General articles

Child Protection - Towards October 2009

An update on implementing the new legislation
Prepared by Chris Mew on behalf of the Central Council Tower Stewardship Committee

Readers of The Ringing World could not fail to be aware of the issues surrounding Child Protection which have been highlighted by recent events and resulting correspondence. This article is, however, aimed at updating all ringers and the Officers of Societies and Guilds as to the next steps in the implementation of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

Current position
At the time of writing the Home Office has still to issue its final Guidelines on the operation of the Act which will be accompanied by an instructional video. One would hope this will appear before the "go live" date of 12th October when the first provisions of the legislation kick in. There has been extensive consultation with Government departments and the notes which follow are given with confidence as to the effects on ringers in general and the Officers of ringing societies in particular. The legislation affects England, Wales and Northern Ireland and a parallel Act affecting Scotland should go live in 2010.

Effects on ringers - a reprise
The Central Council was at its meeting in May circulated with a summary of the effects of the new legislation and this was more widely publicised in a Ringing World article (May 1st, pp.457-459). It is recommended this be read as background.
With effect from 12th October 2009 adult ringers engaged on "regulated" activities with children under 18 will be subject to the new law. Regulated activity in ringing is confined solely to face to face teaching with a frequency qualification of 3 or more days in any 30 or, for residential courses, an overnight stay. It should be noted that teaching occasions must be aggregated so that someone teaching in a number of towers or for several societies may come within the criteria. Ringers 16 and 17 years old who are themselves teaching will also be affected. An updated table of effect and responsibilities is appended to this article.
The law requires "employers or users" to ensure that persons used for such activities are not knowingly "barred", that is to say not precluded by conviction or other reason. The church and ringing societies are, for ringers as volunteers, the "users" and the only way to know a person's status is through a CRB check as now. Normally ringers teaching at local towers will have been CRB checked by their parish and this will fulfil the law. Anyone newly taking up teaching after October will need to be CRB checked.
It is important that all CRB check processes where applicable are only carried out with the individual's consent. It should also be understood that any attempt to require CRB checks on persons for which it is not required is illegal and blanket checks are not acceptable.
It should be clarified that the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) will continue to process checks as now and for the time being use existing application forms. The newly formed Independent Safeguarding body (ISA), of which more later, will see disclosures and advise if anyone should be barred. From October it will be a legal requirement for any employers or, in the case of volunteers, users to advise the ISA if anyone is taken off regulated duties because of incident of abuse or concern that they pose a risk. Registration with ISA will not be available until 2010. Both CRB checks and ISA Registration will be free for volunteers.

Ringing societies
The responsibilities of parishes are quite clear regarding teaching in towers under their control but more needs to be said about the new responsibility of ringing Societies (Guilds and Associations being synonymous).
Officers decide whether the activities of their particular Society requires any persons to be CRB checked and ISA registered to support Guild activities. That is not in the home tower context. It may be that the nature of the Society being non territorial or non teaching does not have such a requirement but the majority of societies will do so.
If there is a requirement for which the Guild may be responsible and in the interests of ensuring that Child Protection matters are dealt with satisfactorily at tower level, then the following steps should be taken:
1. Appoint a Child Protection Officer as soon as possible.
This may need a post to be created and may need a change of society rules relating to Officers and the associated responsibility. However, change of rules should not be allowed to delay the key matter of appointing a person to deal with Protection issues.
See CCCBR website for job description.
2. Ensure that the appointed CPO is properly trained.
There are several elements to the training requirement:
(a) familiarity with requirements - guidance notes available on CCCBR website;
(b) Processing CRB checks and ISA registration; and
(c) Understanding issues surrounding child protection and abuse.
Training for activities (b) and (c) can be arranged through "umbrella" bodies which are registered with the CRB and provide such services to churches throughout the country. It is recommended that, in the first place, societies requiring training should contact
Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service,
PO Box 133, Swanley,
Kent, BR8 7UQ.
Tel: 0845 120 45 50,
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website: ccpas.co.uk
There will be fees payable for training and services.
3. Registration of Guild Officers or others for teaching activities.
Negotiate for such officers or others as may need to be registered to cover Guild training activities to be so registered either through Diocesan office via the Child Protection Officer or by an umbrella body such as CCPAS. Using any of these bodies will incur fees.
It may, for example, be that principal Officers are already CRB checked through their home towers and that all training leaders used by the Guild are also so certified. In this case the immediate requirements are fulfilled but care should be taken that ISA registration is secured as the phasing of the legislation requires.
If, however, there are Officers or other Society members who should be checked before undertaking teaching activities, this may be achieved in several ways:
(1) By asking their home tower to arrange a CRB check;
(2) By the Society asking the Diocese to process a check;
(3) By using umbrella body registered with CRB (e.g. CCPAS)
Note that unattached members could not be dealt with under option (1).
In order for methods (2) or (3) to be used it is essential that a Society CPO has been appointed and themselves cleared through a CRB check. This individual is then classed as the "Recruiter" and will process any further CRB applications for other members including Officers. The Recruiter will be the acknowledged signatory on behalf of the Society and will sign that the application is for an activity which is "regulated" and dealing with children. The Recruiter can scrutinise the individual's identification documents, necessary to avoid false identity and fraud, and verify this on the application for disclosure. This will avoid the necessity of sending original documents away.
4. Recording CRB checks/registration for individuals.
The CPO will, besides processing any new CRB checks as outlined above, require to keep a record of such applications and to have sight of CRB disclosures which have been obtained through individuals home towers. The CPO will keep records up to date as proof that necessary checks have taken place. Any disclosures secured on behalf of the Society either through the Diocese or via an umbrella body may, once recorded, may be disposed of. This obviates the need for long term holding of confidential records.
5. Monitor child protection arrangements in affiliated towers and advise as necessary.
Whilst it is the responsibility of churches and PCCs to ensure the law is met for their own ringers, it is desirable that the Society should assist both churches and local tower captains where appropriate. In the interests of using of individuals for teaching activities elsewhere it is also recommended that each Society keeps a register of CRB checked/ISA registered ringing members.
6. Why should Societies appoint a CPO?
It is important for all ringing Societies to realise that there are good reasons to appoint a Child Protection Officer; these may be summarised as follows:
(i) To ensure that Child Protection legislation is complied with
(ii) To ensure that Society organised teaching activities are organised and run within the law
(iii) To meet implications of any Society insurance which may require not only a Child Protection Policy but also a transparent process
(iv) To give reassurance to parents of children entrusted to Society teaching activities and to safeguard those children
(v) To protect the Society against litigation for any breach of the law or failure to safeguard children, which as an unincorporated society, the officers might be liable.

