Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser: Mrs Josephine Martin
Tel: 075797 68178

Email: Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor

If you have any concerns, questions, wish to report or seek support or assistance please use the contact form below. This contact form is sent directly to Josephine Martin, Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor.

If you believe a child or adult at risk is in immediate danger please contact the emergency services on 999.

Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group

  • Mrs Josephine Martin (Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser)
  • Mr Tom Cairns (Chair)
  • Fr Mark Impson (Episcopal Vicar for Safeguarding)
  • Mrs Anne M Rae
  • Mrs Kathleen Hoy
  • Mrs Margaret Farrell
  • Mrs Lauren Robertson (Diocesan Administration Co-ordinator)
  • Mr Roger McDermott
  • Sister Imelda Ann DuPuis
  • Deacon John Wire

Diocesan Safeguarding Contact

St Mary’s House
14 The Chanonry
AB24 1RP

Tel: 01224 319154
Fax: 01224 325 570

Email: Diocesan Safeguarding Service

If you have any concerns, questions, wish to report or seek support or assistance please use the contact form below. This contact form is sent directly to the Diocesan Safeguarding Service.

If you believe a child or adult at risk is in immediate danger please contact the emergency services on 999.


National Safeguarding Coordinator for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland

Appointment Pending

SCSS: Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service

64 Aitken Street

Tel: 0141 332 7177

Email: Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service

An online version of the safeguarding standards; “In God’s Image V2” can be accessed here

COVID-19: Reporting abuse at this time

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in Scotland to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in Scotland, you must refer allegations directly to the Safeguarding office for your Diocese or Religious Congregation.

If you are a member of the public, you should refer allegations directly to the Police and also to the Safeguarding office in your Diocese.

You can also contact the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service (SCSS) by telephoning 0141 332 7177 or by email at

Safeguarding Children And Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This quick guide is for those in regulated roles working to safeguard children and families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many are facing unprecedented challenges to support and safeguard children, young people, vulnerable adults and families. During this time of uncertainty and national crisis, it is particularly important to safeguard children and vulnerable adults who may be at an increased risk of abuse, harm and exploitation from a range of sources.

However, it is equally important to safeguard families, as far as possible, with parents facing significant pressures to continue to protect and promote the welfare of their children. These parents may already be struggling and so with additional pressure the likelihood of harm or significant harm may increase.


There is a clear correlation between poverty and the safeguarding of children and families. Where families are unable to meet the basic needs of children, this can, in some cases, lead to an increased likelihood of abuse, neglect and harm. During the COVID-19 outbreak, where paid work is threatened or lost or where families are forced to isolate, this risk of poverty increases and challenges the ability of families to be able to follow Government health advice.

Support networks
It is clear that children who are abused and harmed are often unseen and unheard. When this is explored in more depth it can become clear that the whole family system is isolated. Support networks provide help in being able to manage and overcome difficulties and challenges. Due to current social distancing measures, the ability of children and families to access traditional, face-to-face, social networks will be hampered and new means may need to be explored to retain contact as an important protective factor.

Abuse and harm

Different types of abuse and harm are likely to be more prominent during this time.

Domestic abuse
Conflict and violence can escalate when families face greater pressure and stress, and the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who feel at risk. The current situation disrupts routines and behaviours, both positively and negatively and it is important to be aware of how the tension can escalate to violence and abusive behaviours between families, parents and children.For further information on this topic, see SCIE’s Domestic violence and abuse during COVID-19 quick guide.

Substance abuse
Unhealthy coping mechanisms can involve a reliance on substances that provide relief and escapism by adults and children alike. Substances alter the behaviour of parents and create a lack of safety for children and young people. It is important to understand how families are managing the stresses that they face, which are likely to be exacerbated under the current pressures – with associated worries around employment, finances and health.

Isolation can place children at a greater risk of neglect. This is compounded by the increased economic challenges and poverty that families may be facing, and by the increased exposure of children to neglectful environments as they spend more time in the home. The closure of schools may further limit the contact that children have with professionals who can identify the signs of neglect and take steps to intervene and report concerns.

Neglect may become a source of harm for children, even if not the initial reason for social care involvement.

Children with additional needs
Children and young people with additional needs and disabilities are up to three times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children, and less likely to disclose harm due to communication and other difficulties. These children may still be able to access school during the COVID-19 response and this is an important safeguard for them. Families may find increased time at home and additional caring responsibilities, where external support opportunities may be limited, a strain.

Child exploitation and associated grooming comes in many forms. In times of crisis, those who might seek to exploit children and young people can be quick to act and prey on vulnerabilities   facing fewer barriers to do so with a reduction in online moderators that work to keep children safe.

