Church in Wales launches new safeguarding policy after report into failings

Archbishop John Davies said churches must be "safe places".

The Church in Wales has launched a new safeguarding policy that it says will make guidelines "clearer and more accessible". 

The policy, launched on Friday, commits the Church in Wales to becoming a "safe church" for all. 

"Those who work for and support the church, both lay and ordained and whether volunteers or paid, are crucial to ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect and valued at all times, whether they be children, adults at risk, adults who are vulnerable in the Church context, survivors of abuse or offenders," it reads.

"The Church in Wales has a responsibility to ensure that all church members, including those who work in the church, are cared for and protected by providing effective training and appropriate support. To this end the Church in Wales is committed to being a Safe Church."

The launch of the policy follows a report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) last month which said that "further improvements" were still required in the Church's approach to safeguarding.

In particular, the report cited flaws in the area of record-keeping, which the Inquiry said appeared to be "almost non-existent and of little use in trying to understand past safeguarding issues".

"Provincial safeguarding officers lack the capacity to fulfil the wide range of tasks assigned to them and need additional support," the IICSA report said.

"The obligation to comply with advice from the Provincial Safeguarding Panel must be reinforced, and monitored for noncompliance."

Commenting on the new policy, the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, said it was intended to be a "living document" that would be regularly updated.

"The Church in Wales is fully committed to ensuring the highest standards of behaviour in its work with both children and vulnerable adults," he said.

"We have a duty to protect all such individuals who come to us, and our churches must be safe places where they are never exploited or harmed in any way whatsoever.

"We have to exercise vigilance so as to ensure that our work with them provides the level of care and protection which they have a right to expect.

"This work is underpinned by our safeguarding policy, a living document which will be regularly refreshed and updated as needs arise and sets out a framework and guidance for all who exercise a ministry with the young and the vulnerable.

"I hope that it will enable the work of all those involved in safeguarding across the Church in Wales to exercise a loving, caring and supportive responsibility in this vital area of church life."

The launch of the updated safeguarding policy, available to view online, coincides with a new online safeguarding awareness course for people in the Church of Wales.

The course, created by St Padarn's Institute, covers subjects like how to recognise signs of abuse and what to do if abuse is suspected.