What to do with second-hand or hearsay information about possible abuse

If a safeguarding concern is being brought to your attention by someone who is not the alleged victim, listen carefully to what is being said.

If possible, the person bringing the concern should write down what they have seen or heard that has worried them; if it concerns an adult, ask if they have talked to the adult and sought his/her consent to refer what ;s happened to the relevant agencies. This log should be signed and dated. Try to avoid leading questions that start with words like did he?? ; or was it?? ; These can only be answered with yes ; or no ;. Instead, ask questions that begin with Who?? ; or What?? ; or How?? ; These are likely to collect more detailed information. Be sympathetic and show that you are taking what has been said seriously. Try not to express your own personal feelings about what has happened. After the conversation, write down as accurately and clearly as you can your own log of what was said, and what action you have agreed together. Sign and date the document: include the time, day, month and year.

Whether or not the referral to another agency is made, the co-ordinator is encouraged to report the concern to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, who will support and advise the parish and liaise with other agencies as appropriate. If the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger, or needs medical attention, contact the police and/or call an ambulance (999) before contacting the Officer or Adviser.

Under no circumstances should anyone in the parish make an attempt to investigate an allegation of improper behaviour or potential harm involving a vulnerable person. Such allegations must be reported to the appropriate agencies: the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or Diocesan Safeguarding Officer can help you do this. Remember that if the allegation involves a member, employee or volunteer of the church, this must be reported to Rebecca Boswell, Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.