Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection in Sacred Heart Parish

Child ProtectionThe diocesan Child Protection Office, working with the Church's National organisation, The Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA), has introduced procedures to ensure that, as far as is humanly possible, children and vulnerable adults in our community are not abused or taken advantage of in any way. Every parish must put these procedures into practice. In the Sacred Heart we have set up a Child Protection Team to do this. This page is designed to answer some of the questions you may have.

Cumberlege Commission Report Published - July 2007

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has welcomed the publication of the Cumberlege Commission’s review of the progress made by the Catholic Church in the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

The Cardinal, president of the Bishops’ conference for England & Wales, last year asked Baroness Cumberlege to chair an independent review commission, consisting of outstanding professionals from the statutory and voluntary sectors as well as representatives from the Catholic Church.

The commission considered the effectiveness of the measures taken since the Nolan Report; it asked whether we have achieved our goal of becoming an example of good practice in the prevention of and response to child abuse; and it also examined the remit and effectiveness of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) which has been the principal mechanism for the implementation of the Nolan report’s recommendations.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the Cumberlege Commission web to open up the Cumberledge Commission web site

Q. Why do we need a child protection team?
Two reasons. First, our world has become more and more aware of the need to protect children and vulnerable adults. All voluntary organisations, as well as statutory ones, whose work brings them into contact with children and vulnerable adults, are obliged to put into place policies and procedures to ensure their safety. The Catholic Church in England and Wales has decided that this begins at parish level and that all parishes must act.

Second, our Catholic Church has suffered a lot from scandal in recent years. We, especially, must not just act to protect the vulnerable. We must be seen to act as well.

Q. Who is the Team?
The team members, appointed by Father Joe Travers, are: Donal Donnelly-Wood, John Hawthorne, Cath Nolan, Jo Shepherd and Susan Stoddart. There are posters around the church and in the hall telling you how to contact them.

Q. Have the members of the Team been vetted?
Yes. All the members of the Child Protection Team have been vetted by the Diocesan Office and have received full Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.

Q. What do the Child Protection Team do?
It carries out the initial assessment of all adult members of the parish whose roles, on behalf of the parish and the Catholic Church, bring them into contact with children and vulnerable adults. It works with the Diocesan Child Protection Office to ensure that those whose roles need it receive the Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.

The Team is also a point of contact in the parish for anyone with questions or concerns about the safety of children or vulnerable adults when they are involved, in any way, in parish/church activities. Where necessary, the team will be able to refer to the Diocesan Child Protection Office.

The Team ensure that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is always considered in future planning and organising of parish activities.

Q. How do I contact the Team?
Either in person, when you meet a team member, or by phone or text on 0792 204 5243 (dedicated line).

Q. Will I be treated confidentially?
Yes. The Child Protection Team will treat everything in the strictest confidence. It is part of the Diocesan Child Protection system and is answerable to the Diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator.

Q. Who does the Team vet?
Everyone in the parish whose parish and/or church work brings them into contact with children and vulnerable adults. This includes, for instance, those who work with the Children's Liturgy, Eucharistic Ministers, people working on First Holy Communion and Confirmation preparation, parent and toddler group organisers, members of POSH, etc.

Q. Who is a 'child' or a 'vulnerable adult'?
The Church's Child Protection Office defines a 'child' as:

"A person under the age of 18 years. All children and young people, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual orientation have the right to protection from abuse".

A 'vulnerable adult' is defined as:

"A person aged 18 or over who, by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness is, or may be, unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against 'significant harm' or 'exploitation'."

Q. I have already received full clearance as part of my job or in my work with another voluntary organisation. Do I need to go through the process in the parish as well?
Yes, you do. This applies to all organisation, not just the Church - each organisation must carry out its own vetting of its own people.

Q. I'm uncomfortable with this and don't really want to be part of this invasion of privacy.
Many people share your misgivings and are reluctant to be involved. Sadly, the issue of child and vulnerable adult safety will not go away any time soon, so we really do not have much choice. If you are in one of the roles affected then you must go through the vetting procedure. If you do not wish to go through the procedure, you will not be able to continue in that role. And all new volunteers have to be vetted before they will be allowed to start.

However, members of the Team have already been through the process and are there to help you. You may not find it as bad as you fear.