ROI Child Safeguarding




1. Safeguarding Trust: The Church of Ireland Code of Good Practice for Ministry with Children, approved by the Standing Committee of the General Synod and reported to the General Synod, hereinafter referred to as Safeguarding Trust shall be implemented and adhered to throughout the Church of Ireland in the church’s ministry with children.

2. Each bishop and diocesan council shall ensure that Safeguarding Trust be implemented and adhered to by all parishes, clergy and diocesan bodies within the diocese and in any diocesan activity.


The Standing Committee, on behalf of the General Synod, has overall responsibility for the Church’s Child Safeguarding Policy (known as Safeguarding Trust) and has delegated to the Church of Ireland Safeguarding Board responsibility for implementation. The Representative Body has responsibility, in conjunction with the dioceses, for providing funding to the Safeguarding Board to provide the necessary resources and training supports.


The Church of Ireland Safeguarding Board is authorised and entrusted by the Standing Committee to ensure that those within the Church of Ireland have a special duty of care to Children and Adults at Risk and therefore a culture of collective responsibility to work in partnership with other statutory, community and voluntary organisations is encouraged.

The Safeguarding Board will act in accordance with the basic rights which are embedded in both our gospel values and civil laws and International Human Rights Instruments to protect those at risk of harm.

The Safeguarding Board is committed to learning from experience and by a process of continuous improvement to monitor and challenge the effectiveness of The Church of Ireland’s safeguarding arrangements.

The Safeguarding Board is in place to oversee the implementation and review of Safeguarding Trust. This is a living document and will be reviewed every two years or as soon as practicable after there has been a material change in any matter to which Safeguarding Trust refers and amended as required by the Safeguarding Board. The Safeguarding Board shall advise the Standing Committee and the Representative Body of the outcome of the review and any amendments that need to be made.

The updated policy from this review shall then be presented to Standing Committee for approval.

The Safeguarding Board will ensure that there are training materials developed and that support and training is provided to Diocesan Support Teams so that training can be provided for bishops, clergy, staff, volunteers and panel members.


Each bishop and diocesan council(s) is required by the Constitution of the Church of Ireland to ensure that Safeguarding Trust is implemented and adhered to throughout the Church of Ireland.

Diocesan council(s), through the diocesan secretaries, will be responsible for issuing to the honorary secretary of every select vestry on an annual basis, a standard form which will be completed and returned by the select vestry, confirming that Safeguarding Trust is being implemented by the select vestry in each parish. This is the declaration of compliance.

Diocesan Council(s) will be required to report to the Safeguarding Board on an annual basis (usually by the end of June) that every parish and relevant diocesan bodies have completed the declaration of compliance.

The bishop of the diocese and diocesan council shall ensure that every parish and diocesan body and dioceses in their area of responsibility undertake a Risk Assessment at least every two years and a Child Safeguarding Statement is adopted, and a relevant person appointed. The Risk Assessment will be conducted, and the Child Safeguarding Statement will be drafted in accordance with templates and guidance issued to each diocese and parish by the CPO to ensure compliance with section 11 of the Children First Act 2015.

The bishop of the diocese and diocesan council(s) must set up a Safeguarding Trust diocesan support team. This team will undertake the evidence based triennial audit of the implementation of Safeguarding Trust in parishes and diocesan bodies and put in place a plan for every parish and diocesan body for action arising from the audit, provide support to parishes and diocesan bodies with the implementation of Safeguarding Trust and provide training in line with the Diocesan Training Strategy (see Diocesan Support section for further information). The bishop of the diocese and diocesan council(s) shall determine the composition of the diocesan support team and ensure that suitable people with the appropriate skills are appointed. The work of the diocesan support teams is supported by the Safeguarding Board in conjunction with the Child Protection Officer. The diocesan support team shall report on a regular basis to the diocesan council(s) about their work and shall also submit a report on their year’s undertakings to the diocesan secretary for inclusion in the Diocesan Synod Book of Reports.

The bishop of the diocese, diocesan council(s) and diocesan support team shall put in place a Diocesan Safeguarding Trust training strategy to outline what training must be completed and the frequency of such training (see Diocesan Support section for further information).

The bishop of the diocese shall ensure that a current Access NI and/or Garda vetting disclosure is in place for a candidate for holy orders prior to ordination, or prior to institution to an incumbency or other charge or granted a licence to officiate or permission to officiate. The bishop of the diocese shall attend role specific Safeguarding Trust (Child Protection Awareness training) in line with the Central Training Strategy.


Incumbents and select vestries shall, following the approval of the bishop of the diocese, ensure that within each parish*, there is a panel of at least three people (‘the panel’) trained to implement Safeguarding Trust.