Online social media and gaming sites become a lifeline for parents and children adapting to being at home and for addressing social isolation. However, this is often without access to personal, social and health education on how to stay safe.



A key event, intended to help disseminate some important features of IGIv2, this webinar – ‘Growing our Culture of Care’ –will take place on 2nd October 2021 from 11am to 1pm

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Newsletter
Our Commitment to Safeguarding

All components of the Catholic Church in Scotland, especially those in positions of leadership and responsibility, value the lives, wholeness, safety and well-being of each individual person within God’s purpose for everyone.

We seek to uphold the highest safeguarding standards in our relationships with people of all ages who are involved in whatever capacity with the Church and its organisations.

And therefore, as a Church community, we accept that it is the responsibility of all of us – ordained, professed, employed and voluntary members – to work together to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse or harm.

Safeguarding is a duty that is rooted in the message of Jesus and in the mission of the Church. The Catholic Church in Scotland aspires to the highest standards with regard to the care and protection of children and vulnerable adults, and actively promotes justice for, and provides assistance to, those who have been abused.

Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

National Policies/Standards

On 19th August 2021, the Bishops of Scotland signed their commitment to the new Safeguarding Standards set out in the policy document ‘In God’s Image V2’.

The document has been published by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland as an updated “Instruction on Safeguarding for implementation in all Catholic canonical jurisdictions in Scotland and by all other groups and organisations in Scotland subject to a legitimate canonical authority of the Catholic Church”. It is intended to explain and direct the approach to Safeguarding that is to be practised at every level of the Catholic Church in Scotland. For the public, and for Catholic faith communities, in particular, it has been written to explain how the Catholic Church in Scotland makes every effort to protect from all forms of harm and abuse those children and adults who are vulnerable or at risk. It has also been written to direct those who are responsible for managing Safeguarding arrangements in parishes, dioceses, Religious Institutes and Catholic organisations on how to comply with these new national Safeguarding standards.

These policies, procedures and standards are evidence of the enduring commitment of the Bishops in Scotland to develop and maintain high-quality safeguarding practice for all those who are involved in the life of the Church. The importance of support, guidance, procedures and training and development opportunities for people working with children and those who are vulnerable is recognised and this document should be used to provide a comprehensive and unified approach to the safeguarding programme.

Our Normative Safeguarding Standards

In many areas of public life, elected representatives, public officials, employees and volunteers are expected to observe certain standards, or codes of ethical conduct, which, in governing their practice, assure the public of the quality and trustworthiness of their work.  Public trust in those who care for the vulnerable is dependent on knowing that certain standards of service and conduct are being adhered to by those who have taken on these responsibilities.

All in the Church must strive to re-build trust where it has been broken and to hold ourselves to high standards of conduct and practice.  To enable us to achieve this goal, we have defined a framework of eight Safeguarding normative standards for all canonical jurisdictions within the Catholic Church in Scotland. These set out the required levels of care and protection to be offered by all who are responsible for children and vulnerable adults.

Compliance with all eight standards is required.

Standard 1


Creating and maintaining safe Church environments We provide environments that are welcoming, nurturing and safe. We put measures in place to protect children and vulnerable adults and to promote the wellbeing of all.
Standard 2 Vetting the appointment of clergy, religious, lay employees and volunteers When admitting men to seminary, appointing clergy & religious and recruiting lay employees & volunteers, we require PVG checks on their suitability for working with vulnerable groups.
Standard 3 Responding to concerns or allegations We follow canonical and civil procedures when alerted to information, concerns or allegations regarding a person’s safety or welfare and we ensure that there is a prompt response.
Standard 4 Providing care and support for survivors We provide a compassionate response to survivors of abuse when they disclose their experiences and we offer them support, advice, care and compassion.
Standard 5 Managing and providing care for those accused of abuse When an allegation is received concerning clergy, religious, lay employees or volunteers, we offer the accused pastoral care and support, including supervision and management of appropriate duties when necessary.
Standard 6 Working together in Safeguarding In our shared responsibility for Safeguarding, we work together effectively: recording, communicating and sharing information safely, in full compliance with both civil and canon law.
Standard 7 Training and support for all involved in Safeguarding Church personnel participate in induction training and continuing professional development and receive support in all aspects of Safeguarding, relevant to their respective roles, thus developing the requisite knowledge, attitudes and skills.  We encourage and facilitate the sharing of best Safeguarding practice.
Standard 8 Quality assurance in Safeguarding We deploy effective planning processes to monitor, review, self-evaluate and report on our Safeguarding practices and on our compliance with these Safeguarding standards.  The Independent Review Group (IRG) externally monitors and reports on our compliance with these Safeguarding standards.

