Forth Valley Buddhists Safeguarding Adult Policy

Forth Valley Buddhists 

Adult Safeguarding Policy 2023

This is the agreed policy of: 

Forth Valley Buddhists

Web address: https://forthvalleybuddhist.com Email: info@forthvalleybuddhist.com

Safeguarding Officer to Forth Valley Buddhists 

Smritiratna (Robin Coombs)

Email: stirling.triratna.safeguarding@protonmail.com

Phone: 07881 906766

Official Council member to Forth Valley Buddhists

Rijudaya (Robert Young)

Email: rijudaya@outlook.com Phone: 07922 574814

Insurance company:

Ecclesiastical Insurance 

Policy number: 20007341

Email: information@ecclesiastical.com

Phone: 0345-777-3322

This document was adopted by the Council members Forth Valley Buddhist of Stirling at their meeting held on……03. 06.2024………….… It will be reviewed and updated by the Safeguarding officer and Council members of Forth Valley Buddhist annually:- 

Safeguarding officer's signature:                                            Smritiratna

Smritiratna

Official Council member Signature: ________________________Rijudaya______________________ 

Rijudaya           

                                     

Date of Signing:                                03rd of June 2024                                                                            

This Stirling Triratna Adult Safeguarding policy is to be read in conjunction with the

  • Triratna guidance document ‘Managing those who pose a risk 2023’
  • The Triratna guidance document ‘Online safety in Triratna 2023’
  • The Stirling Triratna Ethical Guidelines 2023

Our Values

This policy is an expression of the first ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to protect living beings from harm. It is based on law and good practice in our jurisdiction.

Stirling Triratna is part of a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life. This is for many of us a source of great richness, support and strength. However, it also carries a risk that we may fail to notice, question, or act on behaviors of concern, out of naivety, loyalty to friends or lack of awareness, or an assumption that “it couldn’t happen here” or “they would never do a thing like that.”

The purpose of this policy

This policy is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in Stirling Triratna activities (and those of any outreach groups run by us) as volunteers, leaders or teachers.

It aims to provide

  • Protection for all adults attending Stirling Triratna activities, including those who may be at risk of harm or have care and support needs, also:
  • Protection for Friends, Mitras and Order members working with them.

It sets out 

  • information and practices contributing to the prevention of harm to adults.
  • what to do if harm is suspected.

Our responsibilities 

As the Council members of Stirling Triratna, we wish all adults who come into contact with us in any way to flourish through their engagement with the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

We recognise an ethical duty to prevent or address harm to all adults in the course of our activities, including adults who may be at risk of harm or have care and support needs, as set 

out by the Office of the Scottish Charities Register (OSCR) in its safeguarding guidance here… https://www.oscr.org.uk/guidance-and-forms/safeguarding-guidance-keepingvulnerable-beneficiaries-safe/ 

The types of harm we have a duty to prevent and address are listed below in Appendix 1. 

They apply by law to the care of adults who are deemed formally vulnerable or ‘at risk’. However, this list also provides a guide as to the types of harm we must be alert to prevent or address in the case of all adults.

Although we do not run activities specifically for those with identifiable vulnerabilities such as those who are carers or who live with mental illness or addiction, we recognise that people who may be vulnerable in these ways may attend our events and take part in the life of our sangha.

Smritiratna is our Safeguarding officer. 

He is responsible for co-ordinating the Safeguarding of adults in all activities of Stirling Triratna.

Who is an adult?

For the purposes of this policy an “adult” is a person who has passed their 18th birthday. 

Who is an adult who is vulnerable or “at risk”? 

The UK Care Act 2014 defines such a person as “any person who is aged 18 years or over and at risk of abuse or neglect because of their needs for care and or support”; ie, they need care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs); and “Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and as a result of those care and support needs, is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse or neglect".


Adults who may formally be ‘at risk’ may also include those who:

  • have dementia
  • have learning disabilities
  • have mental health problems
  • have drug, alcohol or substance dependency
  • have physical or sensory disabilities
  • are suffering from bereavement, grief and/or loss
  • through age or illness are dependent on other people to help them
  • live with domestic abuse
  • are homeless
  • are refugees or asylum seekers or
  • for any reason may be considered not to have ‘mental capacity’. (See below.)

Whether or not a person is “vulnerable” or “at risk” in these cases will vary according to circumstances and it should be noted that a person with a physical disability is not necessarily at risk, though they could be. Each case must be judged on its own merits.

