Thinking Anglicans

The CofE appoints its first permanent national Director of Safeguarding

The Church of England announced today that Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as its first permanent Director of Safeguarding.


First national Director of Safeguarding appointed
10/04/2019

Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as the Church of England’s first permanent Director of Safeguarding. She takes over from Sir Roger Singleton who took up an interim role at the beginning of the year.

Melissa has a strong professional background in adult and children’s services over a 20-year career, with particular experience of child protection and safeguarding, and a track record of leading good and outstanding children’s services in local authorities.

As executive director she has overseen the Bi-Borough response to non-current child sexual abuse and been the London lead Director of Children’s Services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, working with Government departments to develop a stronger national response. Melissa has overseen the provision of support for children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, also reporting to the Government’s Taskforce.

Prior to her current role she was Director of Family Services for the City of Westminster where she led the service to an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating in 2016. She was formerly a divisional director in the London Borough of Harrow and Director of Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion in the London Borough of Merton.

Melissa studied English at Oxford University followed by a Master’s in social work at Exeter University; she also has a range of management and leadership qualifications including from the Warwick University Business School.

Commenting on her appointment Melissa said: “I am proud to be taking on the role of National Director of Safeguarding for the Church of England. My career has been dedicated to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and helping families in need.

“I am determined to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all, and I look forward to applying my professional experience and expertise to this challenge.”

William Nye, Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, said: “I am delighted by the appointment of Melissa Caslake to this role. The Church of England has come a long way in improving its safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in recent years, particularly since the establishment of the national safeguarding team in 2015. But there is much still to do, and the creation of a director post for safeguarding recognises that.

“We have been fortunate in the last few months to have Sir Roger Singleton filling the post on an interim basis and now to have someone with the experience and seniority of Melissa to fill the post on a permanent basis, and to take the national Church’s safeguarding work to a new level. She will be an excellent addition to the Council’s leadership team, and I am very pleased to welcome her to Church House.”

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “I welcome the appointment of Melissa as the Church of England’s first Director of Safeguarding. Her strong, professional background and experience will strengthen the National Team as it continues its work at a time of increasing demand. Melissa’s appointment is part of our commitment to ensuring the Church is a safer place for all and she will take on leadership of the team as we approach our main IICSA hearing. I look forward to working with her in my role as lead safeguarding bishop.”

Melissa’s start date will be confirmed in due course.

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Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

This looks to be good news. Ms. Caslake looks very well qualified for the role. Now they just need to appoint a full-time, permanent person to manage care of victims and survivors.

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

Janet beat me to asking the first necessary clarification. Is Ms Caslake focussed on Safeguarding ( preventative ) and/or victim care ( pastoral/supportive ) ?

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

And a full-time, permanent person to manage care of clergy victims and survivors who have been wrongly or falsely accused?

I am not joking.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Erm… Why? Nationally we have Victim Support to assist victims of crime – whether or not that has been proven in court – but society hasn’t seen a need to establish a major charity to care for those the police falsely or wrongly accuse.of crime. What is so special about clergy that those falsely accused should get support which wouldn’t be available to their parishioners if they have been wrongly accused of crime?

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Certainly all those who are accused should have good pastoral care. It’s hard to see how that could be limited to those falsely accused, since that can’t be determined until after an investigation is complete. Support needs to be offered as soon as an allegation is made. You’re right that it should be independent of the diocese, because discipline and pastoral care can’t effectively be carried out by the same structures. However, there are fewer accused than victims; an abuser may have multiple victims (and often does). And the Church has responsibility only for accused office-holders and their families; whereas… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

It’s important that the needs of ‘the accused’ do not eclipse the needs of the greater number of victims. Pastoral care should be provided to anyone who seeks it, victim or accused. That’s obvious Christian compassion. However, if we champion a person who’s been accused, there is a danger that will denigrate and stifle the voices of the victims who, in many cases, need courage to finally do what they have every right to do: voice complaint for crimes done against them. The Church has to take responsibility for abuse carried out under the umbrella of its organisation, and that… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“It should be a primary duty of care that, in the first instance, the victim is believed…” No, no – and again, no Susannah. As already said, the professional approach is neither to believe nor disbelieve the complainant and their allegations [eg ‘Carol’]. There is no right or entitlement for the complainant [eg ‘Carol’] to be believed that it was one particular named person [eg Bishop Bell] who abused them, but there is a right and entitlement for the complainant [eg ‘Carol’] to be treated with respect, to take their allegation seriously, to listen to them with compassion, and to… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I think there is a confusion of roles here. Investigators must remain neutral and unbiased while they search out the truth. But those offering pastoral support, and especially counselling, proceed on the basis the complainant is telling the truth. That’s important for therapeutic rapport. And it’s one of several reasons why the roles must be separated. The Church cannot both investigate impartially and offer support to the complainant. We need mandatory reporting so none of the decisions about investigating are in-house.

