on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 at 12.03 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church in Wales, Church of England, Safeguarding
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.
Here is a link to the Recommendations section of the report. And here is a link to the Executive Summary.
Initial media coverage:
The Church can consider that it has got away lightly, perhaps very lightly, with this report. IICSA suggests that the Church retains control of its processes, subject to third party audit. The retention of its autonomy is presumably the key prize for the Church. This is significant in a wider sense, not least because it suggests there will be no composite national agency for all abuse cases. The multiplicity of diocesan arrangements will also endure. The remarks about EI in para. 29 of p. 112 are especially striking. Some victims (I can think of one conspicuous example) can at least… Read more »
I think you mean retrospective application not effect? The question as to whether someone is fit to hold office is a current one, regardless of the time of the alleged infraction. To bring in revised legislation which would say that allegations of misconduct before some arbitrary date are less important than allegations after that date would be preposterous.
Apologies, Kate. I meant that the opportunistic use of the 12 month rule in the past will probably not be covered by future legislation, which will operate prospectively. I suspect that the Legal Office will probably apply a variant of the old maxim ‘nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali’ (i.e., if someone is let off under the old rules then they cannot be held to account if the rules subsequently change). I believe that recourse was had to the 12 month rule in one well-known instance and it has meant that the applicable victim was unable to obtain… Read more »
The Legal office might suggest something like that but I hope Synod would refuse to endorse it.
Froghole and Kate: The twelve months’ rule does not apply to “conduct of a sexual nature towards a child” (CDM 9 (2)). I’m sure everyone knows this. Effectively, there is no limitation period for direct abuse of a child, and the President of Tribunals has powers to disapply the rule in relation to abuse of adults. But the rule can also be disapplied in other cases if the President of Tribunals considers it to be justified, and she did so, I believe, in the case of Bishop Peter Forster, the former Bishop of Chester. This is the current position. The CDM 2003 is… Read more »
So presumably Synod could pass a motion calling for the 12 month limit to be disapplied in every safeguarding case?
GS could pass a motion calling for the change, but that would not effect the change. I’m not sure whether that was your thinking. It would require legislation to amend the CDM which, in any event, is under revision. What you ask is one of the IICSA’s recommendations. We must wait and see how the Church responds to it.
There is a fuller discussion of this on Stephen Parsons’ blog ‘Surviving Church’ – see 6 October “Rebuilding trust after the IICSA Report”.
Very much a fence sitting report as far as I am concerned in terms of the future of safeguarding in the church. I am having real trouble squaring what is essentially a damning indictment of the church’s actions in the past with the relatively weak recommendations to make some changes in operational responsibilities. It is difficult for me to see how bishops will not retain positions of significant influence (albeit indirect) over safeguarding in the new proposals. Does this really change that much?
So this is why the Church of England was holding back from any fundamental reforms to its safeguarding policies in advance of the IICSA report: hedging its bets to see what it could get away with in terms of retaining control of its processes. Long term, this is not going to lead to a thoroughly victim and survivor focused enterprise. Doubtless, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Luther Pendragon will continue to be key players.
As a retired bishop recently remarked, when a church has to employ reputational management consultants, you know the game’s over and the emperor has no clothes.
It’s not as if ‘reputation management’ has even worked! I hope the money will be demanded back and repaid, together with the ‘cost of staff time’ in briefing and commissioning the ‘work’ and the huge cost (including emotional) of reputational damage caused. There was a time when the ‘honourable thing to do’ was to fall on one’s sword- we are kinder today, no futile sacrifice required, Perkins, only an impression of crocodile tears required. William Tyndale,’Translator of the Scriptures, Reformation Martyr’, was executed by strangulation and burnt at the stake while praying that the King of England’s eyes be opened;… Read more »
The IICSA report does not help its own credibility by a glaring error in which it states that ordination to the priesthood normally comes at the end of a person’s curacy (see para 72). Normally priestly ordination takes place (as readers of TA will know) a year into the curacy – and the person then has one or two more years to spend as curate.
The report also claims that Living in Love and Faith has been published, but it isn’t until next month. Surprised that didn’t get corrected.
Recommendation 4, linked to the absence of adequate data recording in the Church in Wales, comes as no surprise. About eight years ago, a journalist colleague of mine was investigating a series of bullying concerns in one North Wales diocese with complaints being directed against at least one member of senior staff. When he enquired about how many bullying complaints the Provincial authorities in the Church in Wales had received in relation to this diocese, he was told that this information was not recorded.
Thank you Alan for raising the issue of bullying in churches. I am a social psychologist and my research area is workplace bullying, in particular within churches. Record keeping is very often the elephant in the room when it comes to any sort of abuse. One of the major problems when looking at bullying is that on its own, each incident can often, though not always, be seen as trivial. It is the sum of the incidents which is so destroying and damaging. I remember more than one participant in a study describing bullying as “the drip, drip, drip of… Read more »
“One incumbent put it that he wanted to arrive in a new parish which was a new slate on which he would write.” I fully sympathise with this if the person quoted doesn’t want to start his new ministry having heard that “Jack is a pain in the neck and Jill a cloth-moth.” But not passing on details of abuse? I’m shocked!
It wasn’t a question of not passing the details on, it was more that he refused to hear it.