Subsequent phasing of the 2006 Act
With effect from July 2010 new applications for CRB disclosure will be made on new forms which will include application for ISA registration. Individuals' details will be sent by CRB to the ISA and if there is no reason to bar, the CRB will issue a unique Identity Number. The ISA Registration will, unless revoked, apply for life and will not be affected by break or change in activity.
On-line electronic checks of registration status will become available to prospective volunteer organisations although initially few will be registered.
From November 2010 all persons newly taking up regulated activities must be both CRB checked and ISA Registered.
Over a period 2010-2015 existing workers and volunteers will have ISA Registration phased in, those with oldest CRB checks likely to be registered first. Those existing workers and volunteers relying on CRB checks may expect to be re-checked during the transitional period before registration. The CRB will be working with the CRB Registered Body network to manage the process. This means that, unless ringers are newly taking up teaching duties, those holding existing CRB disclosures do not have to pursue registration until invited.

Portability of Registration
Although for many ISA Registration may not materialise for several years, the eventual benefits will be considerable. Once Registered it will be possible to use such registration for any regulated activity with young people whether paid or voluntary. Thus someone registered in their profession as a teacher could equally carry out activities in a choir, bellringing , as a football coach or in a youth club. It will still be a legal requirement for the employer or organiser to check on the individual's registration which will eventually be able to done on-line.

Way Forward
If there is any doubt or question relating to these processes then in the first instance it is suggested that matters be referred to the Tower Stewardship Committee. In the meantime the following four documents are being posted on the Central Council website and may be viewed or downloaded by going to cccbr.org.uk and then clicking on "keylinks" followed by "stewardship leaflets".
Guidance Note No. 3 - Child Protection in Bell Towers.
Ringing Societies and Guilds - Advisory Note on Child Protection.
Child Protection Officer - suggested job description.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 - Legislation affecting church activities (suitable for circulation to towers and PCCs)

Chris Mew
31st August 2009

Appendix to Guidance Note No.3 - Child Protection in Bell Towers
Table of legal and general responsibilities

Activity ISA Registration Location Supervision responsibility Registration Checking by NEW registration ONLY by *
1 General ringing with no teaching involved Not required Home tower or ringing meeting venue Tower Captain or Guild Officers Not required Not required
2 Helper (not Face to Face See note 4) Not required Home tower or ringing meeting venue Tower Captain or Guild Officers Not required Not required
3 Transporting juniors as one-off domestic arrangement Not required
4 Bell ringing teaching YES
See note 1
Home tower Tower Captain Tower Captain/PCC PCC
5 Bell ringing teaching as regular visitor YES
See note 1
Nearby tower on regular basis Tower Captain Tower Captain PCC of visitors' home tower
6 Bell ringing teaching as guild activity YES
See note 1
Towers arranged by Guild (not home tower) Tower Captain of host tower or Guild Officers Guild Officers PCC of teacher's home tower or via Guild/Diocese
7 Itinerant teaching by Guild Officers YES
See note 1
Towers arranged by Guild Guild Officers Guild Officers Guild/Diocese by arrangement
8 Bell ringing teaching BY 16/17 year olds YES for any of activities 4-7 above As above 4-7 As above 4-7 As above 4-7 As above 4-7
9 Transporting juniors as formal arrangement for church or local Guild YES Irrespective of frequency Between any locations to or from a regulated activity Church or Guild as organiser Tower Captain or Guild Officers PCC of Driver's Home church or Guild by special arrangment

Notes:
1. ISA registration required for all activities “regulated” under Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. For bellringing this is face to face hands on teaching, which may involve physical contact, and is carried out on more than 2 days in a 30 day period or, in the case of residential courses, involves an overnight stay. In assessing the number days involved a teacher must aggregate activities carried out at a number of towers or for more than one ringing society.
2. Local practices and Guild organised meetings not involving teaching of juniors do not legally require the presence of ISA registered persons. However, in view of the likely attendance of juniors it is still desirable.
3. Checking of ISA registration status can be carried out by the appointed responsible Child Protection person within the Parish involved or by the Guild. In all cases the permission of the person whose status is being checked must be obtained
4. The term “helper” includes those taking a rope, standing behind and giving informal advice, all under supervision of an accredited person.
5. * Body responsible for the NEW registration/CRB checking of an individual who is not already registered for another activity (e.g. as a school teacher). Remember registration is portable between activities

Guidance Note 3 – Appendix 27th August 2009. GN3App

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