The safeguarding and victim support roles need to be separated too, they’re quite different and need different skills and mindset.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

It would appear the Church is attempting to maintain control of all roles at any cost. If so, then the primary at issue is one of power and control. This shows the wisdom of what Richard Scorer – Counsel for complainants, victims and survivors, represented by Slater & Gordon – said on March 5 last year at the IICSA: “…this is not simply an issue of attitude but of competence too. This is a point which has been made powerfully by Martin Sewell, who is both a lay member of the General Synod and a retired child protection lawyer. He… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Yes, the issue is very much that of power. And tragically, too often those who have most power in the Church are those least to be trusted with it.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Who wields the most power within the Church?

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

The real danger of centralised power within the Church of England – or any other large corporate body – is that it will become efficient and effective only in the interests of the most powerful within it, and who control it. Can these ‘central controllers’ act in the best interests of those local church communities which they serve, or will they act in their own best interests by protecting and preserving their power?

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think there is a confusion of roles here. Investigators must remain neutral and unbiased while they search out the truth. But those offering pastoral support, and especially counselling, proceed on the basis the complainant is telling the truth. That’s important for therapeutic rapport. And it’s one of several reasons why the roles must be separated. The Church cannot both investigate impartially and offer support to the complainant. We need mandatory reporting so none of the decisions about investigating are in-house. – Janet In a short paragraph you have got to the heart of much of it. If I had… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

We can learn much from the Roman Catholics in the United States who, it seems to me, have been grappling with the problems – and trying to find solutions – in a far more practical, realistic way than the Church of England in this country. For example, “Catholic Priests Falsely Accused” by David F. Pierre and “Hope Springs Eternal In The Priestly Breast” – A Research Study on Procedural Justice for Priests – by James Valladares are enlightening, and they are only two of a considerable number. In this country, we have FACT [Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers] and FASO… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Most dioceses have a counselling scheme available to clergy and readers, and those accused can seek help there, as can survivors and victims who are clergy or readers. There’s a gap, however, with victims who are not eligible for the clergy counselling scheme; and many victims of church abuse would hesitate to ask for counselling via the organisation that abused them.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

William Nye, Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, says: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Nye_(courtier) “The Church of England has come a long way in improving its safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in recent years, particularly since the establishment of the national safeguarding team in 2015″ This “courtier and civil servant” seems to have his eyes wide shut, not least to the Church Statement regarding Bishop Bell on Oct 22 2015: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/safeguarding/safeguarding-news-and-statements/statement-rt-revd-george-bell-1883-1958 Perhaps the Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council missed this ‘elephant in the room’, and also what was said by a survivor in the SCIE Church Abuse Report: “The current two Archbishops… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

It makes me wonder if William Nye – Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council – ever read Section 8.4 of the SCIE Church Abuse report: “People stressed that what they need to see is the Church responding with urgency and thoroughness, with openness and honesty. They need to see humility and readiness from all individuals to acknowledge past failings, regardless of the person’s current status within the Church….a blame culture often inhibits such openness and honesty about mistakes. The Church has potentially additional inhibitors, not least the question of how acceptable it is deemed to be for a person of… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I’m sure Mr William Nye is a very decent and honourable human being, yet what he says here suggests he is not part of the solution.