 Safeguarding in the Catholic Church – Poster

The Safeguarding poster will be clearly displayed in Parishes, Activities and Organisations. Doing so will give a clear message to the local community that the Catholic Church in Scotland cares deeply about all people.

Contact details of individuals with specific responsibility for safeguarding, e.g. Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Local Diocesan Office, will also be displayed on the poster.

The Role of the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser

The role of the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (DSA) is to advise and assist the Bishop in meeting his Safeguarding responsibilities.  This must involve all matters that relate to ensuring the protection of children and vulnerable adults in their contact with Church personnel and/or on Church property in the Diocese. The DSA must co-ordinate efforts to raise awareness of Safeguarding within parish communities, including the recruiting and training of Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinators, the recruiting of Diocesan Safeguarding Trainers and the training of Diocesan clergy.  The DSA must also advise the Bishop on good practice in responding to allegations of abuse.  It is recommended that, in each Diocese, the DSA role should be undertaken by a layperson.

The Role of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group

The Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group(DSAG) must consist of people with relevant experience and skills, appointed by the Bishop to support the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in his/her Safeguarding duties and to ensure Diocesan-wide adherence to the Safeguarding standards to which the Bishop is co-signatory.  This should include the organisation of PVG applications and monitoring of on-going membership of the scheme across the Diocese.  The DSAG should invite the National Safeguarding Co-ordinator to provide information on national Safeguarding developments at their meetings. The group meets quarterly.

The Role of the Diocesan Risk Assessment Management Team

The Diocesan Risk Assessment Management Team(DRAMT) is appointed by the Bishop to assist him, within the strict limits of the law, in the management of individual cases where allegations have been made against a Diocesan cleric, employee or volunteer.  They should consider: convictions on PVGs, those being considered for Listing and Barring and references which indicate that a volunteer should not be allowed to start or continue in post.  This team’s advice and recommendations should assist the Bishop to come to decisions about how to proceed, in accordance with both civil and canon law, in response to allegations and concerns.

The Role of the Parish Priest

The Parish can be seen as the ‘frontline’ of Safeguarding, where many children, young people and adults participate in religious services and community activities.  The Parish Priest carries prime responsibility for ensuring that the parish provides a safe environment and protection from harm, in line with these policies, procedures and with legislation.  He must appoint a Parish Safeguarding Coordinator(PSC) who will support him with the management of Safeguarding in the parish.

The Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinator

The PSC must ensure that any person working with vulnerable groups has been ‘safely’ recruited, according to vetting procedures outlined in this document.  He/she must also take the lead role in promoting the participation of all volunteers in Safeguarding training provided by Diocesan Trainers.  Any allegation made to a parish volunteer, employee or cleric must be reported immediately to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser who will manage the process thereafter.

Annual Audit

The Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service conduct an annual audit of the implementation of the policies, procedures and standards contained in the document “In Gods Image “including the response of the Church nationally and of each Diocese to allegations and concerns of abuse.

Recruitment of Volunteers

To demonstrate that the work of volunteers with children is valued highly, the Catholic Church operates a robust selection and recruitment procedure, which includes receiving information from two independent referees and PVG Scheme Check.

In working with children and/or Adults at Risk every Parish Priest and Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinator must follow national policies and procedures laid down in the document’

Recruitment Process – Summary

The following is a summary of the recruitment process which must be carried out for all appointments as ‘Child Care’ and ‘Protected Adults’ workers.

Parishes must ensure that these recruitment procedures are adhered to: –

Step 1
Role Descriptions are developed for everyone.

Step 2
Prospective workers are asked to complete an Application Form. Existing workers transferring to another Parish and to a new post are asked to complete an Application Form.

Step 3
Two references are requested for prospective Workers. Where a worker is transferring between Parishes references can be obtained from the respective parish.

Step 4
Prospective Worker is interviewed. Where a Worker is transferring between Parishes he/she should be interviewed prior to being appointed to the new post.

Step 5
A PVG Scheme Record is requested for the worker before he/she is appointed. The Applicant is also asked to complete a Declaration Form. Where a worker is transferring between Parishes and to a new post, the applicant must apply for an Update to their PVG Membership and completes an ‘Existing PVG Membership’ application.

Step 6
The appropriate representative of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group should ensure that each Parish Priest/Parish Safeguarding Coordinator is notified of clearance of an appointment.

The volunteer must not be employed in any role until they are issued with their approval letter from the diocese.

