URC responds fully to IICSA report
21 January 2022
Following an initial response by the United Reformed Church (URC) which welcomed the findings of the IICSA report into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings in September 2021, more detailed responses can now be provided.
As core participants of the inquiry, the URC is committed to ensuring that safeguarding continues to be paramount throughout the denomination. The Church’s first response which outlined six-key objectives in relation to its five-year safeguarding strategic plan can be found here.
The IICSA report made two recommendations, of which one is relevant to the URC.
This can be found in ‘Recommendation One’, which highlights that:
All religious organisations should have a child protection policy and supporting procedures, which should include advice and guidance on responding to disclosures of abuse and the needs of victims and survivors. The policy and procedures should be updated regularly, with professional child protection advice, and all organisations should have regular compulsory training for those in leadership positions and those who work with children and young people.
Monitoring of these actions and compliance will be overseen by the Safeguarding Advisory Group on behalf of the URC General Assembly.
All religious organisations should have a child protection policy and supporting procedures, which should include advice and guidance on responding to disclosures of abuse and the needs of victims and survivors:
The URC has a safeguarding policy and good practice guidance document called Good Practice 5 (GP5) which can be found here as well as a Safeguarding Policy Statement that was adopted at General Assembly in July 2021 which can be found here.
Within GP5 there is a wealth of appendices to support churches, synods and the Assembly. All areas of the URC are expected to adhere to the Good Practice guidance, with the support of their Synod Safeguarding Officer and the denominational Designated Safeguarding Lead.
Sections in GP5 include:
- Recognising, responding, reporting and recording to concerns
- The division of responsibilities for safeguarding
- Well-being and pastoral care of those who are, or maybe, at risk of harm
- Work with those who have suffered abuse, offering appropriate pastoral support
- Supporting survivors of abuse
Appendices to GP5 include:
- Model Safeguarding Policy for Local Churches
- Safeguarding incident/concern reporting form
- A guide to supporting those affected by domestic abuse
- A guide to supporting adult survivors of abuse
The policy and procedures should be updated regularly, with professional child protection advice:
The URC Good Practice document is updated biannually, with the next review in 2022. The review is undertaken by a working group which will be led by a newly appointed Safeguarding Policy Coordinator and is made up of individuals from across all areas of the Church including safeguarding and child protection professionals such as social workers, ex-police and those with an education/early years background. The document is reviewed by an external safeguarding child protection professional as part of the review process.
If there are any changes to legislation or best practice outside of the review timescale then addendums will be produced to take effect immediately.
All organisations should have regular compulsory training for those in leadership positions and those who work with children and young people:
At General Assembly, in July 2021, the meeting agreed a Safeguarding Training Framework which sets out the expectations of those in roles within the URC including leaders and those working with children and young people to undertake safeguarding training.
- Download the Safeguarding Training Framework (PDF | 68kb)
The URC has a Safeguarding Training and Development Coordinator who supports synods to ensure compliance with this document.