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Being clear when it’s all in the line of duty

If you’ve been watching the BBC drama series ‘Line of Duty’, which ended its current run on Sunday, you will know that you needed to keep up with all the alphabetic and numerical acronyms. Did you know your AFO from your CHIS and the OCG? What does AC 12 actually mean? I recall a glossary being published when this series started in March. I’m sure many viewers would have found it useful, but if you haven’t been following at all, this will all sound like gobbledegook.

Like most organisations, the Methodist Church also has its own fair share of acronyms. Do you know your LP from your LEP and CPD? What about CC and CM? For organisational insiders, acronyms are a useful shorthand so that you can get a quick sense of what people are talking about and there is shared understanding of both appearance and function. But what about some of our fully written out words, such as steward, church council member or pastoral visitor? Is there a common understanding of what’s involved and what has to be done to fulfil the role?

In some cases, the roles and expectations are defined in CPD (here we go again – for those not in the know, this is the Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church), but in others there is scope for local variation. Pastoral visitors are a case in point, where careful definition is required because our safe recruitment policy and procedures rely on this clarity to confirm whether a post is eligible for a DBS (that’s Disclosure and Barring Service) check or not. Some tasks that a pastoral visitor could undertake, such as doing shopping and paying bills, or providing regular ferrying to and from medical appointments may well bring the role within the DBS orbit. Delivering the church magazine and a quick conversation on the doorstep will probably not.

The Church is intending to re-publish refreshed safe recruitment policy and guidance later this summer, and it will aim to help local churches better understand their responsibilities in this area. Having a clear, written understanding of what all church roles involve will definitely help to identify where a DBS check is required by comparing the task with the regulations. Look out for it, and I’m pleased to say that it looks like it will be much shorter than the current version.

Oh and if you have occasion to contact me, don’t try to talk to me about the outcome of ‘Line of Duty’. At the time of publication I have still to watch the final episode on catch up!

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