Westminster Abbey is committed to ensuring that children, young people and adults at risk who come to visit us may worship, learn, and grow in Christ safely.

A man in medieval costume walks with a group of children through College Garden, Westminster Abbey

As part of their commitment to safeguarding children, young people and adults – especially vulnerable adults – the Dean and Chapter has in place a safeguarding policy and arrangements which include:

  • Procedures to respond to and report concerns
  • A code of safe practice
  • Safer recruitment procedures

Westminster Abbey's policies govern the work undertaken with children, young people, and vulnerable adults who attend the Abbey Church and St Margaret's Church, or who take part in activities within the Abbey's premises and grounds.

Further guidance and detail on Westminster Abbey's safeguarding policies and procedures can be accessed below.

Westminster Abbey Safeguarding Policy as at March 2019 (PDF, 556KB)

Westminster Abbey Safeguarding Procedures - March 2019 (PDF, 147KB)

Westminster Abbey Safeguarding Roles and Responsibilities - November 2019 (PDF, 433KB)

Westminster Abbey 2017 Independent Annual Safeguarding Review (PDF, 119KB)

Westminster Abbey 2018 Independent Annual Safeguarding Review (PDF, 115KB)

Policy statement

Westminster Abbey is committed to facilitating an environment in which children, young people and adults – especially adults at risk of abuse - are able to visit, worship and grow in Christ safely. Abuse and mistreatment in any form is entirely contrary to Scripture and the Church’s teachings. In respecting the dignity and value of every person the Dean and Chapter is committed to:

  • the care, nurture of and respectful pastoral ministry with all children and all adults
  • the safeguarding and protection of all children, young people and adults when they are at risk
  • establishing a safe, caring community which provide a loving environment and a culture of ‘informed vigilance’ and action towards safeguarding everyone.

The Dean and Chapter will seek to fulfill these through:

  • the production of clear policy and procedures with which all will comply
  • the safer recruitment, training and support of those in positions of responsibility and trust
  • responding without delay to concerns and complaints regarding actual or potential harm or mistreatment (advice to be sought / action taken within 24 hours)
  • cooperating with professionals and processes necessary to ensure proper safeguards and pastoral care
  • considering a report on safeguarding matters each quarter
  • the provision of care and support to those who have experienced abuse
  • the provision of safe supervision and support to those who have abused others.

Whenever the choristers of Westminster Abbey Choir School are at Westminster Abbey or under the care of our staff or volunteers the provisions of the Choir School Safeguarding Policy and Procedures will apply.

Guiding principles

The principles below will guide all elements of safeguarding activity delivered by those at all levels within Westminster Abbey (including the Abbey Church, St Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey Choir School):

  • pastoral care which is respectful and informed
  • timely safeguarding action – advice to be sought / action to be taken within 24 hours
  • the involvement of others on a need to know basis only
  • prevention and the early identification and management of actual or potential risks – being aware that it is better to take action before harm occurs
  • the discharging of duties to the highest level of Christian behaviour
  • the active commitment of all in promoting and keeping our community safe.

The Abbey’s policy and procedures apply to all at Westminster Abbey, paid and unpaid, clergy and laity. Those working for or in the Westminster Abbey Choir School or engaging with the choristers are subject and should give priority to following the provisions of the Choir School Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

Code of Safer Working Practice

This code is provided for all those at Westminster Abbey (the Abbey Church, St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey Choir School, Westminster Abbey Enterprises Ltd.) to follow when working and volunteering with children, young people and adults. The code represents the behaviours which constitute safe practice. As such it will assist those working with children and adults at risk of abuse or neglect to do so safely and responsibly, enabling them to monitor their own standards of integrity and good practice.

You should:

  • Treat all children, young people and adults with respect and dignity, keeping your own language, attitude and body language respectful.
  • Actively communicate with children, young people and adults at risk and involve them in planning and running activities where possible.
  • Avoid being alone with a child; there should always be two safely recruited adults with each group of children.
  • Develop a culture where staff (paid and voluntary), children and adults at risk feel comfortable to point out inappropriate attitudes and behaviour in each other.
  • Make it plain who someone can speak about a personal concern, and be proactive in addressing concerns and allegations.
  • Never use illicit drugs, abuse prescription medication, or use alcohol when responsible for a child or adult at risk.
  • Keep physical contact specific to the needs of the activity and always seek permission from the person first.
  • Obtain consent for any photographs/videos to be taken, shown or displayed.
  • Act in accordance with the guidance on communicating electronically and the social media policy, avoiding inappropriate on-line friendship.
  • Never use rough play, sexually provocative words and games or any forms of physical punishment.
  • Never scapegoat, ridicule or reject a child, group or adult or allow others so to do.
  • Avoid showing favouritism to any one child, adult or group or doing anything to reinforce any inappropriate behaviours.
  • Never give lifts to children or young people on their own or on your own or allow unknown adults access to children.
  • Never share sleeping accommodation with children or invite them to your home alone.
  • Always operate within the Abbey’s principles, procedures and guidelines, clarifying these when unsure.

The above set clear expectations of behaviour and codes of practice which serve to reduce the possibilities of positions of trust being abused or misused, or false accusations being made. More detailed guidance on safe working practices, such as when to gain consent, working with and transporting children, can be found in the guidelines available through the Safeguarding Toolkit on the Diocese of London website and in the appendices of Westminster Abbey Choir School’s Safeguarding – Policy and Procedure.