The panel shall include the incumbent or in exceptional circumstances a person nominated by the incumbent together with two other members. The panel should comprise of both male and female persons. Panel members may be working with children in the parish but at least one member of the panel should not be working with children in the parish.

NB A panel member cannot be the spouse of the incumbent or another panel member nor be an immediate relative of another panel member.

*If in exceptional circumstances, due to lack of available parishioners, it is not practical to appoint a panel of three persons and subject to the prior approval of the bishop of the diocese, alternative arrangements may be made for the appointment of a panel, subject to such conditions as the bishop of the diocese shall decide.

Select vestries must:

  • affirm, in writing on the declaration of compliance to the diocesan council annually, that Safeguarding Trust is being implemented by the select vestry in the parish.
  • take all reasonable care that the premises, in which all work with children takes place, and any equipment used for such work, are safe for such purposes and that appropriate insurance is in place.
  • adopt a Child Safeguarding Statement following completion of the Risk Assessment and appoint the incumbent as the relevant person in line with Children First Act 2015.
  • ensure that Safeguarding Trust is a standing item on the Select Vestry agenda and receive regular reports from the panel.
  • exercise reasonable care when allowing use of a church hall or other premises for activities which will involve work with children. All external bodies or tenants must sign an annual agreement accepting the terms of the Common Protocol for Churches relating to Independent Organisations working with children and associated Form of Approval for Independent Organisations wishing to use Church Premises for Activities involving children (see Parish Panel Information section.
  • confirm that the appropriate insurance advised by the Representative Church Body is put in place by the parish insurer.



The parish panel functions as a sub-committee of the select vestry with the membership nominated by the incumbent and appointed by the select vestry. Members other than the incumbent are not required to be members of the select vestry. Lay panel members should be vetted prior to appointment by the select vestry.


  • Maintains oversight of all matters regarding safeguarding in the parish on behalf of the select vestry and report on matters to each select vestry meeting. The parish panel should meet on a regular basis (at least twice) throughout the year. The checklists in the Parish Panel Information section will provide guidance as to matters to be covered at these meetings.
  • Implement and maintain good practice in the recruitment, assessment, training, management and support of staff and volunteers (see Part 3 – Recruitment, selection and management of staff and volunteers). The panel may include others in the interview process where a post requires specialist skills to be assessed.
  • Keep records of all appointments, reports and other relevant documents regarding Safeguarding Trust and audit records such as the accidents and incidents book in case suspicious patterns emerge. Store all records securely in line with General Data Protection Regulations. (see GDPR & Safeguarding Trust guidelines)
  • Follow the guidelines set out in Safeguarding Trust, and in the appropriate statutory guidelines, on how to respond to any safeguarding concern. The panel fulfils the role of Designated Liaison Person/s and acts collectively.
  • The panel will also be involved in managing situations where a member of staff or volunteer has been suspended pending a statutory investigation. Information may come to the panel from outside the parish, as from statutory authorities.
  • Ensure that panel notices (see Parish Panel Information section) and children’s information posters are displayed on parish premises giving relevant information regarding the statutory authorities to whom a concern can be reported. The notices and posters identify the panel members.
  • Advise the select vestry in respect of its responsibilities. Safety and employment issues are normally advised directly to the select vestry but information concerning child protection issues must only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis.
  • Meet members of the diocesan support team to undertake the evidence based triennial parish audit and implement actions required as a result of the audit (see Parish Panel Information section).
  • Ensure that a risk assessment is undertaken every two years and a Child Safeguarding Statement is adopted by the select vestry and displayed on parish premises and the incumbent is appointed as relevant person in line with Children First Act 2015.
  • Ensure all clergy, staff and volunteers undertake regular training. They will be supported in this by their diocese.


The diocesan panel will be appointed by the bishop of the diocese subject to approval by diocesan council. This should be composed of a senior member of the clergy plus two others, with at least one lay member. The panel should comprise of both male and female persons. The responsibilities and duties are the same as those of the parish panel in terms of receiving and reporting concerns. This panel is required to be constituted and to meet under the following circumstances:

  1. Diocesan staff If a diocese employs staff who are undertaking relevant work or activities relating to children, then a panel must be constituted for at least the duration of their employment. The diocesan panel will be responsible for ensuring that the member of staff has relevant training prior to employment and that regular training is accessed during their employment.
  2. Events / camps Where a youth camp or children’s event is being held and serving any area greater than a parish.
  3. Report of historical abuse When a retrospective allegation is made concerning a member of the clergy or diocesan staff, the diocesan panel should meet to support the bishop of the diocese in dealing with the allegation. The Child Protection Officer can provide support to the bishop of the diocese and diocesan panel in their role in respect of such allegation.
  4. Report of allegation When an allegation is made concerning a member of the clergy or a panel member, the diocesan panel should meet to support the bishop of the diocese in dealing with the allegation. When an allegation is made concerning a staff member or volunteer the diocesan panel shall undertake the internal personnel procedures. The Child Protection Officer can provide support to the bishop of the diocese and diocesan panel in their role in respect of such allegation.


