THINKING ANGLICANS

CofE Safeguarding statistics: corrected data

The Church Times has a report this morning, which mentions (scroll to end) that:

Ongoing safeguarding allegations. It was revealed this week that The General Synod was misinformed last month about the number of safeguarding allegations being handled by the dioceses, it was revealed this week.

There are in fact about 2600 cases ongoing, not 3300, as previously reported by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, in a written question to a Synod member, Kat Alldread, last month (News, 16 February).

More than half of these 2600 cases involved children, and more than a quarter related to church officers — not 18 per cent as previously reported, the clerk to the Synod, Dr Jacqui Philips, confirmed in a letter to Mrs Alldread this week.

Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian today has a news report: Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry which includes a link to the full text of the letter from Dr Jacqui Phillips, Clerk to the Synod, which corrects the statistics:

…At the General Synod on 8 February 2017 the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding answered your question no 47 about the scale of safeguarding casework. I very much regret to say that part of this answer was incorrect, owing to a human error in compiling the data from which the answer was drawn. The Lead Bishop has asked me to convey his apologies to you for this error and to express his hope that neither you nor other members of Synod will have been misled by this incorrect information…

The corrected answer reads:

“Each diocese is asked to complete an annual self-assessment circulated and collated by the National Safeguarding Team for the previous year’s activity. Our current data relates to 2016 activity. Reporting methods used by the dioceses may vary so the numbers given are an approximate figure.

“In 2016 dioceses reported that they were dealing with around 2600 safeguarding concerns or allegations. Concerns are different from allegations of actual abuse and may cover less serious matters but may include raising issues of neglect or potential vulnerability of children or adults. 53% of concerns or allegations relate to children, and 47% to adults. Around 27% of concerns or allegations raised relate to a church
officer.

“The National Safeguarding Team has commissioned further work to analyse data for safeguarding concerns or allegations. The results of this analysis will be reported to the National Safeguarding Steering Group in due course.”

The main part of the Church Times news article by Hattie Williams, which is headlined IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say previews the IICSA hearings that start next week, as does the Guardian article. The latter contains quotes from survivors Graham Sawyer and Gilo and from Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon.

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Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

As the figures quoted are for the dioceses, it would be interesting to know how many more the national safeguarding team is dealing with.

Kate
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Kate

Interesting observation, Janet. Shows the importance of framing questions accurately.

Is it possible that the original figure of 3300 was the grand total?

T Pott
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T Pott

According to the Guardian there were 2600 allegations of abuse being dealt with, but according to the Church it was 2600 concerns and allegations, where concerns may include potential vulnerabilities of children or adults. This conflation of disparate data, concerns and allegations, is increasingly common and serves to obfuscate. Even Ms Sherwood seems to have taken it as allegations and missed that some (a few, most, we don’t know) are merely potential vulnerabilities. We also don’t know many csses were completed, as opposed to being dealt with. If the point of the survey was to see how busy safeguarders are,… Read more »