Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Safeguarding Committee

The report was delivered by the Vice-Convener Ranald Mair started his presentation by reminding the General Assembly of the road travelled by this committee since 1997 when it was decided that every parish church should be a safe environment for all, children, vulnerable, adults and the elderly. Since then the Safeguarding Committee has travelled a long road. Currently there are 18000 volunteer safeguarding coordinators and 65 trainers across Scotland. Courses in safeguarding are also regularly offered to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding issues. Mr Mair described changes to the current procedures for providing discloser for people who through the nature of their work or volunteering activities are in constant contact with either children or vulnerable adults. There changes will move towards the establishment of a “disclosure passport” instead of the current system of multiple disclosure procedures. These changes, he said are in alignment with current governmental practices.

Mr Mair then presented an update of the implementation of the report Forgiveness and Proportionality. This report seeks the safe inclusion of sex offenders who have paid their debts to society into the church. The vice-convener spoke with passion of the advantages of safe inclusion and of the need to inform parish churches of the way to proceed with inclusion in a safe and sensitive manner. The report addresses the theological and practical issues of forgiveness and proportionality for sex offenders wishing to worship in Church of Scotland congregations. The report offers the theological inspiration for practical advice on the duty of accepting sex offenders who seek to worship while at the same time recognises the importance of affording protection to children and adults at risk. This report will undoubtedly inform the policy and practice of the church in relation to the inclusion of sex offenders in congregations. Through the work involved in the preparation of the report, and the work of the safeguarding office and its Disclosure procedures, The Church of Scotland is seen as an integral part of public protection in Scotland” concluded Mr. Mair.

The discussions centred on the need to develop a disclosure passport vs. current practices of multiple disclosures. It was evident throughout the discussion, the extreme care that the church of Scotland places on creating a safe environment for all who visit church buildings.


  1. From this I get the impression that currently/preciously the Church of Scotland don't/didn't accept previously convicted sex offenders into membership. Is this correct? if so, what measures are/were taken to check this?

  2. Prior to the development of the Policy and Code of Practice for Church of Scotland regarding how to manage sex offenders who want to worship in church and at the same time protect the public, each congregation dealt with the issue in an independent manner. On occasion information was divulged by the police to ministers, who would then attempt to monitor the situation on their own. Since 2009 every congregation within the Kirk has clear guidelines and support from the Safeguarding Office in providing monitoring off the sex offender and creating a safe environment for all within the church buildings.