Thinking Anglicans

Archbishops’ Council agrees new safeguarding proposals

Updated again Saturday evening

Press release today: Unanimous support from Archbishops’ Council on safeguarding proposals

The Archbishops’ Council, at its meeting on Wednesday (Sept 23), voted unanimously for safeguarding proposals to offer both immediate practical support to survivors of abuse and also to strengthen independence in the Church’s safeguarding work.

The Council approved a proposed plan for an interim pilot support scheme for survivors and agreed to draw down reserves for an initial support fund to support those who have come forward. The Council also committed to urgently pursue the principle of independent safeguarding recognising the need for greater independence and transparency of safeguarding.

The pilot scheme is designed to enable the Church to respond in particular to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure. Experience with these pilot cases will help inform the setting up of the Church’s full redress scheme for victims and survivors of abuse as that is developed. Part of the value of a pilot scheme is that it will enable the Church to explore different ways of working and to learn important lessons for the future.

The full paper put to the Council contained further details of how the interim pilot support scheme would be run.

The vote followed a detailed discussion by Council members on the importance of safeguarding in the Church including a presentation from the national director of safeguarding Melissa Caslake and input from the lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said:

“Today the Council discussed the safeguarding challenges that face our Church. We acknowledged how we have responded badly to survivors, and what that means for the Council as a trustee body. It was a long, honest and soberingly frank discussion. There were some very personal reflections and comments, including from both of us. This reflects the seriousness with which the Council took the proposals under discussion. The issue of independence is something we have taken a personal lead on and are very committed to. We are glad that we the Church is now going to make this happen. Along with providing redress for victims and survivors this is the next step we must take. Today’s meeting and these decisions feel like a turning point. As we await IICSA’s report into the Church of England we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed. We are profoundly sorry for our failings, but today our words of sorrow are matched by actions that will believe will lead to real change. We hope that this will provide some hope for the future.”

Bishop Jonathan Gibbs said: “While there is much work now to be done the decision to start a support fund is an important and vital step in our response to survivors. This is an endorsement by the Archbishops’ Council of General Synod’s unanimous vote in February for a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress.’

The press release says: and also to strengthen independence in the Church’s safeguarding work and the archbishops are quoted as saying: The issue of independence is something we have taken a personal lead on and are very committed to. We are glad that we the Church is now going to make this happen. But there is absolutely no explanation of what this means.

Updates: see in the comments below for some helpful explanations of what is meant.

Also, this recruitment advertisement appeared earlier this week: Development Manager (Redress Scheme)

The Church Times has this report: New scheme ‘marks turning point’ in Church’s treatment of survivors.

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Simon Butler
Simon Butler
26 days ago

As someone who was part of this decision, I think it means that Archbishops’ Council safeguarding responsibilities, i.e at the very least the National Safeguarding Team, will be made as independent as possible. Clearly there’s lots of work to do, but I’m clear that we decided that it was time to stop marking our own homework, that casework will become independently investigated and managed, and that we will be moving in this direction with urgency. Obviously the Archbishops’ Council will have to fund independent work, so total independence will be impossible (we have to be sure of value for money… Read more »

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
26 days ago

I agree it could have been clearer. I understand that survivors groups have been briefed before the announcement was made

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
23 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

I never heard a word and I am on MACSAS and the SRG….

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
26 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

Simon, can you explain what is meant by ‘it is time now to put the suspicion of conflict of interest as far as possible from the reality’?

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
26 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

That’s my take on the situation we’ve been in. I don’t happen to think there’s been any favouritism or protection of bishops and others accused in recent years, but I recognise that others have suspected it. By moving to independence in safeguarding we can make it abundantly clear that there is no preferential treatment of what someone has called “the purple circle.”

Gilo
Gilo
26 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

Three recent related events have highlighted the need for structural reform: 1. Elliott Review ‘translation’ by Archbishops Council in Church House. 2. Christ Church core group and misappropriation of the NST 3. Letter to the Charity Commission which attracted a range of signatures. Good move on the part of Ab Council to indicate trajectory of greater independence. And good that the Archbishops spoke clearly to this. Next step will be the thorny issue of accountability and how a senior layer comes to good. With processes that have clearly failed – I now believe the ‘purple circle’ will need to hold… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
25 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

There has clearly been a difference in the treatment meted out to, e.g., Bp. Bell, Dean Martyn Percy, Archbishop George Carey, and Bp. Christopher LOwson on the one hand; and e.g. Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, and Bishop Steven Croft on the other. I hope the new scheme will iron out these anomalies.

I welcome it as a sign of real progress, at last.

Kate
Kate
24 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

It would build confidence were the archbishops to ask for their own cases to be re-examined by an independent third party.

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
23 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Totally agree!

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
23 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

As one who has been in the middle of, and suffered because of, the favouritism and protection of bishops I can assure you it not only has happened…it still goes on.

