Diocese of Chichester Safeguarding

I am worried that my church isn't following proper safeguarding practices

As for other topics in the 'What do I do if?' section of our website, two basic principles help in responding to this concern: safeguarding is everyone's responsibility and the welfare of the child is paramount. (Even if your concern is about an adult who may be placed at risk by the practice of the church that has worried you, it is still the case that these concerns must take precedence over any other consideration).

If you are concerned that your church is not following correct safeguarding practice, you must raise these concerns so that they can be addressed. You may choose to raise them initially within the church itself - either to the parish priest, the PCC or (more likely) the Parish Safeguarding Officer. In any of those cases we would expect and encourage those with whom you have raised the concern to speak with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team to understand what has happened, what can be learned and what needs to change.

If you 1) have already raised your concerns within your church and failed to receive and adequate answer, or 2) feel you cannot raise these concerns as you are concerned about reprisals, you can and should contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team directly.

In this instance, you would effectively be 'whistleblowing' regarding your concerns, and it is important that you know that this is the right thing to do. Your church must have a whistleblowing policy, which is derived from the Diocesan template for such a policy. Making whistleblowing possible is an essential element of effective safeguarding and a feature of safe organisations. You can be reassured that any step you have taken in good faith to ensure that children or adults are safe in your church - even if it turns out that your concerns aren't justified - will be respected. The Safeguarding Team will work with your local church to ensure that good practice is in place and that you experience no negative repercussions regarding your decision to express your concerns.

Safe organisations are learning organisations, and if you raise a concern that is found to be justified, then our normal approach would be to seek to use this as an opportunity for learning and improvement, rather than 'getting someone in trouble'. On occasion it may be necessary to pursue disciplinary action, but the primary concern is for improvement of practice, not targeting of individuals. We hope this reassures you if you are facing the decision about whether or not to express your concerns about your church to this team.