Thinking Anglicans

Proposals on NST independent oversight published

See previous report from 15 December.

CofE press release today:

The Archbishops’ Council has approved the next steps in independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (NST), with the first phase to be implemented by the summer. The paper by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown on the proposed interim arrangements is to be presented to General Synod members on Saturday. The proposals for this new structure were presented to an informal meeting of the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council this week, with Council members then approving the paper. During the meeting members noted the importance of being able to review the structure after a set period and further detail needed on Phase 2 once the Board was in place. Dr Brown noted his thanks to MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and members of the Survivors’ Reference Group who acted as consultants. Together, they formed a Focus Group and considered an early draft of the proposals and their report offered numerous comments and suggestions, with as many as possible incorporated into this paper.
The Archbishops’ Council originally voted on independent oversight in December.

The paper containing the proposals as issued to General Synod is a page longer than the version linked above.
Here is a link to the copy that includes the cover page (total page count 20).

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

Here is a link to the copy that includes the cover page (total page count 20). Page 17 – 5. Independent roles in Core Groups The Survivors’ Focus Group noted that survivors have felt disadvantaged and unrepresented on Core Groups and that this constitutes an imbalance of power. A review of Core Groups is currently being undertaken, which will include consideration of survivors’ criticisms of present practices. The ISB [Independent Safeguarding Board], as proposed in Phase 1, is not designed to play a direct role in Core Groups. The question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
5 months ago

Awful, simply awful. It fails to make the NST operational structure independent which is the critical step. It fails to remove the risk of political involvement in the safeguarding process, both to proceed with complaints for potentially political reasons or alternatively to block them. Removing responsibility for Core Groups from the independent body is equally disastrous. This looks like an attempt to claim independence of safeguarding while retaining full political control in practice.   At a secondary level, too little thought has been given to the risk of part time posts. Postholders may need to find appointment for the remainder… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Kate
5 months ago

I am reminded of the words of Rosie Harper – Vicar of Great Missenden, Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford – in Fiona Gardner’s book ‘Sex, Power, Control” [p 4]:

‘Everyone “is working very hard to produce new systems and more training and issue more apologies. It is hard to see this as anything other than moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic”‘

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
5 months ago

I cannot comment on the 20 page paper yet as it only arrived yesterday evening and, I suspect like most people, I have a pretty full day at work. But I will read it this evening as this is a matter of great importance.
Will there be a chance for discussion at Synod on Saturday or is this paper a basis for a presentation without discussion/debate/comment/questions? I confess I am slightly confused by just what an ‘informal’ meeting of Synod actually means.

Charles Read
Reply to  Judith Maltby
5 months ago

There is no discussion of anything tomorrow. I am with new curates and LLMs most of the day…

Ellen
Ellen
5 months ago

Independence is dead easy. You set up a foundation, and give it sufficient endowment to get on with the job. That was mentioned in the bowels of this 20-page paper, but will predictably be ignored. IICSA’s final report on the CofE next summer will almost certainly recommend taking safeguarding out of the hands of the Church entirely and vesting it in a new statutory body — with the Church required to pay its share of the costs.  

Helen King
Helen King
5 months ago

Typos can be revealing. Is this an example? On the ‘club mentality’ of the C of E we read that this “is exacerbated in an institution where ordination conveys authority which can leads to a culture of clericalism in which challenging the authority of the ordained becomes a kind of spiritual offence.” To me that suggests one draft with “leads to” and then someone objecting and asking instead for “can lead to”. But maybe I spend too long analysing texts… 

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

This makes for uncomfortable reading – cognitive dissonance – but must be read: Excerpts from ‘Anonymous’: “This is where I struggle with the Church of England, NST and safeguarding…I cannot name a Diocesan Bishop who has, so far, acted with moral courage, or acted with any moral agency to call out the abuses. I see only process: just our numbed mitred-ones, “only obeying orders”……I see and hear leaders saying: “this is just the way it is at the moment”; “we are on a learning curve”; “we are on a journey”; “we are doing our best” and “we’ve come a long way”.… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

I have spent years now listening to those abused: the sexually abused, and the falsely accused. And yet as I read ‘Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England’, and what do I find? No heart or soul. The language of dull, dead process…Theology is an invitation to wake up. Abused lives matter too. If you are not angry, indeed boiling with righteous rage and faithful fury with the proposals in the latest ‘Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England’ document, then you are clearly not paying attention. Actually, you are not awake. What would it take, I wonder, to get our… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
5 months ago

Improving safeguarding is an absolute priority but I hope we (members of Synod) are not going to be asked today to vote on a paper that we received less than 48 hours ago. How can that be due diligence on our part? Process isn’t everything but it does matter and does shape culture.

Anne Foreman
Anne Foreman
Reply to  Judith Maltby
4 months ago

No voting at today’s informal general synod but questions may be put to the presenters via the chat function. Apologies you will know this by now

Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I am mystified by this safeguarding business. Were I seriously to suspect the person living round the corner to be involved in safeguarding (or any other) transgressions, I would report the matter to the police. I would not feel it necessary to report it to his or her employer. Why, then, does the institutional church need any mechanism at all for investigating suspected safeguarding issues? Report the matter to the civil authorities, let events take their course, and let the “employer” deal with the consequences if there is a guilty verdict. The prospect of a police investigation might deter mendacious… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I don’t know whether the McClean story at Terenure College Dublin has made it into the English press. McClean, now a convicted paedophile, once a teacher at one of the poshest fee-paying catholic rugby schools, then a mentor for the likes of Brian O’Driscoll. https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/johnny-watterson-i-do-not-buy-the-apology-around-paedophile-john-mcclean-1.4495265 (The fetishisation of rugby in posh Dublin schools is another issue). I would likely have taught some of those lads. This story rang bells in my mind – novelist John Boyne (striped pyjamas) was a pupil at Terenure and I can’t believe that his magnificent novel “A history of loneliness” is not based on elements… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

I’m trying not to be cynical about all this, but I did wonder what I was supposed to make of the report to my own diocesan synod that the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor is to become a Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. I do hope there’s a bit more to this independence business than a change of job title and a touch of window dressing.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

Changing DSAs to DSOs is in response to recommendation 1 of IICSA in its October 2020 report: “The Church of England should create the role of a diocesan safeguarding officer to replace the diocesan safeguarding adviser.”(p.116). It’s not just a job title change. DSOs “should have the authority to make decisions independently of the diocesan bishop in respect of key safeguarding tasks, including: i) escalating incidents to the National Safeguarding Team, statutory authorities and the Charity Commission; ii) advising on the suspension of clergy in safeguarding matters; iii) investigating and/or commissioning investigations into safeguarding incidents; iv) risk assessments and associated… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  David Lamming
4 months ago

Thank you – that’s helpful. The report to diocesan synod didn’t make that clear, and was really rather vague, possibly because who ever wrote it was trying to keep it brief.

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