work and can go on and harm other vulnerable people in other settings.