Thinking Anglicans

Truro diocese publishes Jeremy Dowling case review

The Diocese of Truro has published this report:

A case review concerning Jeremy Dowling, his selection and employment within the Diocese of Truro

…The key findings of the review are:

  • The diocese failed to instigate an independent investigation upon people within the diocese becoming aware of allegations of child abuse made against Jeremy Dowling.
  • There was an unacceptable reliance within the diocese on, and probably misunderstanding of, the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to proceed with a prosecution.
  • There was ongoing knowledge of the situation among senior figures in the diocese well into the 1980s.
  • In line with national policy and requirements the diocese has developed child protection and safeguarding policies. This has progressed and developed through the decades to the current situation overseen by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel which has significant external membership.
  • Current processes are robust and well thought-out but need continual monitoring and promotion. Senior post-holders in the diocese understand their roles and responsibilities and know how to respond to any allegation of abuse they receive.

The report makes six recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel. The panel also made a further recommendation of its own which has been accepted by the Bishop’s Diocesan Council (See Appendix 3 of the report).

The full text of the report is available here.

There has been some media coverage:

BBC Bishops ‘ignored’ Jeremy Dowling child sex abuse

Guardian Four bishops failed to act over abuse by synod member, review finds

Cornwall Live Church knew about allegations before Cornish preacher went on to abuse boys, investigation reveals

There has also been a critical analysis by a survivor of sexual abuse: A review of the Dowling Review by Gilo which includes this:

…But there is another much more glaring omission. There is no mention of any survivors. They are invisible. Presumably they experienced the cover-ups and failure of appropriate response. Some may have tried to raise awareness as they watched Dowling rise up the diocesan ladder. But their experience and any insights on how the diocese responded to them – is totally absent. This omission is disturbing. It suggests a remit very purposefully constructed to withhold information whilst giving out carefully selected information. I imagine Dr Thompson cannot be blamed. But perhaps he should have asked Nigel Druce of the Diocesan Safeguarding Panel why such a wafer-thin remit. Why are the primary voices, the voices of survivors, not being invited to offer any insights to this diocese? Dr Andy Thompson is a leading lay figure in the diocese and on the Bishop’s Council in the diocese. I can’t help thinking a more independent and experienced reviewer would have spotted this obvious hole immediately…

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Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Here are four brief points which seem to be going missing in the current safeguarding narrative. First, the treatment of survivors should not principally be the business of remote functionaries, but rather of pastoral presences – local empathy, resource, commitment etc Second, keeping people safe from harm only happens on the front-line – the safeguarding teams pick up the problems, but the front line prevents problems (or not, as the case may be). It is no good creating systems which rely on the third line of defence to sort the issue. Third, the training given on safeguarding highlights what we… Read more »