THE Methodist Church has reviewed more than 1000 past safeguarding cases in the two-and-a-half years to February, as part of its ongoing commitment to a creating safer Church, its governing body heard this week.
A report on the work of the Safeguarding Committee was received by the Methodist Conference, meeting in the University of Nottingham this week, on Wednesday afternoon.
The Church has committed itself to review all past cases since 1950. Of the 1051 past cases reviewed since September 2015, 475 had since been closed. The high number of closures was due in part to an audit of open DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) cases carried out in 2016, it says.
The Church had also carried out risk assessments on 40 individuals in the two years to August 2017, the report states. Four of these individuals were not cleared to continue working, the position of 24 was restricted and a safeguarding contract was issued, and 12 were cleared with conditions. One subsequently chose to resign and another appealed.
The report explains: “The 2017 Conference approved the introduction of safeguarding contracts to replace covenants of care, and we have now introduced new procedures for undertaking safeguarding risk assessments.
“A new pool of approved risk assessors has been recruited for all connexionally commissioned risk assessments who will adopt consistent standards and approaches. At the same time, we have introduced measures to reduce delays in the assessment process as much as possible in order to assist all parties in dealing with matters as efficiently and effectively as is reasonable.”
The Committee had also revised its safeguarding training, including the introduction of online learning, which would be developed for volunteers supporting people on safeguarding contracts. It had also begun to review the selection process and introduce safeguarding training for visiting ministers from overseas.
The number of hours that diocesan safeguarding officers were required to work had been increased and a “professional casework supervision structure” had been introduced. The Methodist Survivors’ Reference Group had met for the first time “to begin the process of establishing trust and confidence” to guide the Church in its safeguarding work.
The report concludes: “We are very grateful to all those who assist with this learning and work bringing their insights, personal stories, and strategic challenges to the way we work. We continue to offer support to individuals in a range of ways including individual casework, independent professional counselling and formal responses.”