Bill Broadhead
Guest
Bill Broadhead

A graduate of the Warwick University Business School, I see. That will have been an important box to tick in the current culture. And while this is a very welcome appointment, only a fool would sit back and relax, believing that safeguarding in the C of E is on a completely sure footing. Ms Caslake will be an employee of NCIs and, given the rejection of recent moves to make safeguarding provision completely independent of the hierarchy, her hands will always be tied. Mr Nye can talk about ‘taking safeguarding work to a new level’ all he likes, but this… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I agree. No matter how qualified the appointee is, that cannot overcome the structural, governance issues.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

This is clearly a separate role from Meg Munn’s appointment as the ‘Independent Chair of the Church of England’s Safeguarding Panel’. But I’m afraid the distinction between Director and Chair escapes me. I suspect that Director is the senior and wider role, but how does that square with having a separate Chair? Can the Director participate in the work of the Panel, or oversee it? I haven’t seen a structure which explains this, but doubtless experienced TA contributors will know.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Melissa Caslake “the first permanent director of safeguarding…will be part of the senior management of the Archbishops’ Council, and will report directly to its secretary-general, William Nye. As director she will also be senior to the national safeguarding adviser, Graham Tilby, who leads the national safeguarding team, which now numbers 13 staff. This is separate from the national safeguarding panel, which includes survivors, and the lead bishop on safeguarding, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock. This is now chaired independently by Meg Munn…” [‘New director to steer the safeguarders’, Church Times, April 12 2019 – Hattie Williams – Page 3]. You… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you. I now understand, at least, that the National Safeguarding Team and the National Safeguarding Panel are not the same thing.

I’m still nonplussed (the politest word) by the acting person in charge of the first body initiating a CDM against the Bishop of Chester and the chair of the second one suggesting that the Bishop should “consider resigning”, in both cases doing so in advance of the already announced Official Investigation – but accept that this is a separate (although not wholly unrelated) matter.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure” – ‘A Survivor’

[Source: “Child abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester’s misconduct complaint” – Chester Standard – April 11 2019]

https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/17567171.church-abuse-survivors-speak-out-over-handling-of-bishop-of-chester-misconduct-complaint/

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure” One of their biggest past mistakes being, of course, the Bishop Bell debacle. The original investigating team, under the control of William Nye, acted as ‘judge and jury’ – in other words, acted as ‘a kangaroo court’. IICSA, Carlile and Briden have already made this abundantly clear. “The senior level of the Church of England” have been unable to admit their own failure in this regard – and have resorted… Read more »

John Swanson
Guest
John Swanson

““The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure” One of their biggest past mistakes being, of course, the Bishop Bell debacle. ” I respectfully suggest (speaking as someone who has previously described the Bishop Bell affair here as a fiasco and a shambles) that the Bishop Bell affair is nowhere near being “one of their biggest mistakes”. The Bishop Ball affair, now that was one (and just one) of their biggest past mistakes. But, again with respect, your… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

My chief criticism of ‘Safeguarding’ – as defined, implemented and controlled by the “senior layer of the Church of England – is that it perpetuates injustice by being so narrow in its definition, implementation and control.

To avoid miscarriages of justice, ALL parties must be safeguarded – and that must include those who are abused and those who are falsely and wrongfully accused of abuse.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Whilst it is true, sadly, there are ‘rogue elements’ embedded within the “senior layer of the Church of England” which are perpetuating injustices – such as the injustice to Bishop Bell – the Church itself, fortunately, has more deeply embedded within it the Christ-like principles and values (honed over the centuries) of truth and justice.

So, there is good reason to hope – not despair – in the sad situation we are in at present.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

If he was alive today, what would the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell do – and say – in this ‘safeguarding’ mess in which he was embroiled? What would Bishop Bell do? Last February, one answer to that question was given by Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – the daughter of Franz Hildebrandt [great friend and colleague of both the Bishop and Dietrich Bonhoeffer]: http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/2019/02/10/10-ruth-hildebrandt-grayson/ What would Bishop Bell say? In 1993 [26 years ago], one answer to that question was [indirectly] given by Alan Wilkinson – “Britain and the Threat to Stability in Europe, 1918-45” (page 77): “Bell shared the… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The area which he [Lord Carlile] has rightly…identified is that there was nobody there [in the Core Group] to speak for Bishop Bell, and that, again…is something that I think was wrong…”

~ The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – Day 8 IICSA Inquiry – Chichester – 14 March 2018 – Page 21 Paras 14-18

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

If there had been somebody there [in the Core Group] to speak in Bishop Bell’s defence, as there should have been morally and legally, this mess – entirely of the Church’s own making – would have been easily avoided. Why the Church – especially ++Welby and +Warner – cannot simply apologise and admit a mistake is beyond me. Is it the deadly sin of Pride which makes for moral blindness and an inability to admit wring? If it is, then we should expect more from our Archbishop and Bishop. Meanwhile, Bishop Bell continues speaks with as much moral authority and… Read more »