For definitions of abuse in adults


See appendix 1.


For signs of abuse in adults
See appendix 2.

What is ‘mental capacity’? See appendix 3.

Vulnerability can be variable


Vulnerability and resilience can vary throughout a person’s life. Many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives and would not be formally classified as vulnerable or ‘at risk’ may on occasion may find themselves in a more vulnerable position, e.g. after a bereavement, serious illness, or breakdown of a relationship. They may be new to the practice of meditation and their practice may make them more sensitive.

For example, we will bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Triratna, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendship or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.

Protecting those with psychological disorders

We are aware that those attending our centre and activities may include adults experiencing psychological disorders ranging from mild to severe.

We recognise that as Buddhists we do not have the professional skills to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders and that they might not be helped solely by the kindness of Buddhists. In such cases, we may need to advise them to seek professional help. 



We are aware that for people with serious psychological disorders, traditional Buddhist practices involving recognition of the illusion of self could be dangerous. We may need to encourage them in traditional Buddhist practices involving the calming of body and mind or to avoid meditation – altogether, or during periods of relapse.

Where we believe a person to be at risk of self-harm or suicide, we will encourage them to contact their GP, or mental health team or to go to the accident and emergency department of the local hospital. If necessary, we will make the contact on their behalf, with their permission. 

We will consult with Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding officer if necessary: safeguarding@triratna.community 

Where we consider there is immediate danger of a person harming themselves or others we will contact emergency serviceswithout their permission if necessary.

Protecting those with psychological disorders - online

Buddhism and meditation are increasingly taught using online media. In person, it is relatively easy to notice where a person may have compromised mental health; online it is much more difficult.

We recognise that among those seeking individual online guidance from members of the Triratna Buddhist Order there may be some who report meditation experiences that indicate serious psychological disorder.

In engaging in individual guidance online by email, blog, social media, or text we will take great care at the start to establish with local Order members the identity, location, and suitability of the participant, and which local Order members are available locally to support them in person and gaining permission to contact those Order members if we believe they are at risk. (This does not apply where the participant is an Order member and therefore well known to us.)

Children 


For simplicity, we make our activities available only to those over 18, therefore children are not admitted. Similarly, our policy is not knowingly to communicate with children online. 

Security Checks

We are informed by Disclosure Scotland that, because our activities are open to all and not intended specifically for children or vulnerable adults, we do not need to register with them for security checks on our volunteers.

Managing those who pose a risk to others

There may be cases where it is known that a person attending our activities is likely to pose a risk to others (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, who is on the UK Sex Offender Register, or someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences).

Such a person will be asked by the Safeguarding officer to agree a behaviour contract, setting out the terms of their continued participation in Stirling Triratna activities, within agreed boundaries and based a formal risk assessment. This should be provided by the person’s probation/police supervising officer or other external professional, or an Order member with professional experience in risk assessment. If necessary our Safeguarding officer will consult with Thirtyone:eight and/or ask the ECA Safeguarding officer to put us in touch with a professionally qualified Order member.

Where it is felt that we do not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.

We will consult with Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding officer if necessary: 

safeguarding@triratna.community  or with external advisers such as Thirtyone:eight.

What is ‘abuse’?

‘Abuse’ is not a legal term, but covers a number of ways in which a person may be deliberately harmed (legally or illegally), usually by someone who is in a position of power, trust or authority over them, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority over them; for example by a Friend, Mitra or Order member who is helping to run Stirling Triratna activities for newcomers. The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the person in more subtle ways.

However, harm can also occur less consciously, through naivety, idealism or lack of awareness.

If someone has a concern

All allegations or suspicions should be taken seriously and reported to our Safeguarding officer: Smritiratna on stirling.triratna.safeguarding@protonmail.com  

If a person over 18 alleges abuse


We understand that we need to:• stay calm.

  • listen patiently.
  • reassure the person they are doing the right thing by speaking up.
  • clarify issues of confidentiality early on. We will make it clear we may have to discuss their concerns with others, on a strictly need-to-know basis, with their permission if possible. (See below.)
  • explain what we are going to do.
  • write a factual account of what we have seen and heard, immediately.

We will do our best to avoid:-

  • appearing shocked, disgusted, or angry
  • pressing the individual for details
  • promising to keep secrets
  • making comments or judgments (other than to show concern)
  • confronting any alleged perpetrator
  • contaminating the evidence by investigating matters ourselves.

