Building and maintaining trust is a key component of good safeguarding practice. People who attend our churches trust their leaders to ensure their safety when they come, that those who need to be trained are, and that those leaders themselves are only in their roles after a thorough recruitment process. This is part of a set of expectations described in the safeguarding policy posters published last year, highlighting how things should be. Hopefully these are prominently displayed in your church.
This week it’s the Metropolitan Police’s turn to come under the spotlight following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens. Even the Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, has admitted that the public has lost a degree of trust in the police and she is now aiming to take steps to address this. It feels like a long road, considering the number of well publicised current and past cases where trust has been eroded, leaving some groups or communities feeling quite alienated.
One of the key things for the Met to address is a culture where, it would appear, a small number officers are able to denigrate women and minority groups without robust challenge. We hear a lot about rotten apples, and sadly many organisations, including the Church, will have their own examples where the behaviour of a minority causes the majority to lose trust or, in some cases, start to feel unsafe. Especially in places or circumstances where they would expect to feel the exact opposite.
Following policy and practice requirements, asking the right questions about how matters are arranged and challenging behaviour that does not seem right and is inconsistent with our beliefs and values is critically important. This is not about being awkward or argumentative, or even ‘woke’, but simply about enabling the development of an open and transparent church community built on mutual respect and trust.