Step 1: If you suspect someone is a victim of modern slavery or exploitation, there are two potential pathways. If the person is in immediate danger or requires medical attention, you must call 999. If the situation is not an emergency, the first step is to discuss your concerns with your Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO).
Step 2: The PSO will then give you reassurance and information. They will support you to write a record of your concerns. If they need support/ advice, they will then contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) or ask you to contact them. The DSA’s role is to offer advice and guidance and support the PSO and member of the church as they work through the safeguarding process.
Together, the PSO and DSA will discuss the situation and decide what needs to happen next. This may be advice, signposting and support for the victim/ PSO, or if there are safeguarding concerns they will assess the risk and determine whether they need to talk further with the potential victim or contact Social Care, the Police or the Modern Slavery Helpline. A different approach is taken, depending on whether the potential victim is an adult of child.
Step 3: If a referral is made to the police or social care, they will join everything together and assess the risk. Your report may only be one piece of a puzzle but it may be the missing piece in order to make a decision.
Step 4: The DSA will continue to support the PSO and member of the church and provide guidance about how to care pastorally for the potential victim. There is often an ongoing role for the wider church community. In this way, the safeguarding referral is only the beginning of the journey.
A member of the public has a key role to play in recording and reporting what they have seen but it is not their job to assess risk. Members of the public and PSOs are conduits of information, alerters not investigators. They are the eyes and ears of the community but not expected to be experts. However, guided by statutory authorities, they can continue to walk alongside and care for potential victims.
The statutory authorities are the safeguarding experts and they have all the background information that can enable them to make an accurate assessment of risk.