Safeguarding Children Child Protection Policy and Procedures for the Diocese of Meath
Summer Newsletter 2014
Consultation and Feedback Sessions
We are very grateful to the parishes which hosted these sessions already this year – Donore, Drumconrath, Kinnegad, Mullingar and Skryne. With one exception, attendance has been small at these meetings but the feedback is helpful to the Safeguarding Committee.
The sessions and their findings were singled out for praise in the recent NBSC review, while recommending that “consultation with children and young people be built into these parish visits”.
Establishment of a Disciplinary Panel
Members have been appointed; they have had initial training; and they have collaborated with members of the Resource Team in producing a suite of documents which may be used should a disciplinary hearing or appeal become necessary. This panel supports the implementation of Resource H.
Review praises “dynamism, commitment and expertise” in safeguarding practice
The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) conducted a review in the Diocese of Meath in late 2013.
It found that:
“safeguarding children in the Diocese of Meath is a responsibility taken with the utmost seriousness by diocesan personnel under the leadership and direction of Bishop Smith. The safeguarding team has collectively impressed as a dynamic, hardworking and highly informed group. Together they have brought their expertise to bear in developing a comprehensive safeguarding policy and implementation strategy. It is clear from all sources of information reviewed that there is great enthusiasm and determination in the diocese to oversee the best possible practice.
It is evident that Bishop Smith has shown commitment to and leadership in the development of very good standards in the child safeguarding policies, procedures and practices of the Diocese of Meath. The dynamism, commitment and expertise demonstrated by all whom the reviewers came into contact with are highly commended.”
In a statement, Bishop Smith said:
“I welcome the findings of this Report. However we must not be complacent. There is always further work of vigilance to be done to ensure that, to the best of our ability, the abuse of children does not take place. I renew my appreciation to all who have helped us to create in our 69 parishes a place where children are cared for, listened to and loved.”
The NBSC report and the Bishop’s statement are available at www.meathsafeguarding.ie. The report outlines a number of recommendations. A working group is established to oversee the implementation of these recommendations.
CCTV and internet webcasts
Increasing CCTV is used in churches and church properties for security purposes. Under data protection legislation, this impacts the privacy of persons captured in images stored.
The following steps help us to comply with the legislation:
• A notice at the entrance to the building (eg church porch) indicating that CCTV recording is used for security purposes
• Images are retained for a maximum of 28 days (unless the images are retained for the purpose of an investigation)
• Recordings are storied in a secure place and access is restricted to authorised personnel.
A number of parishes broadcast the Mass and other liturgies via the internet. This practice has implications for data protection. Parishioners and members of the public should be informed of the broadcast. In the case of altar servers and children taking part in liturgies, consent from parents is required and can be obtained through the standard ‘parental consent form’ (Resource K).
The full interim guidance on the use of CCTV and internet webcasts may be accessed at Resource J (iv).
A number of visiting priests assist in parishes during the summer months, mostly from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, now studying in Rome. We require the diocese of origin to complete a comprehensive testimonial form, indicating that there is no reason why the priest should not be permitted to minister in Ireland.
The forms are renewed annually and stored at the diocesan office. Without this testimony, the priest is not permitted to assist in any parish in the Diocese of Meath. A copy of the form is available online as Resource C (ii).
What to do if someone discloses abuse to me?
You should listen calmly and compassionately. Only seek clarification on what is being said; do not ask leading questions. If you feel the location is not suitable to continue this conversation, you could invite the person to a more private space. Inform the person that you will be passing on this disclosure to the Designated Liaison Person, Fr Séan Henry, without delay. You should also indicate that the information will be passed on to the HSE and Gardaí for investigation.
At your earliest convenience, record the conversation using the person’s words if possible. Contact Fr Séan Henry to seek advice and ensure he gets a copy of your notes. Any records regarding a disclosure should not be stored in your private residence but stored in the Safeguarding files at parish level.
What if the person does not give many details about what happened and who was involved?
You may feel you have insufficient information but it is essential that, once you receive any information regarding possible abuse, you should contact Fr Séan Henry without delay. He will advise you as to how to proceed; he may require your assistance to contact the person who made the disclosure.
You do not have any further role with regard to the disclosure unless Fr Henry requests any information from you. Fr Henry can be contacted at 046 9431251 and [email protected].