The Church Times today has several items about safeguarding in the Church of England. Each of them is worth reading in full. Here are the links, with only brief quotes from each.
SURVIVORS of church-based abuse and their advocates have expressed dismay both at further delays to the national redress scheme promised by the Church of England and that the cost of it is to be met by dioceses and PCCs…
…In a written question to the General Synod, published two days before the meeting in York, Tina Nay (Chichester) asked whether the timeline for the full redress scheme was on track, in line with the “15 to 18 months” given by the lead bishop for safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, in a BBC interview in October 2020.
Responding, Dr Gibbs wrote that the comments had been made before a project team had been employed (in April 2021), and that, having researched other schemes of a similar scale, and owing to a planned procurement process and possible legislation, the full scheme was now due to be final completed in 2024 or 2025, with a pilot phase to be completed in 2023…
Links to items mentioned in this article
- General Synod Questions and Answers on Safeguarding
- Update on national Redress Scheme 06/07/2022
- Letter from Andrew Graystone (scroll down) which concludes this way
…Still more alarming was the news from the Chair of the Finance Committee that the costs of redress will not be met wholly by the Church Commissioners, but by individual parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, colleges, and so on. Nothing in the Church’s recent history of caring for victims suggests that this will go well. When the scheme eventually opens, I fear that we will see an ugly and protracted scramble as each institution seeks to minimise its responsibilities. Some colleges, cathedrals, and dioceses that are likely to face multiple claims, such as Sheffield, Chester, and Chichester, may well be bankrupted by it. More importantly, this process will pitch survivors into a nightmare of long and costly legal battles, sometimes with multiple church bodies.This is not what redress should look like. The re-dressing of survivors’ wounds is not a drag on resources, but a missional opportunity for the national Church. It is a chance to do justice, and to begin to reverse the mainstream perception that the Church doesn’t care for those whom it has wounded.Where the national Church is serious about missional issues such as racial justice or the environment, funds are provided by the Church Commissioners. Surely, we need the same commitment from the Commissioners, together with a far greater urgency, in doing justice for those whose lives have been devastated by their contact with the Church.
A COMPLAINT by a survivor of clerical abuse that the first chair of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), Professor Maggie Atkinson, broke data-protection rules during their correspondence, has been upheld by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)….
And, by the way, the twice promised website for the ISB has still not yet appeared at the time of writing.
There is a further letter to the editor, just below the one from Andrew Graystone. This one is from David Lamming about the ISB, and its role in relation to the Christ Church Oxford dispute. He concludes:
…There is a clear need for the fully independent inquiry that Dr Percy is seeking. The problem is that the issue is at one and the same time too small and too big. It is too small to justify a formal inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 (which would need to be ordered by a government minister), such as the current Infected Blood inquiry. But, in embracing both Christ Church Cathedral and the College, it is too big for either to handle.
Moreover, any inquiry would need to investigate the role of Oxford diocese and the NST as an agent of the Archbishops’ Council. All these bodies are charities, and it is for this reason, I suggest, that the Charity Commission should step in and appoint a judge-led or senior-lawyer-led inquiry with wide terms of reference. Only such an inquiry would be truly independent and command the necessary confidence.