The Church of Scotland has an established policy for managing individuals who wish to become part of a congregation but may pose a risk to others. The Church manages this risk via a Covenant of Responsibilities.
A Covenant of Responsibilities can be likened to a behavioural agreement, whereby a congregational Safeguarding Panel (advised by a Safeguarding Officer) agrees a set of 'rules' and behavioural boundaries needed to pro-actively manage an individual who, because of a conviction or known information, must be monitored in a Church setting. Often these agreements are informed by involvement of the police and criminal justice social work professionals.
The Church of Scotland seeks as far as possible to ensure that everyone who comes to Church is safe, and Covenants of Responsibilities are an important means of ensuring such a successful outcome in some circumstances.
The arrangements that will be discussed in this chapter are anchored in Church Law and have developed through various deliverances at General Assemblies.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide information, guidance and reassurance to congregations on how these processes work, as well as the circumstances where they apply. This information is for everyone in the Church community with an interest in managing those who pose a risk but is primarily aimed at the congregational Safeguarding Panels who are responsible for managing these arrangements in their church.
This advice has been updated to reflect on the needs of the modern Church and builds on the excellent work that was done in this area in previous years. The advice has also been updated to include changes as reflected in the Safeguarding Act presented to and passed by General Assembly 2018 and since amended.
Principles relating to the management of risk are also informed through the Scottish Government Government Guidance in Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) published in March 2022.