Safeguarding: The four R’s

When we train the staff and volunteers at the Cathedral about safeguarding processes, we refer to the importance of the 4 Rs:

  • Recognise
  • Respond
  • Record
  • Refer


Recognise – it is vital that our staff and volunteers recognise the potential indicators of abuse.

Main forms of abuse/potential indicators include:

  • Physical: bruises, burns, cuts, bites, fractures, wounds etc. which do not have an explanation
  • Emotional: untypical changes in mood or behaviour, withdrawn or clingy, depression, aggression, extreme anxiety, low self-esteem
  • Neglect: poor appearance/hygiene, rashes, sores, lice. Constant hunger, inadequate care, clothing, supervision, untreated medical conditions
  • Sexual: sexual knowledge/behaviour inappropriate to age or development stage, sexual drawings or language, genital pain, itching or bruising, unexplained sexually transmitted or genital infections. Unexplained fear, aggression, becoming withdrawn, self-harm, bedwetting, nightmares, eating disorders
  • Grooming: gaining the trust of an individual, family, community in preparation for abuse
  • Domestic Violence/Abuse: incidents/patterns of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16+ who are/were intimate partners or family members
  • Financial: unexplained disappearance of funds or valuables, sudden changes in bank accounts or wills, lack of money for essentials
  • Discriminatory: this includes harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • Institutional abuse: this includes neglect and poor practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home. This may range from one-off incidents to on-going ill-treatment
  • Spiritual: using faith, spirituality, trust to manipulate and control people

Other forms of abuse include: Bullying, Cyber bullying, Child Sexual Exploitation, Modern Slavery, Criminal Exploitation


Respond – staff and volunteers may become aware of abuse, allegations or concerns in a number of ways. This may be a disclosure from an individual, someone who knows them or they may witness abuse directly. All concerns and allegations must be taken seriously and acted upon.

With a person making a disclosure, staff and volunteers are trained to:

  • Never promise to keep a secret or confidentiality. They should tell the person they may need to share this
  • Assure the person they are not to blame
  • Reassure the person they have done the right thing by telling them
  • React calmly, be aware of non-verbal messages and body language
  • Listen, do not ask leading questions or investigate
  • Tell the person what they are going to do and that they will be told what is happening at each stage

Staff and volunteers are trained not to :

  • Attempt to investigate themselves
  • Discuss the case with anyone else
  • Speak to the person who is the subject of the allegation/concern
  • Ignore it


Record – Staff and volunteers are trained to write down key information. 

  • Make full notes of what they are told including names, the person making the disclosure and referral, date and time
  • Date and sign their notes
  • As far as possible use the exact words the child/vulnerable adult used


Refer – Our staff and volunteers are not expected to be an expert in these areas.

All disclosures, allegations and concerns must be acted upon and referred as soon as possible to the Cathedral Safeguarding Manager or Diocesan Safeguarding Manager whose details can be found on the safeguarding page on the website: