Guidance on Appropriate Personnel
Those who have allegations of child abuse made about them will be offered access to appropriate advice and support. The Diocese of Meath has in place a child safeguarding structure that provides consistent and effective responses to the safeguarding needs of adult respondents under its jurisdiction.
Respondents have a right to a fair process in the investigation and management of any child abuse concerns. Those recruited to fulfil these roles will be selected following clear criteria and in accordance with safe recruitment practices (1.1).Given the highly sensitive nature of this work, all involved must abide by the highest possible standards of professional conduct in all aspects of their work, including the maintenance of appropriate confidentiality. The Bishop has appointed an advisor who is available to those about whom a suspicion, concern or allegation of child abuse has been received
As indicated in Appendix 1, the role of the advisor is to:
- Keep the respondent informed of the process of the case;
- Help direct the respondent to counselling and support;
- Record any meetings or contact held with the respondent, and report to the DLP as appropriate;
- Uphold the seven safeguarding standards in practice and behaviour.
- Be particularly alert to the sense of isolation and vulnerability that a respondent may experience.
Clarity about the role
- The advisor is not a counsellor for the respondent and should not act in that role.
- The advisor should not act as spiritual guide for the respondent.
- The advisor is not an advocate for the respondent.
- The advisor should not provide any character references for the respondent.
- The advisor does not manage the case file and will not have access to it.
Issues to consider when meeting with respondents
Meeting respondents can be stressful, particularly if there is not an established relationship. Consideration should be given to the following issues:
• Consider a location where both the respondent and advisor will feel at ease. If the advisor has any anxieties about meeting the respondent in their home consider a neutral venue.
• Invite the respondent to be accompanied by a friend.
• The advisor should be accompanied either by another support person or another neutral person who may take notes.
• Advise the respondent of this and of that person’s role.
• If meeting in a neutral venue ensure privacy and confidentiality but also consider personal safety issues.
• If the advisor takes responsibility for identifying a suitable venue s/he should ensure refreshments are available.
Frequency of meetings
The frequency of contact/meetings should be dictated by the respondent and the Bishop but the advisor needs to keep the communication open and initiate contact at least once a year, unless the respondent states that they do not want any contact.
Storage of records
Information regarding meetings between the advisor and the respondent must be stored safely and securely (See Appendix 3).
The following should be used as a guide to information that must be recorded:
• The date and time the meetings took place,
• Any relevant child safeguarding issues that have arisen,
• If the respondent has knowledge of a crime,
• Any requests for support or representations that the respondent wishes to make to the Bishop.
Information regarding the above points must be forwarded to the DLP for placing in the minutes of meetings section of the case file (2.11). It is advisable to share this record with the respondent prior to sending to the DLP. If there are personal concerns about the respondent, for example if they are suffering from a mental health condition or are suicidal, this information should be passed to the DLP who will in turn pass it to the Bishop who will record it in the respondent’s personnel file. The record that is kept in the safeguarding file by the DLP should simply record that a private matter – not of a child safeguarding nature was passed to the Bishop.
Support and supervision
Regular contact between the advisor and the DLP will take place to enable the DLP to keep up to date with the needs and requests of the respondent. The DLP will offer the advisor access to appropriate support and supervision, in order to allow the advisor to receive feedback on their role. If necessary or appropriate, external support for the advisor should be used (See 1.28.- Support and supervision).
All advisors must attend a local full-day awareness-raising programme (1.27 – Basic safeguarding awareness) facilitated by trainers registered with the NBSCCCI. The Bishop will ensure that advisors are given the opportunity to attend training provided by the NBSCCCI, in accordance with the NBSCCCI Training Strategy (1.25). These training needs will be included in the annual training plan produced by the safeguarding committee (1.26).