Organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults are expected to have a complaints procedure and whistleblowing policy in place.
Parishes count as employers, not only in respect of paid clergy or lay staff but also in respect of volunteers. They also count as voluntary organisations and should have such policies in place.
Whilst the complaints procedure addresses issues of a general nature, the whistleblowing policy should be used to allow a disclosure of information that anyone genuinely and reasonably believes is in the public interest to bypass formal structures and to share their concern with an appropriate person without fear of reprisal.
The Diocese of Oxford has separate complaints procedures and whistleblowing policies for clergy and employees of Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance (ODBF) and employees of Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE), as well as a separate safeguarding complaints policy and procedure. The following information is suggested to cover both these areas:
If you have a complaint about a member of clergy, there are two different ways you can respond, either informal or formal.
For further details about our clergy complaints procedure, please refer to the relevant sub-section of Policies, Procedures and Safeguarding within Clergy HR.
If you are not satisfied with the service you have received as a result of the diocese handling a safeguarding concern or allegation, you should follow the Safeguarding Complaints Policy and Procedure and/or refer to the When Things Go Wrong leaflet summarising the process.
Whistleblowing is the name given to the act of the disclosure of information to the diocese or the relevant authority by an individual who knows, or suspects, that another individual or a group of individuals within the diocese is responsible for or has taken part in some wrongdoing.
Certain disclosures are prescribed by law as ‘qualifying disclosures. A ‘qualifying disclosure’ means a disclosure of information that the person genuinely and reasonably believes is in the public interest and shows that the diocese has committed a ‘relevant failure’ in any of the areas mentioned above. Those who raise issues under the whistleblowing provision must have a genuine and reasonable belief that it is in the public interest and shows that the organisation has committed a “relevant failure” by:
- committing a criminal offence;
- failing to comply with a legal obligation;
- a miscarriage of justice;
- endangering the health and safety of an individual;
- environmental damage, or;
- concealing any information relating to the above.
If you wish to disclosure a concern regarding a member of clergy, lay staff or volunteer within the diocese, please refer to the diocesan Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure. However, if we conclude that a whistleblower has made false allegations maliciously or with a view to personal gain, the whistleblower may be subject to disciplinary action.
If an investigation is required, confidentiality will be maintained to the extent that this is appropriate and practical in the circumstances. The person raising complaints or concerns will be informed of the outcome subject to the normal rules on confidentiality of personal information.
If, however, your concerns are regarding an employee of ODBF or ODBE please find the respective complaints and whistleblowing policies below: