1.27 Guidance on Facilitating Community Service Orders on Church Property

The Probation Service, an Agency of the Department of Justice & Equality has responsibility for managing Community Service Orders imposed by the Courts. Community Service is a reciprocal arrangement where work undertaken is of benefit to the host organisation (in this case the Church) and may include gardening, painting, environmental clearance and ground work, and of benefit to the Probation Service as it facilitates the completion of Community Service Orders imposed by the Courts. (S4.60)

It is a requirement that all groups working with children in the Church body and/or using facilities owned by the Church body are insured, and that they have a child safeguarding policy in place.

The Probation Service does not work with children in the context of Church based Community Service sites. Adults undertaking Community Service may be placed on Community Service sites that are hosted in Church property. In these instances it is possible that contact with children may occur as an incidental part of the Community Service placement.

Whilst the Church body is the host organisation for Community Service, the general principle is that the obligation to comply with requirements relating to insurance and child safeguarding rests with the Probation Service who are using Church property, and not with the Church body.

  1. It is the responsibility of the Probation Service who are using Church property to ensure that they comply with all applicable child safeguarding and protection legislation and guidelines.
  2. The Probation Service has their own child safeguarding policy and procedures and is responsible for liaising with Tusla, to ensure that the policy and procedures meet the statutory requirements.
  3. The Church body should at no stage assist the Probation Service in developing a child safeguarding policy.
  4. The Church body should have confirmation in writing from the Probation Service that they have a child safeguarding policy in place. It is not the role of the Church body to validate the adequacy of the policy; that is the responsibility of Tusla.
  5. The Probation Service assesses people in relation to their suitability to undertake Community Service. This assessment includes receipt of criminal record/conviction information from the Gardai. If in the course of a Community Service Order new information comes to light the suitability of the person’s placement in the Church will be reassessed in line with information received and this guidance document.
  6. The management of the Community Service Order rests with the Probation Service. People undertaking Community Service will be supervised by the Probation Service (Community Service Supervisor) whilst on site undertaking Community Service.
  7. The Probation Service will not place persons on Church Sites were they know that the person has been convicted of crimes relating to the abuse of children.
  1. Based on information available, The Probation Service will do its utmost to ensure that persons convicted of crimes related to the abuse of vulnerable adults will not be placed on Church Sites.
  2. The Church will have public liability insurance at the Community Service site, to ensure the property is safe for use.
  3. The Probation Service is a Delegated State Authority and operates under State Indemnity. Community Service is an activity of the Probation Service and the activity and those performing it i.e. people undertaking community service and Community Service Supervisors operate under this indemnity. Should a Church Site require further details in relation to this the local Senior Probation Officer can arrange for the details to be issued by the Health & Safety Unit in the Probation Service.