09 September 2004

Safeguarding body to celebrate success at first AGM

Keeping Children Safe is good news for churches everywhere, says Judy Jarvis, after 15 years experience of children's work at a national level for The Methodist Church in Great Britain.
Judy will tell church representatives how Christian faith illuminates the bureaucratic form-filling of Criminal Records Bureau procedures. She is the main speaker at the first AGM of the Churches Agency for Safeguarding (CAS) in London on 22 September. The meeting will mark a significant development in the development of the CAS, which exists to support child protection and safeguarding policies across 10 British churches. The organisation will ratify its constitution and consider its legal status and relationship with other ecumenical bodies.

The Revd Pearl Luxon, Methodist Secretary for Child Protection and Safeguarding, and Director of CAS says, "we have a great deal to celebrate with all that has been achieved, and we will shape the organisation for the future. The CAS has come a long way since its formation in 2002. This meeting will consolidate the work we have done so far, and create a foundation for future growth in this vital area."

All those working with young people and children are required to have a background check carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (in England and Wales) or the Central Registered Body in Scotland. In order to ensure that best practice and common standards were followed in the complex process, a group of 11 British churches combined to form the CAS in 2002. The Methodist Church in Britain is a lead body in the group along with the Baptist Union.

At first the CAS was a victim of its own success, with so many church groups submitting new staff and volunteers for CRB checks that a backlog developed. However the group hired extra staff in the summer of 2004 to clear this, and the backlog will disappear by the end of September.

The AGM will also discuss the CAS relationship with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. It will also announce a programme, run with the NSPCC, for training those assessing, reviewing and advising on blemished CRB disclosures. The Churches Forum for Safeguarding will also be promoted: this is a place for member denominations to exchange information on child protection and safeguarding and to support those working in these issues in the churches. 

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