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
23 days ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

Why would Sentamu, Croft, Snow, Webster and Burrows take advantage of the one year rule to block investigations into themselves if they have nothing to hide? And why is Justin Welby covering up for them and not wanting a genuine independent investigation to see what happened and check their behaviour?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
26 days ago

Why the deafening silence from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby?

He has had much to say on the subject for more than five years. Why the sudden silence now?

The least one would expect is a joint Archbishops’ Statement.

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
26 days ago

The energy for this change is being led by both Archbishops. Their personal authority and commitment is behind these announcements.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
26 days ago

I stand corrected – thanks. Should have read it properly.

Kate
Kate
26 days ago

This sounds like a very positive change of course.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
26 days ago

I don’t think there is any doubt that the pilot scheme is a clear decision which we can welcome unconditionally. There was a real and unavoidable tension between approaches, which were both advanced in good faith and each had merit. Getting a comprehensive scheme to deliver fair and consistent outcomes must be the ultimate goal but the scoping of that project indicated that it would take considerable time, given the legislative processes. The pilot scheme “ gets on with it” in a less comprehensive but pragmatic way- we will learn on the job but some high need victims will get… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
26 days ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

“it would help enormously if the Church were to identify the specific areas where our critique has been heard and accepted. We can then stop fighting yesterday’s battles and concentrate on the future. We can’t do that as we would wish if there is a wishy washy approach to acknowledging the past. Specifics would really help”

Specifics are imperative in acknowledging the mistakes of the past. General “wishy-washy”, empty apologies will simply re-ignite “yesterday’s battles” and will prevent us all from moving forward together.

Last edited 26 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
26 days ago

[[ The website is showing the comment boxes for typing into only about 25 characters wide, with a large stretch of blank screen to the left: Safari 14 on MacOS 10.15.6 ]] Simon Butler’s words below are welcome. But this press release is not of itself reassuring, and I wonder why it is written as it is. It goes into some length about regret about the past, but says nothing comprehensible about the future for those outside the process — who presumably don’t need a press release to tell them things they already know. The effect, which I am sure… Read more »

Kate
Kate
25 days ago

Comment box on Android is even smaller!

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
25 days ago

“Archbishops of Canterbury and York…’As we await IICSA’s report into the Church of England we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed. We are profoundly sorry for our failings, but today our words of sorrow are matched by actions…'”

If that is indeed the case – and not just the usual words of empty apology – may I suggest one specific “action” before the IICSA report is made public:

Reinstate the historic building at 4 Canon Lane Chichester back to its original name of George Bell House.

Last edited 25 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
25 days ago

I think that would be a terrible regressive step.

There is a move away from naming buildings after people. I think the Church ought to be at the forefront of that, recognising that in most cases it is a practice which tends to recognise prominent figures and is incompatible with “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”.

Also, “George Bell House” has no missional value. The practice should be things like “Trinity House”.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
25 days ago
Reply to  Kate

“George Bell House has no missional value” There is a Bishop Bell portrait, put in storage within Chichester Cathedral Library in 2015, with a Plaque below it which reads: “Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator… Read more »

Sandra Saer
25 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I totally agree with Richard Symonds, with whom, along with many others, I have worked tirelessly these last few years to have Bishop George Bell reinstated in his proper place in living history, and the reinstating of the house, as it was named after him by former Archbishop Rowan Williams, in the company of Mother Angela, and of Sister Jane, CSC, whose book, SURPRISED BY JOY I was privileged to publish.

You may like to visit my website, to see the story.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
25 days ago
Reply to  Sandra Saer

“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed” – Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Church has failed Bishop George Bell, and will continue to do so until the name of George Bell House is restored.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
24 days ago

Richard: Doesn’t it also require a personal retraction, however brief, of “the significant cloud” by both the Archbishop and the Bishop of Chichester?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
24 days ago

Personally-speaking RW, I don’t think it is psychologically possible for either Archbishop Welby or Bishop Warner to back down on the “significant cloud” smear on Bishop Bell. They seem fixated on the idea there is ‘no smoke without fire’, even though the Carlile and Briden reports [commissioned by the Church] have clearly shown there is ‘no smoke no fire’. But whatever their personal problems with Bishop Bell, they have the power to restore the name of George Bell House and heal serious divisions within a Cathedral community by doing so. It is also within their power to commission another report… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
23 days ago

I sense a ‘Public Excoriation’ of the Church by IICSA on October 6 at Midday

Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

RWS: and surely that is the reason why this C of E statement and policy (there is no “independence” by the way) have been announced now? I might almost suspect that they know what IICSA will say and are getting their damage limitation in first. Cynical, moi?.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
23 days ago

“You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”

Sir Francis Urquhart – House of Cards

Last edited 23 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
23 days ago

And why arent they personally apologising on behalf of the church to victims? You can be raped by a vicar in a vicarage and they cant even say to that victim they are sorry for the abuse.
It’s a bit like the church being investors in Wonga and thereby taking advantage at the expense of the vulnerable ….and criticising Wonga for doing the very thing they invest in themselves.

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