A youth and community centre has come under fire by locals after it emerged a convicted child sex offender had been signed up as a volunteer.
Calne Central, which offers support to young people and vulnerable adults, defended its volunteer sign-up process and said Bruce Wayne – formerly known as Andrew Phillips, who was convicted of sexual activity with a child in 2011 – was never left unsupervised.
As reported by Wiltshire 999s yesterday, Wayne, of Watermint Close, Calne, admitted breaching his 2020-granted Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) by helping out at the centre for around two months.
During that time he struck up a friendship with a vulnerable adult with mental health issues, even meeting her in the dead of night when she called on him for support.
He began working at the centre but was always supervised by someone with a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. He later produced a DBS check which didn’t match the information he had previously provided. The charity contacted Wiltshire Police for advice, and Wayne never made it as a fully-fledged volunteer.
“The proper procedures were followed in this case, as for all volunteers”, trustee and volunteer coordinator Terry Couchman told Wiltshire 999s this morning.
Adding: “They start on what we call a ‘find your feet’ basis where they are allowed the same access as ordinary members of the public but are also supported and supervised in engaging in practical volunteer activities, while we check out their capabilities, conduct and instigate a DBS check.”
Read Terry Couchman’s statement in full:
“The proper procedures were followed in this case, as for all volunteers.
“They start on what we call a ‘find your feet’ basis where they are allowed the same access as ordinary members of the public but are also supported and supervised in engaging in practical volunteer activities, while we check out their capabilities, conduct and instigate a DBS check.
“If there is no agreement they remain (like all visitors) entitled to community support they need, and we identified he needed that support. Any help they do provide remains supervised by an established volunteer (as was the case here).
“Eventually, he divulged he has a criminal record when we pushed for his cooperation to obtain our own DBS check.
“The meant his access would be the same as for any visitor, supervised and monitored at all times and limited to public opening times.
“We later discovered that he was meant to have notified his police offender manager of any intention to do volunteering.
“We understand he also lied about having possession of the first level security key (which he was supposed to return after a single agreed use).
“He did not have the full security key set, these are only held by trustees for Calne in Tune, who are responsible for the overriding security of the building, its contents and user access.
“This is the key which volunteers can use if they have to leave the building unmanned and unoccupied at any time, say for a break when clearing up at end of the day. It can also be used to provide access at opening time when there are problems with the usual volunteer getting in on time.
“As I said, the main security is with the trustees only and one or two people who help with our general security, including the CCTV camera and recording which is only accessible to myself and other trustees.
“As mentioned, he did help with the CCTV on one occasion, but that was with re-securing its access. His access was temporary and technical and the access and passwords were changed by trustees after the work was done (as we usually do).
“At no time during his work within the building present any serious issues. He limited himself to activities we allowed him and did not try to go beyond the basic tasks and times we allowed him.
“In fact, in all fairness, he clearly does have mental health problems and his role as a volunteer proper was in doubt even before we found out his dishonesty.
“The final disclosure was therefore not a complete surprise and just confirmed what we had already assessed to be a person in need of support rather than someone who could safely provide it.
“People need to understand that we cannot judge people on speculation and rumour have to accept people on trust first (like an organisation) until the proper references and DBS checks come through.
“I hope that my responses have clarified some of your readers’ assumptions that we did something wrong. In fact, we were very vigorous and clear about the probationary roles (‘find your feet’ period of induction) of volunteers and the fact they are under constant supervision within the building.
“It would seem that his activities were outside the building and somewhat in the past.
“Remember, these are all volunteers involved here and their primary role is to support people as best they can unless and until they prove untrustworthy or a threat, or there is some lawful basis for their exclusion.”