An independent audit report has been published looking at safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese of Sheffield
20th April 2017
The report concluded that the pace of change within the Diocese over the past year has been very impressive. The Diocese is realistic and honest about where it has come from in safeguarding terms, where it is, and where it needs to go. It was singled out that the appointment of a full-time Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (DSA) in January 2016 was the turning point in the journey.
The independent audit was carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), a charity and leading improvement support agency specialising in safeguarding. Auditors from SCIE were impressed with the safeguarding expertise the Diocese has recruited, not just in its Safeguarding Adviser, but also in the chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group, who is hugely experienced at a senior level in safeguarding.
The Archdeacon of Doncaster, who serves on the diocese’s Safeguarding Panel, said:
“The world of safeguarding nationally has been experiencing a period of important and sometimes rapid change. The Church of England is determined to offer a secure environment in which we can all thrive, and which earns the confidence of all who are entrusted to our care. The Sheffield Diocese is better placed than ever to provide training, support and back-up to parishes in developing best practice, and to offer a safe place to individuals who deserve to be carefully listened to and protected. The SCIE audit is helping us to implement key priorities in shaping a caring pastoral environment that reflects the highest possible standards. This will be a continuing journey as we monitor our progress and aspire to deliver best practice in every parish. I would like to record my thanks especially to Linda Langthorne (DSA) and Sandie Keene (Lay Safeguarding Chair) whose knowledge and experience ensure excellence in managing and developing our safeguarding policies.”
The report states that the self-audit of 175 parishes was a vital exercise in getting baseline information to improve from; and an indicator of the importance given to safeguarding at a senior level. The findings also state that the Diocesan Secretary understands the importance of safeguarding and has acted quickly to improve the safeguarding service offered by setting up a contract with CCPAS*.
Sandie Keene, Independent Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group, said:
“I really welcome this report as it highlights not only how much progress has been made, but also that the Diocese is in an excellent position to now build on its strengths and strive for excellence. As Independent Chair, it has been a pleasure to work alongside colleagues that are determined to improve where gaps have been identified in the ongoing journey to making the church a safer place for everyone.”
It was also noted how the Diocese and Sheffield Cathedral now work in close partnership on Safeguarding development and management. The Safeguarding Officer for the Cathedral has a place on the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group and the DSA is training Cathedral staff.
Some areas were highlighted for further development by the Diocese. There remains a backlog in the numbers of people who require training. Since the audit took place, a new full-time Safeguarding Training Officer has been appointed and a training plan has been developed. The national online level one training should also help with this backlog when it becomes available. The report also recommended that the safeguarding functions of the Diocese would benefit from a dedicated administrator. Again, since this audit took place, a part-time Safeguarding Administrator has been recruited. It was also flagged up that the diocese must improve its communications with parishes, particularly around adult safeguarding.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has been commissioned to undertake an audit of the safeguarding arrangements of each diocese of the Church of England. The aim of these audits is to work together to understand how safeguarding is working in each diocese, and to support the continuing improvements being made. The audit process in each diocese involved examination of safeguarding leadership arrangements, local policies and practice guidance, the quality of case work, recruitment and training. The auditors also looked at the progress being made in reaching nationally agreed standards, informed by central House of Bishops approved policies. An action plan has been produced and agreed by the Diocesan Safeguarding Group to address some of the findings of the report.
Anyone who is affected by a safeguarding issue, particularly in light of this report, should feel free to come forward in confidence and they will be listened to. Details of how to report concerns and find support can be found here.
*CCPAS (Churches Child Protection Advisory Service) is an organisation that offers additional administrative support on safeguarding matters and is used when to cover holidays and other downtime. This allows a continual period of safeguarding cover for parishes. It also administers DBS applications for the Diocese.