Important changes in legislation will come into force on Monday November 30th 2020, within the Management of Offenders Scotland Act 2019. An immediate implication for safeguarding is that the current Self Declaration Form used by volunteers across Scotland is no longer compliant. As a result, the decision was made to no longer use it within the Safe Recruitment Process and to stop issuing the form immediately. 
How to Respond to Allegations
The Bishop’s Conference of Scotland has a mandatory Reporting Policy. All allegations of a criminal nature are reported to Police Scotland. This applies whether the accused is alive or deceased. Allegations must in the first instance be reported to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser. If the Adviser is not available, please ask to speak to a member of Safeguarding Team. If anyone discloses an allegation to you always remember to follow the nationally agree process: Listen – Respond – Record – Refer

What can you do to help if you are worried about a child, young person or adult at risk?

If you see behaviour that is of concern, or if an individual tells you something, you need to take them seriously, and speak to someone (the person to whom you are responsible or the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser).

In an emergency situation, where you have immediate concerns for the safety of an individual you must contact the Police/Social Work Services/Medical Services direct.

Responding to Concerns/Allegations of Abuse in Emergency Situations

When a child, young person or adult at risk is at risk of immediate harm, contact the Police and/or Social Work Services giving full information and follow advice given. Statutory Agencies are staffed 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Seek medical help where necessary, giving medical staff relevant information about the allegation/concern.

Following these steps ensures immediate avoidance of further abuse, immediate pursuit of an alleged abuser, avoidance or destruction of evidence.

Supporting Survivors

“Survivors of abuse of any form” deserve the greatest care and respect. Their courage in coming forward to disclose their experience to personnel within the Church can never be underestimated. So, Church personnel must take care to provide an immediacy of response (as well as sensitive care) to anyone who wishes to talk about the harm they have suffered.” 

Church personnel are open to receiving contact from survivors and seek to explore the best options available to support anyone who has been abused within the Church.

Should anyone wish to seek support or assistance as a result of harm caused within the Catholic Church please contact:

Tom Cairns, Chair, Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group

St Mary’s House, 14 The Chanonry, Aberdeen, AB24 1RP
Tel: 01224 319154

Reasons for visiting this page:

  • you are a survivor and want to find help and support.
  • you now feel strong enough to tell someone about the abuse you have suffered.
  • you want to understand more about what support is available for survivors of abuse.
  • you are the relative or friend of someone who has shared with you that they have been abused.
  • you to support someone known to you who is a survivor of abuse.

If you wish to tell someone about abuse:

Thank you for deciding to tell someone about the abuse you have suffered.  We understand that for anyone to reach this point demands significant courage.

The Catholic Church in Scotland has a mandatory reporting policy. This means that ALL allegations of abuse are reported to the Police, whether the accused is alive or deceased. Although all allegations are reported to the Police, you have the right to decide whether or not to engage with the Police at this stage. If you wish to make a statement to the Police, or if you decide that you are unable to do so at the moment, Safeguarding personnel are still available to offer you support.

What do survivors of abuse need?

To be Heard


Listening is essential and the most important first response to someone who discloses abuse. The Catholic Church want to listen to the voices of survivors. Initially this is done through a meeting with the Safeguarding Adviser in a Diocese.
To be Believed For a survivor to be told that they are believed is vitally important. Survivors of non-recent abuse will often have attempted to tell someone when the abuse was happening to them as a child. Very often they will have been dismissed or not believed. The impact of abuse on the psychological health of a survivor will result in a difficulty recalling the abuse in a chronologically accurate manner.
To feel Safe It is a common experience for survivors to feel anxious, having disclosed abuse, and to want reassurance and a sense of safety. This reflects the deeply rooted damage which abuse in a Church context causes on every level. Children often grow up with their understanding and experience of Church as a safe place with safe people around them. When it is the ‘safe people’ who are the perpetrators of abuse, this can be devastating. The Catholic Church has a particular duty of care to survivors to offer them safety by listening and responding with care and compassion.
To Understand Whilst it is often impossible to comprehend why a perpetrator chooses to hurt children by sexually abusing them, or indeed by subjecting them to other forms of abuse, there is a wealth of helpful literature available to help survivors to understand the impact of abuse. Two very helpful books have been written by Cristiane Sanderson: ‘The Warrior Within’ (for survivors) and ‘The Spirit Within’ (for anyone supporting survivors).
To find Support The Catholic Church in Scotland can arrange for Counselling to be provided for anyone who has been abused in the Church.  The cost of the counselling sessions is met by the Diocese or Religious Congregation.  Some survivors may wish to find spiritual support. Some have rejected the Church because it symbolises the abuse suffered. Others still search for a sense of the faith which they feel has been lost. It is important that the Church remains open to listening to what survivors are seeking.

The Raphael Counselling Service was launched in 2015 and referrals to this service which is provided by the professional agency Health In Mind are made via the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill

On 13 August 2020, the Scottish Government introduced the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament.

The document is available to download below:

The McLellan Report


RC Diocese of Aberdeen Charitable Trust.
A registered Scottish Charity Number SC005122