The Diocese of Guildford has been praised for a ‘positive culture of safeguarding’ in an audit carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
SCIE, a leading improvement support agency and an independent charity working with care and support services for adults, families and children across the UK, has been commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team to provide a programme of independent audits of diocesan safeguarding arrangements for the Church of England.
The Guildford report highlighted many positives, saying that the Bishop ‘takes a strong lead’ in safeguarding and that the Diocesan Secretary, Peter Coles, had given a lot of thought to the management structure. It said that accountability for safeguarding was recognised in the right places, and that the Director of Discipleship, Vocation and Ministry, Hazel Whitehead, had provided a strong interim lead.
"We were delighted to be told that the Diocese of Guildford is a safe place to live and work"
The work of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor, Ian Berry, was praised as ‘highly valued’, and the report stated that he was trusted by everyone who talked with the auditors. The training programme was praised, and the Safeguarding Panel described as having ‘stable external representation and a strong and experienced chair.’
Communication about safeguarding was also described as a strength, with newsletters promoting an approachable image of the team, with the annual safeguarding conference felt by Parish Safeguarding Officers to be ‘impressive’.
The report also identified a number of areas for development, to which a paper of response has been published by the Diocese of Guildford. These included some comments around the strategic function of the safeguarding panel, use of safeguarding agreements and a recommendation to move towards an electronic DBS system.
"We are not complacent and continue to work diligently in this area"
The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, said “whilst we are not complacent and continue to work diligently in this crucial area, we were delighted to be told that the Diocese of Guildford is a safe place to live and work”
Interim Safeguarding Lead for the Diocese, Hazel Whitehead, added “we are grateful to the auditors for raising certain questions, and are pleased to provide our responses, as we continue to work on improving safeguarding in the diocese.”
Read the full safeguarding report and the Diocese of Guildford's response.