Our responsibility is to take them seriously, not to decide if what they are saying is true. 

What we will do next

  • We understand that our first concern must be the safety and well-being of this person and that we must not be distracted from this by loyalty to the person who has been accused or a desire to maintain the good name of Triratna or us.
  • If the person receiving the disclosure is not our Safeguarding officer, they must tell the Safeguarding officer only, who will co-ordinate the handling of the matter on behalf of the Council members. However, if the Safeguarding officer is not immediately available the matter should be communicated to the Chair. 
  • We understand that every person has a legal right to privacy under the International Convention on Human Rights and data protection legislation. Therefore, if possible, we need to get the person’s consent to share the information they have given us, within the limits described here and below.
  • If the adult alleging abuse is not formally vulnerable or ‘at risk’ and their complaint may be criminal, it is up to them to report it to the police if they wish to, though we will offer them help and support to do this.
  • If the person is formally vulnerable or ‘at risk’ we may report on their behalf, though with their permission if possible.
  • Whether or not formally vulnerable or ‘at risk’, if the person may be in immediate danger, the Safeguarding officer, Chair, or person receiving the disclosure will phone social services or police straight away. A telephone referral will be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.



If necessary, our Safeguarding officer will contact Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding team for advice: safeguarding@triratna.community 

  • It may be necessary (and legal) to pass on information without the adult’s consent if they are at immediate risk of harm. Or if the abuse or harm is criminal. Or if there is risk of harm to a child.
  • The person receiving the disclosure will make detailed factual notes about the conversation/concern/incident as soon as possible, including time, date, and location, and pass them to the charity’s Safeguarding officer. (See ‘Secure, confidential recordkeeping’ below.)  As far as possible what the person has said should be recorded in their own words, as these could be used in court.
  • We understand that no sangha member should attempt to investigate a criminal allegation, that this is the job of the police and that to attempt this could prejudice a court case and put the parties in danger.

Finally, we may need to make external reports

  • We will report to our insurers any situation or incident that we consider might lead to a claim under our insurance policy.


We will consult with Triratna’s ECA Safeguarding officer if necessary: safeguarding@triratna.community or with external advisers such as Thirtyone:eight.

Who else needs to know?

We understand that confidentiality is very important. So we share information only on a need-to-know basis. Under data protection legislation, nobody has the right to know about a case except for Safeguarding purposes, those in a position to prevent further harm. This includes our Chair who holds ultimate responsibility for our governance. For example, where there is a criminal allegation against a Mitra it could be justifiable for the Safeguarding officer, Chair, and their Mitra Convenor to know about it.

This is not a matter of concealment but is intended to protect all concerned from further harm. It will also protect our sangha from fear, rumour, and disharmony which will make it much harder to deal with the matter effectively without causing further harm.

Secure, confidential record-keeping


We understand our responsibility for secure and careful record-keeping. Our Safeguarding officer will keep a detailed log of all Safeguarding-related incidents as well as conversations, actions, and the reasoning behind them. These should not be kept on any computer but on an external hard drive or memory stick. To guard against loss in case the files, hard drive, or memory stick become corrupted these will be backed up to another hard drive or memory stick and/or printed off. Any memory sticks, hard drives, and paper copies will be stored in a locked cabinet, box, or drawer accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our Council members, e.g. the Chair.

We also understand that under data protection law we need to word our records in a form we would be happy for the subjects to read if they ask to, as is their legal right. This means notes should be factual and respectful, free of interpretations and value judgements.

Keeping confidential records


We understand that because many abuse cases come to light 30 or more years later, we should keep our records for up to 50 years. This is important in order to address historical cases effectively but also for insurance purposes.

If Stirling Triratna closes down, we will give our records to another Triratna charity to keep with their own confidential Safeguarding logs. 

 

Appendix 1 Definitions of Abuse in Adults 

In the UK we have a legal duty to prevent or address the following types of harm to adults who may be vulnerable or ‘at risk’.

The list below also provides a guide as to the types of harm we should be alert to prevent or address in the case of all adults, as does the list at this link, from the Charity Commission for England and Wales https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-Council members

As defined in the UK Care Act 2014, Safeguarding duties apply to an adult who is defined as vulnerable or ‘at risk’ because they


  • have need for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those care and support needs are unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

Physical abuse – including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate physical sanctions.

Domestic violence – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so-called ‘honour-based’ violence.

