Vulnerable Adults+Children

Munisha has recently researched the area of Child Protection for Triratna Centres, and her recommendations are available here:

Triratna Child Protection Guidelines – Munisha April 2013

They were prepared in association with CCPAS, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service. A key finding is that the Triratna Buddhist Order or one of its centres or charities could be held responsible if an Order member or mitra were found guilty of abuse of children or vulnerable people, whether or not they were acting on behalf of a Triratna institution, or even specifically as Order members or mitras. For this reason she is strongly recommending that all Triratna Buddhist Centres join CCPAS, make sure they have appropriate policies in place, and ensure that relevant people have current DBS checks.

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The above advice is a consequence of the UK Government’s ‘Vetting and Barring’ scheme, which came into force in October 2009. Some more detailed guidance on this is available on-line at www.eauk.org/articles/independent-safeguarding-authority.cfm

The scheme is basically a massive new database that will require all those engaged in ‘regulated activity’ (ie ‘frequent’ or ‘intensive’ contact with children or ‘vulnerable adults’) to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and have their registration status checked by it. It’s in addition to the existing Criminal Records Bureau system.

To give you an idea of the scale of it, Wikipedia says – Current estimates state the number who will be required to register will be approximately 11.3 million people (or a quarter of the adult population). The cost of registration will be £64 per person except for volunteers for whom it will be free of charge.

The definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ is very vague and almost certainly includes quite a few people who come to Triratna centres from time to time. Among other elements the definition includes ‘anyone receiving any form of health care’ – most of us! ‘Frequent’ means contact made twice a month or more often; ‘intensive’ includes anything overnight, which would include residential retreats. The text of the Act introducing it can be referenced here.

Participation in the scheme includes a duty for organisations to report to the database any suspicious conduct by anyone; also to ask it for a reference on anyone they might be thinking to employ (including as a volunteer) if they will be in ‘frequent’ or ‘intensive’ contact with children or vulnerable adults. And as you might expect “It will not be possible to ‘opt-out’ of the Scheme and there will be criminal offences for non-compliance on both the employer and employee”.

Triratna Centres are advised to prepare suitable policies; and CCPAS, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, has a wide range of excellent material, including sample policies and guidance on topics to cover for those wishing to write their own policies.

A sample Triratna Buddhist Community policy can be downloaded here –
Specimen_Child_and_Vulnerable_Persons_Protection_Policy_ii.

Some sample local authority policies are available, see for example –
London Voluntary Service Council
Wolverhampton

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Amaravati Buddhist Monastery have a very clear and comprehensive 34-page Child Protection Policy developed for their family events. You’ll find it at –
www.family.amaravati.org/files/cp/Child_Protection_Policy_v5.pdf

They also have various related documents at www.family.amaravati.org/cp/main including a code of conduct which is to support the Child Protection Policy – it is used to clarify what is expect of retreat center managers/helpers and others supporting the family events.

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