Thank you for this, Anne, and for highlighting the importance of (accurate) record keeping in the Church of England. This can sometimes be linked to bullying. My experience of Church bullying came after I requested that a senior cleric register a safeguarding concern about an incident which I had had with a clergyperson. This was at the same time as I was going through the discernment process. I was ultimately turned down for ministry. Afterwards, a Subject Access Request revealed that not only were significant details omitted from the Safeguarding Team’s record of the incident (taken from this senior cleric),… Read more »
‘…lasting change will require more than platitudes.’ This should be inscribed in the heart of every bishop and clergy person. Too often, no matter what the issue, whether abuse, gender, sexuality, injustices of various sorts, we are presented with platitudes from the pulpit, on line and in print. Even in response to the report we get guff about ‘ learning lessons’. This must stop.
Yesterday the Bishop of Carlisle was reported to have given a reference for a jailed abuser. Today the IICSA report does not recommend the church hand over safeguarding to an outside agency but can continue with a few tweaks to manage safeguarding. Really? There can be no confidence this will result in a robust and clear system and that lessons have truly been learned. The systems and people running them are not adequate or fit for purpose. Yesterday’s news, after everything that has happened, showed just how flawed the systems are and how no one is truly accountable.The recommendations, after… Read more »
I share the astonishment of Marise and others at the contrast between the scathing criticism and the weak recommendations. But I note that the Times and Guardian have both led their reports on safeguarding responsibility being taken away from the bishops. But how can that be when the new DSO reports to the DBF and hence ultimately to the bishop? Am I missing something?
My reading is that they are funded by the DBF but report to the national body that supervises (using its technical social work context meaning) and quality assures. Therefore beyond having an open chequebook the DBF should have no influence if what is recommended is delivered. As I mention elsewhere, how the national element is set up will determine whether this is successful, or not.
Thanks, NJW, for pointing out that distinction. It may work but it is hard to believe that ‘he who pays the piper’ will not continue to have an influence.
Given the long history of repeated failure, scathingly catalogued in the report, I just don’t think it’s a big enough change to make the necessary difference.
Do people think a shift from Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor to Diocesan Safeguarding Officer will make a difference to the current situation in which dioceses are still able to do their own thing?
No. If someone is beholden to the Diocese for pay and rations there is no true independence of thought and action.
I think that this is a more radical shift (from a diocesan perspective, at least) than it seems at face value. Whilst the recommendation places the financial obligation on the diocese to fund the post, the fact that it will be supervised and quality assured by a national body effectively creates a national safeguarding organisation that short-circuits almost all (if not all) the tactics that might in the past have frustrated efforts to provide the responses that should have taken place. In effect the DSO within this structure could become part of a structure similar to the professional standards or… Read more »
There seems to be a problem with the MACSAS press release.
I hope that it is now fixed.
Marion Owen: “So this is why the Church of England was holding back from any fundamental reforms to its safeguarding policies in advance of the IICSA report: hedging its bets to see what it could get away with in terms of retaining control of its processes. Long term, this is not going to lead to a thoroughly victim and survivor focused enterprise. Doubtless, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Luther Pendragon will continue to be key players. As a retired bishop recently remarked, when a church has to employ reputational management consultants, you know the game’s over and the emperor has no clothes”… Read more »
A deeply disappointing report.
I don’t see any effective accountability mechanism being proposed here; any forum which, like the Inquiry itself, might have the power publicly to examine the documents, words and actions of leaders and church officials alike and ask them to account for their actions.
I fear we will now move smoothly, phase by phase, from the ‘Acknowledge Past Failures’ language, through the ‘Lessons Learned’ syntax, drawing on the ‘Rebuilding Robustness’ lexicon before being able to ‘move on.’
Nothing to see here, I’m afraid. The Bishops, collectively, failed catastrophically; and need to be rebuked as a College.
I agree with all the other disappointed contributors. I have written this on the Surviving Church website.
I do wonder whether people’s expectations of the outcome of the IICSA investigation have been unrealistic. IICSA have identified many areas where the Church of England has been hugely at fault, and essentially they are saying: ‘This is what you have done egregiously wrong and here is the evidence. Now sort it out.’ They have made some recommendations, but they do not have the mandate, nor the time, nor—I imagine—the skill to produce a new safeguarding policy for the C of E. We should not criticise them for that. It is now a matter for the leaders of the C… Read more »
This will not really work, I’m afraid; if the problem appears to be rooted in the way episcopal leadership is being exercised, expecting leaders – episcopal and managerial – so clearly damned by the litany of failure magically to change into successful ones with a whole new approach on the back of a single report is asking for the moon.
‘Action this day’ is no good if it’s the wrong action carried out in the wrong way by the wrong people.
Further to my earlier post, I have noticed that the CT article by an anonymous author, to which I referred, was only in the online edition, not the print version.
I agree, David, that, in an ideal world, the bishops should be responsible for everything in their dioceses, including safeguarding, but there has been such a long history of failure in handling safeguarding issues, including by some of the most senior bishops in the Church, that they cannot currently be trusted to do so effectively. You say that IICSA doesn’t have the time or the expertise to sort it out but, with all due respect, neither do the bishops. That is why I was hoping for clearer and firmer recommendations in the report, instead of just an admonition to ‘sort… Read more »
Here is an example of sloppy journalism which damages truth and justice for those victims and survivors of abuse, and those victims and survivors falsely accused of abuse. When reading the Argus article, be aware that ex-Bishop Peter Ball was found guilty in a criminal court of law, while wartime Bishop of Chichester was found not guilty by two separate investigations by Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church. I look forward to the Church of England Comms correcting this media sloppiness – just as I look forward to flying pigs getting landing rights… Read more »