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Safeguarding Guidelines

2024 Safeguarding Guidance

The Derby Diocese have now issued their guidance document for bell ringers regarding safeguarding.  Janet Foulds and Clive Thrower have been in dialogue with the diocesan team for more than two years assisting them in the production of this document.  The application of DBS checks and training is comparable to most other posts in the Church, and we commend it to members to give their support to its implementation.  Since the Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO) and the Tower Captain are jointly responsible for ensuring the DBS and training is carried out the PSO will share this personal data with the Tower Captain.

Janet and Clive hope that each of the Association districts will invite them to attend one of their district meetings during 2024 to answer member questions in so far as they are able to, and take back to the Diocesan Team member questions and concerns that are not covered in the document.

Janet Foulds (DDA Safeguarding Advisor) and Reverend Clive Thrower (DDA Vice-president)

Safeguarding and Bellringing

The Diocesan safeguarding procedures are extremely comprehensive and are available on the Diocesan Website. Safeguarding guidance is also available from the Central Council of Church Bellringers.

The Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser and her team conduct casework regarding allegations and concerns relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults across the Diocese. Where the concerns relate to ringers who are known to pose a risk information is shared with the Diocesan Association Safeguarding Officer and relevant tower captain. For obvious reasons this is done on a need to know basis. Where a risk is identified the person may be permitted to ring but only with a plan of careful management, supervision and review. These discussions and decisions take place in conjunction with partner agencies like the police and social care.

The Incumbent and churchwardens have primary responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all people in the tower and elsewhere on Church premises and have ultimate sanction on allowing access to the tower. However, in practice, responsibility for maintaining a safe environment for ringers lies with Tower Captains, Association Officers and those who teach others to ring, hence the importance of DBS checks and training. The responsibility for safeguarding is a shared one and we all have a part to play.

What does this mean for ringers in Derbyshire?

Discussions continue with the Safeguarding Team concerning implementation of the procedures, training availability and content and, where necessary, regarding individual cases. Our challenge has been to ensure compliance with safeguarding procedures whilst ensuring that the very positive elements of bellringing are maintained – openness, welcoming visitors and inclusivity. Ringers do not stay in their own tower – if they have one – but as we know they are sociable, mobile and enjoy ringing at many different towers.

Ringers in Derbyshire have raised a number of issues directly with the DSA and ourselves. In summary:

  • It is important to acknowledge that safeguarding and ensuring good practice has been and continues to be a part of our ringing culture and experience in the Diocese. However, it is important to understand and make explicit what is expected of us.
  • All Tower Captains, their Deputy/Assistant and bellringing teachers / trainers must undertake Diocesan Safeguarding Training, and that training must be refreshed every 3 years. They must have DBS checks, regardless of whether minors and / or vulnerable adults are present at the tower.
    Those responsible for running Association events – District ringing masters should have DBS checks and receive the training.
  • Anyone directly helping with teaching minors and vulnerable adults has to be DBS checked.
  • For towers where minors and / or vulnerable adults are present, at least two DBS checked adults should be present.
  • Ideally, any tower should have three or four DBS checked ringers so that it’s likely that two are present at any ringing.
  • All other people present at a tower do NOT need
    1.  a DBS check,
    2.  a basic disclosure, or
    3.  to give references.
  • DBS checks – CCCBR Guidance note 3 – ‘ For bellringers this has been clarified as being the activity of hands on teaching of children by the group leader or other designated person. In a mixed group other adult ringers are deemed to be a peer group assisting or under the supervision of the group leader. The legal requirement is therefore, confined to those actually physically teaching the young juniors on a regular basis. DBS checks should not otherwise be necessary and in this respect attempts to blanket check all ringers including those supervised by a leader are illegal.’
  • DBS checks are on ‘an enhanced disclosure plus barred list’ basis. Renewal can now be done on line through the Diocesan office.
  • Flowchart – ‘What to do if you have safeguarding concerns’- should be displayed in all towers with relevant telephone numbers available.
  • Adherence to the procedures is required irrespective of whether access is via stairs to the ringing room or if there is a ground floor access. Legally, the ringing room is deemed to be a private space, not a public space.
  • We are asked to keep records of attendance for all ringing activities.
  • Training – Currently, ringers are expected to attend the Diocesan training courses. At present the training is delivered to mixed groups and will not be designed specifically for ringers although does now include some scenarios which are relevant for bell ringers. The reason given for this by the C of E is that training should be delivered to multi disciplinary groups. Further discussion is needed about this.
  • Teaching – It is important that parents of young people learning to ring fully understand the nature of ringing. They should be given an explanatory leaflet and sign a consent form.
  • Visiting groups are responsible for safeguarding within their group. They should be made aware of the DDA safeguarding policy.
  • Risk assessments are church specific. No one size fits all.

Personal comment

It is not realistic to think that ringers will know when someone poses a risk unless told that is the case. We are not expected to confront people – that could be quite dangerous – or undertake investigations, but if worried we are expected to discuss our concerns with the safeguarding team.

Effective safeguarding relies on a number of factors:

  • Awareness of the risks, understanding how someone might use ringing activities to target children and vulnerable adult.
  • Vigilance during ringing activities.
  • Sharing responsibility for ensuring safety in ringing activities.
  • Being prepared to act on concerns and reporting concerns in a timely way.

Reverend Clive Thrower and myself have met regularly with Hannah Hogg, DSA, and her team. Further meetings will be arranged.

Relevant documents

Diocesan Safeguarding Team

The Safeguarding Team comprises of:

Hannah Hogg  –  Head of Safeguarding
Dave Bowden  –  f/t Caseworker
Cath Shipsides  –  p/t Caseworker
Amanda Clarke  –  p/t Caseworker
Sue Griffin  –  Safeguarding Coordinator
Julie Fogarty  –  Admin for DBS
Amanda Sandland  –  Admin for Training
Nick Harding  –  Trainer

Janet Foulds      Rev Clive Thrower    –    February 2024