The people best suited to the foregoing tasks are those whose occupations, or lengthy voluntary experience, have brought them into contact with children.

Those who have already participated in foundation training in child protection, e.g. nurses, teachers, social workers, probation officers and doctors may be particularly suitable. Consideration should also be given to those who could bring particular gifts and skills to the panel, e.g. those with administrative experience.

Parishes need to indicate the duration of appointment for panel members, perhaps a period of five years which might be renewable, so that the role and responsibility is shared among parishioners.


An Access NI check and/or a vetting disclosure from The National Vetting Bureau which has been assessed as being favourable, should be received for those who have been nominated for training, subject to residence, before commencing training. A person shall not commence training unless a vetting disclosure has been obtained.

The Principal of The Church of Ireland Theological Institute is responsible for ensuring that all its students attend training in Safeguarding Trust prior to their placement in parishes or in any work involving children.

The bishop of the diocese shall ensure all clergy, lay readers, diocesan readers, parish readers attend relevant training in line with the Diocesan Training Strategy.

The bishop of the diocese shall ensure that those in ministry in their dioceses shall receive continuing training in relation to child protection.


The Church of Ireland Youth Department and every Diocesan Youth Council shall implement

Safeguarding Trust.

All Church of Ireland groups (including Mothers’ Union, Girls’ Friendly Society etc.) using Church of Ireland premises shall implement Safeguarding Trust and ensure that their staff/volunteers undertake Safeguarding Trust training, where appropriate, and sign the declaration of compliance annually.


The Children First Act 2015 places a legal obligation on certain categories of people to report child protection concerns at or above a defined threshold to Tusla. These Mandated Persons must also assist Tusla, if requested, in their assessment of child protection concerns about children who have been subject of a mandated report. Broadly, the obligation to report child protection concerns to Tusla is triggered where a mandated person knows, believes or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child has been harmed, is being harmed, or is at risk of being harmed, or where a child discloses to the mandated person his or her own belief that he or she has been harmed, is being harmed, or is at risk of being harmed,

Mandated persons are people who have contact with children and/or families and who because of their qualifications, training and/or employment role are in a key position to help protect children from harm. Mandated persons include professionals working with children in the education, health, justice, youth and childcare sectors. Certain professionals who may not work directly with children, such as those in adult counselling or psychiatry, are also mandated persons. The list also includes registered foster carers and members of the clergy or pastoral care workers of a church or other religious community.

A full list of the categories of people who are mandated persons is available at –

Each diocesan office shall identify those persons within parishes in the dioceses and at diocesan level who are mandated persons by virtue of their roles, as set out in the Children First Act 2015. The diocesan office shall correspond with those persons identified as mandated persons to notify them of their role as mandated persons. The Diocesan office shall maintain a list of mandated persons within the dioceses.


Anyone working with children in the Church of Ireland, whether as bishops, clergy, staff or volunteers should:

  • undertake in writing to show care for the welfare of children;
  • adhere to the code of behaviour for bishops, clergy, staff and volunteers (see part 4);
  • understand how to work safely with children in weekly activities as well as on day, weekend or longer trips (residential or otherwise);
  • have a basic knowledge of the definitions and features of child abuse;
  • know how to respond should a child make a disclosure;
  • report to the panel any concern regarding a child and cooperate in reporting the details to the appropriate statutory agencies. (In the event of the incumbent being implicated the report should also be made to the bishop of the diocese.)

CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER (CPO) The Child Protection Officer (CPO) advises on and supports the implementation of the child protection policy of the Church of Ireland Safeguarding Trust and provides advice and assistance to panels, bishops and other church authorities in relation to the reporting and management of any child abuse issue. The CPO shall be appointed as the relevant person for the Church of Ireland and shall be the first point of contact in relation to the overarching Child Safeguarding Statement for the Church of Ireland. The CPO also assists in the development and review of Safeguarding Trust, designs and delivers training in line with the Central Safeguarding Trust Training Strategy and monitors implementation of Safeguarding Trust. The CPO contributes to the annual report and compiles statistical data, where relevant, in addition to other related tasks.