Sexual abuse – including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

Psychological abuse – including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyberbullying, isolation, or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.

Financial or material abuse – including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance, or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions, or benefits.

Modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive, and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Discriminatory abuse – including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.

Organisational abuse – including neglect and poor care practice within an Institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one-off incidents to ongoing ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes, and practices within an organisation.


Neglect and acts of omission – including ignoring medical, emotional, or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition, and heating.

Self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding. Incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple, and affect one person or more.

Appendix 2
Signs of Abuse in Adults
 

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • History of unexplained falls, fractures, bruises, burns, minor injuries.
  • Signs of under or over use of medication and/or medical problems left unattended.
  • Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
  • Bruising and discolouration - particularly if there is a lot of bruising of different ages
  • and in places not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc.
  • Recurring injuries without plausible explanation
  • Loss of hair, loss of weight, and change of appetite
  • Person flinches at physical contact &/or keeps fully covered, even in hot weather;
  • Person appears frightened or subdued in the presence of a particular person.

Signs of Domestic Violence


  • Unexplained injuries or ‘excuses’ for marks or scars
  • Controlling and/or threatening relationship including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse, also so-called ‘honour-based’ violence, and Female Genital Mutilation.

Signs of Sexual abuse

  • Pregnancy in a woman who lacks mental capacity or is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • Unexplained changes in behaviour or sexually explicit behaviour
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underwear and/or unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Infections or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Full or partial disclosures or hints of sexual abuse:
  • Self-harming
  • Emotional distress
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Psychological abuse
  • Alteration in psychological state e.g., withdrawn, agitated, anxious, tearful. 
  • Intimidated or subdued in the presence of a carer
  • Fearful, flinching, or frightened of making choices or expressing wishes
  • Unexplained paranoia
  • Changes in mood, attitude, and behaviour, excessive fear or anxiety
  • Changes in sleep pattern or persistent tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Helplessness or passivity
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Implausible stories and attention-seeking behaviour
  • Low self-esteem


Signs of Financial or material abuse

  • Disparity between assets and living conditions
  • Unexplained withdrawals from accounts, disappearance of financial documents, loss of money
  • Sudden inability to pay bills, getting into debt
  • Carers or professionals fail to account for expenses incurred on a person’s behalf
  • Recent changes of deeds or title to property
  • Missing personal belongings
  • Inappropriate granting, or use of, Power of Attorney

Signs of Modern Slavery

  • Physical appearance, eg. unkempt, inappropriate clothing, malnourished
  • Movement monitored, rarely alone, travel early or late at night to facilitate working hours
  • Few personal possessions or ID documents
  • Fear of seeking help or trusting people

Signs of Discriminatory Abuse

  • Inappropriate remarks or comments, or lack of respect
  • Poor quality, or avoidance of, care
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Anger
  • Person puts themselves down in terms of their gender or sexuality
  • Abuse may be observed in conversations or reports by the person of how they perceive themselves

Signs of Institutional Abuse

  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Anger
  • Person puts themselves down in terms of their gender or sexuality
  • Abuse may be observed in conversations or reports by the person of how they
  • perceive themselves
  • No confidence in complaints procedures for staff or service users.
  • Neglectful or poor professional practice.

Signs of Neglect and Acts of Omission

  • Deteriorating despite apparent care
  • Poor home conditions, clothing or care and support.
  • Lack of medication or medical intervention

Signs of Self-neglect

  • Hoarding inside or outside a property
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or medical needs
  • Person looking unkempt or dirty and has poor personal hygiene
  • Person is malnourished, has sudden or continuous weight loss and is dehydrated – • constant hunger, stealing or gorging on food
  • Person is dressed inappropriately for the weather conditions
  • Dirt, urine, or faecal smells
  • Home environment does not meet basic needs (for example heating or lighting)
  • Depression

Appendix 3


What is ‘mental capacity’?

Whether a person has mental capacity is a matter of specialist assessment by social and mental health services. However, it may be useful to know something about it.

Mental capacity is the ability to make a particular decision. An adult may be at risk if they are unable to make a decision due to illness, disability, poor mental health, dementia, a learning disability, or something else that may impair their judgment.

A person may be deemed to be ‘without capacity’ if they cannot:

  • understand a decision
  • retain information
  • weigh up information • communicate their decision

- about matters such as:

  • finance
  • social care
  • medical treatment