Independent Safeguarding Board claims its work is being obstructed
Updated Monday to include ISB’s own annual report puiblished 24 April 2023:
Scroll down for other later updates
Gabriella Swerling reports in the Telegraph: Church of England ‘obstructing its own safeguarding panel’ as calls grow for new chairman.
The Church of England is obstructing its own safeguarding panel by denying them their own computers, refusing to share data and treating them with “hostility”, whistleblowers have told The Telegraph.
The Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) was formed in January 2022 and tasked with scrutinising the work of the Church’s National Safeguarding Team (NST), as well as holding the Church to account regarding its safeguarding duties.
However, the ISB’s only two board members have come forward to claim that their experience working with Church officials is “an uphill battle and unnecessarily challenging”.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, who founded the Karma Nirvana charity which aims to end honour-based abuse, and Steve Reeves MBE, executive director of Global Safeguarding, raised the alarm.
They claim there has been “clear interference” with their work, a “lack of transparency” and a “reluctance to provide information” meaning that at times they have been “met with hostility”
Their concerns have been echoed by victims who claim that unless the Church revokes its “inappropriate and irresponsible” appointment of the new ISB chair as Meg Munn – the former foreign office minister who already holds posts within the Church of England – they will not only feel “re-abused” but they will also refuse to work with the ISB and share their testimonies…
And there is a great deal more detail, which should be read in full, if possible.
Donna Birrell has this follow-up report at Premier Christian News: Church of England accused of ‘obstructing’ Independent Safeguarding Board. That includes these reactions:
In a statement to Premier, Martin Sewell who is a member of General Synod said :
“These latest revelations confirm the serious concerns that I, survivors, and members of General Synod have repeatedly raised about the lack of independence in the Established Church’s responses to the IICSA enquiry. I thank the two ISB members for bravely aligning themselves with those of us calling for a comprehensive and open debate of this scandal on the floor of Synod.”
In a statement to Premier Bishop Joanne Grenfell, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said:
“The Independent Safeguarding Board was set up to provide important external scrutiny for the Church’s safeguarding work and it is vital that the right structures are in place to do this.
“We look forward to working with them as they begin the next phase of their work to scope out what these structures are and to having conversations about concerns they have raised. An acting chair was put in place until the end of the year to ensure continuity and I look forward to working with all three Board members.
“We welcome their annual report (being published tomorrow) and note their comments around their work to date and desire to continue with this independent scrutiny of the Church’s safeguarding. It is vital that we have independent scrutiny as this informs the core responsibility for all in the Church of ensuring good safeguarding in all our parishes kand settings across the country. This important work goes on every day of the year. “
Hattie Williams Church Times Independent Safeguarding Board seeks to extricate itself from the Church of England
House of Survivors has a useful ISB timeline on this page.
The response from Joanne Grenfell quoted by Premier can now be found here. It appears that it was not written as a response to the Telegraph article, but in order to link the ISB annual report to the CofE website.