Churches Together in Benington and Walkern

St. Peter's Benington with St. Mary's Walkern



We, the people of the Parish of St. Peter, Benington, are concerned to promote the wholeness of each individual within Godís purpose for everyone. We seek to safeguard all members of the church community, of all ages. It is the responsibility of each one of us to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Throughout this policy, where reference is made to children, it also applies to young people and vulnerable adults.


The above statement, and the following document, which contains the code of Practice and the Statement of Policy adopted by the PCC of the Parish of St Peter, Benington, is in line with the recommendations laid out be the Diocese.

The policy stated in this document is not meant to be seen as a threat to those who work with children and young people in the church or wider parish, nor is it to be read as implied criticism of those who give so generously of their time and skills in that work. Rather, it is intended to make even more effective that care and love which inspire all those working with children and young people in the name of the Church or on Church premises (or Benington Village Hall), and to give them confidence and security in doing so.

All parents of children and young people involved in recognised church groups, all Hall hirers of Benington Village Hall, and all others having contact with children and young people in the church community and using the premises, will be made aware of the following policy.


A "young person" is defined as anyone under the age of eighteen years.

"Premises" refers to the church building in its entirety, to Benington Village Hall, and also recognised premises used by church groups for church meetings, e.g. peopleís homes.

"Leader" refers to the churchís recognised leaders of childrenís and youth events.

"Senior leader" refers to the recognised person carrying overall responsibility for a specific sector of childrenís or youth work, i.e. Saturday Club at Benington, Holiday Club and any special event.


Ratio of staff to children / young people

Indoor activities, children under eight years

Staff-children ratios, required under the Children Act:

   0-2 years    1 member of staff to 3 children
2-3 years 1 member of staff to 4 children
3-7 years 1 member of staff to 8 children

It should be noted that the above are ratios of adults to children. On no account should a worker be by themselves with the age group. The minimum number of adults should always be two and preferably three.

Indoor activities, children eight years and over

The recommended ratios for staff-children and young people:
  • up to 20 children and / or young people, two adults (preferably one of each gender)
  • one additional adult for every 10 extra children / young people, or part thereof.

Outdoor activities, under eight years

Staff-children ratios, required under the Children Act:

   0-2 years    1 member of staff to 3 children
2-3 years 1 member of staff to 4 children
3-7 years 1 member of staff to 6 children

Outdoor activities, children / young people eight to thirteen years

The recommended ratios for staff-children and young people:
  • up to 15 children and / or young people: 2 adults (preferably one of each gender)
  • 1 additional adult for every 8 extra children / young people or part thereof.


A safe meeting environment

Safe practice

Communicating with parents

Each parish should:


Relating safely to children and young people

Action in the event of non-adherence to this code of practice

Dealing with an allegation

Early recognition of abuse or neglect can prevent serious harm to children and the break-up of families, by ensuring that appropriate action is taken and help offered when it is likely to be most effective.

What to do if you suspect a child is being abused

Do not delay in consulting with The Rector.

Role of the church's safety co-ordinator

A Child Safety Co-ordinator is appointed by the PCC. The Co-ordinatorís role is to:

  • keep up-to-date with best practice guidelines;
  • be the person to whom anyone who suspects a case of abuse should refer;
  • make contact with the local Social Services, on behalf of the church, when appropriate.

Role of the Bishop's representative, and social workers

The Bishopís Representative must be informed of any report made to Social Services. He / she will inform the Bishop and then discuss the report with the Child Protection Unit of the Social Services department of the appropriate authority. Social workers will then assume a primary role in caring for the child / young person and his or her family. The church will not, and cannot, undertake an investigative role, but may act as a reporting agency.

Dealing with rumour of abuse

A person may report a rumour about a particular individual, rather than a specific allegation. The person who expresses unease should be asked to give their reasons for concern to the Child Safety Co-ordinator. The person reporting the rumour should be asked to think very carefully about the implication for children and for the suspected individual of what they have said. If rumours persist, the Child Safety Co-ordinator should make a report to the Bishopís Representative, who will discuss the matter with Social Services and also inform the Bishop.

Dealing with false allegations of abuse

Those who work in isolated settings with children and young people are sometimes vulnerable to false allegations. If a recognised worker with one of the groups is uneasy about their dealings with a child / young person, or about how their dealings with them might be interpreted, they should make a record of events, sign and date it, and ask a fellow-worker who was present at the incident to sign and date it also. The report should then be given to the Senior leader who should file it, and seek advice, support and, where appropriate, supervision from the Child Safety Coordinator, as soon as possible. Difficult situations should always be referred to the Child Safety Co-ordinator.

Confidentiality and the confessional disclosure of abuse

People who abuse children are unlikely to disclose such practice. However, should a priest receive a confession from someone who has abused a child, in law the interests of the child are paramount. If, allegedly, a crime has been committed, the person making the confession should be encouraged to report the abuse to Social Services or the police.

A distinction needs to be made between the confession of past abuse, and a declaration of intent in the future. In the case of continuing abuse, although the perpetratorís right to confidentiality is important, it is not absolute. It may not be possible to maintain confidentiality if a child may be at risk, or if the person threatens harm to himself / herself, or another person. The lack of absolute right to confidentiality in such a situation should be made clear to the person concerned at the time of disclosure, or potential disclosure.

Welfare of the child, our primary responsibility

The overwhelming consideration must be to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. If a person tells an accredited group leader that they know or suspect thata member of the clergy, an accredited lay minister, a member of the staff or a volunteer is behaving in a manner contrary to the guidelines, then it is essential for this to be taken seriously. The personal cost to someone of making a complaint may be very high and it is important to make the person know they are respected and listened to. The temptation may be to become defensive about the person being suspected or the group they represent.


Basic principles

Any conversation with a child should, as far as possible, adhere to the following basic principles:

  • listen to the child rather than question him or her. Do believe the child.
  • never stop a child who is freely recalling significant events.
  • as soon as you can, make a note of the meeting, taking care to record the timing, setting, and persons present, as well as what was said.
  • a comprehensive record of all the facts, events and conversations must be made on the same day as they occur. Known facts should be distinguished from allegation and opinions. This information may be required for legal purposes.

General points

Helpful things to say

Things to avoid saying:

Finishing the conversation


Contact names and numbers

It is recommended that each group for children / young people using Benington Village Hall adopt similar provisions to those shown here for Saturday Club and other Church events.

Designated church personnel

To be nominated by PCC in first meeting of new PCC year. Term of office to run for one year, with possibility of re-nomination.

Child Safety Co-ordinator: (As per page 1)

To receive reports of breaches of this policy, to give advice, and to liaise with outside agencies. The names and contact numbers of the current designated personnel are posted in the Church porches and in Benington Village Hall.

Note: Except for Childline, contact with the following agencies should be made in the first instance by the Churchís Child Safety Co-ordinator.

CHILDLINE 0800-1111
A helpline for children and young people which offers counselling advice, particularly for children and young people suffering abuse.

NSPCC HELPLINE 088-800-500
National voluntary organisation concerned with protecting children from abuse. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It offers advice, and can direct to other sources of help.

POLICE: CHILD PROTECTION UNIT (Stevenage) 01438-757079

Vale House, 43 Cowbridge, Hertford