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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

B.13: Current situation in Chichester

Changes within the national Church

518. In recent years, the Church of England has altered a significant number of its policies and practices in respect of safeguarding. Many of these changes were prompted by the findings of the Archepiscopal Visitation, which served to expose the serious failures and injustices of the Church’s existing systems. As Archbishop Justin Welby summarised:

The increased activity in relation to safeguarding has come out of a deep sense of conviction that there needed to be repentance for our past failures, and a consistency and quality of practice of safeguarding at all levels.[1]

519. The Visitation provided the impetus for the creation of the National Safeguarding Panel (NSP) in 2014. This is an advisory panel of external experts and survivors of sexual abuse, which meets four times each year. It provides the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops with high‑level strategic advice and direction on safeguarding. It also performs a key role in the development of national policy and guidance, in partnership with the Methodist Church.

520. In 2014, the House of Bishops approved the development of an independent programme of diocesan safeguarding audits. The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) was commissioned to deliver this programme, and all dioceses had been audited by the end of that year. The audits are currently being extended to cathedrals, Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe Palace. In its overview report to July 2016, SCIE identified that “there has in recent years been, and continues to be, progress towards embedding a safe culture”.[2]

521. The National Safeguarding Team (NST) was established in 2015. It led to the appointment of the Church’s first full‑time National Safeguarding Adviser which, in Archbishop Welby’s view, represented “a critical moment in the evolution of safeguarding practice within the Church of England”.[3] The NST provides advice and support to dioceses, cathedrals and National Church Institutions in respect of policies and training. It is described by Mr Graham Tilby as a “developing resource” which aims to provide the Church with coherent leadership in respect of safeguarding issues.[4]

522. In May 2016, the House of Bishops approved the creation of the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG). Its primary role is to offer strategic oversight of national safeguarding activity. It has a much more extensive remit than the NSP, which is an advisory body. Bishop Peter Hancock referred to the NSSG as “the main body in the Church of England for overseeing national safeguarding policy and activities at national level”.[5]

523. In 2018, the budget for the NST was £1.6 million. This included the appointment of a part‑time Human Resources Adviser, who provides specialist recruitment advice to dioceses and other Church bodies. The expansion of the NST has considerably improved the quality of training, policy and practice guidance within the Church.

524. In addition, the NST is currently in the process of developing the Safe Spaces project in collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church. This project represents a single national resource that can be accessed easily and swiftly. It provides pastoral support for victims of abuse, and allows for personal contact via a telephone helpline or email.

525. The NST recently supplied all dioceses with a copy of the Parish Safeguarding Handbook, which contains a range of tools to support day‑to‑day practice in the parishes. The handbook, along with all safeguarding policies and resources, is within an electronic manual, as part of the development of the national Safeguarding Hub. The Hub is designed to present safeguarding information in a user‑friendly way, and is referred to by Bishop Hancock as a “onestop shop for parishes and dioceses to access safeguarding resources”.[6]

526. On 1 January 2017, the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser Regulations came into force. These were issued by the House of Bishops under Canon C30, which was created in response to the findings of the Chichester Commissaries. The Regulations require all 42 dioceses to appoint a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (DSA). They allow the DSA to act independently of the bishop and diocese.

527. Regulation 4(1)(a) makes it clear that the DSA may make a referral to the police where he or she considers that to be desirable. The regulations present a specific example of the DSA’s power to override decisions made by clergy or others within a diocese.

528. Canon C30.2(1) gives an archbishop the power to direct a bishop who holds office in his or her province, or has authority to officiate in it or in a diocese, to undergo a risk assessment. It also enables each archbishop to direct the other archbishop to undergo a risk assessment. Canon C30(2) confers a corresponding power on a diocesan bishop, in relation to priests or deacons who have authority to officiate in the diocese.

529. In 2017, the national Church issued a further policy document entitled Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations.[7] This clarified the role and boundaries of a support person to victims once a disclosure of abuse has been made. It reiterates that all victims must be allocated a supporter, who may be an authorised listener specifically trained to hold this role. In October 2017, the NSSG also agreed further guidance called Key Roles and Responsibilities of Church Officers. This document provides further detail on the duties of key personnel, including the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

530. The NST has issued a series of mandatory core safeguarding training modules. The ‘C4’ training module relates to the handling of disclosures of abuse. This material was piloted with the archbishops in June 2016, and its delivery to each diocese began in September 2017.

Changes in the Diocese of Chichester

Relationship with victims and survivors

531. In their Visitation of the Chichester Diocese, the Commissaries called for a “radical change of culture”.[8] Since the publication of their reports, a number of initiatives have sought to contribute to the achievement of this aim. Importantly, the Diocese has chosen to confront its historic safeguarding failures. It has engaged openly with the media and with survivors’ groups, expressing a frank recognition of its culpability in child sexual abuse cases. Bishop Martin Warner met personally with several victims and wrote personal letters of apology.

532. The introduction of an Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Adviser (IDSVA) has led to a shift in the Diocese’s engagement with victims. Until Ms Gemma Wordsworth’s arrival in January 2013, clergy and staff did not routinely have direct contact with survivors of abuse. Most referrals for counselling were made through either the police or the NSPCC. Since 2013, the IDSVA has made referrals to specialist counselling agencies local to where the survivor lives.

533. Mr Colin Perkins described the recruitment of Ms Wordsworth as “the single best decision I have made during my tenure”.[9] Bishop Warner categorised her work as “the most important contribution to the Diocese’s attempts to assist survivors and other parties affected by abuse”.[10] These sentiments were echoed by Dame Moira Gibb in her review of the Peter Ball case, when she commented upon the “remarkable” level of support currently offered to victims in the Diocese. The Carlile review described Ms Wordsworth as “an outstanding professional” and praised her care of the complainant in the Bishop Bell case. Bishop Warner told us that “our offer to provide support and to meet survivors, their families or others affected by child sex abuse is an openended and continuing one”.[11]

534. There has also been an increased willingness of statutory bodies to engage with the Diocese and contribute to its work. The November 2016 SCIE safeguarding audit referred to “strong engagement from the Diocese’s safeguarding partners, with good attendance at the SAP by people at a senior level in the police, probation and adult and children’s social services”.[12]

535. Moreover, the appointment of a Diocesan Director of Education in 2014 has helped to build up good relationships of trust across the education sector. East Sussex County Council is of the view that “safeguarding practice in the Diocese has significantly improved since 2012”.[13] DS Hick of Sussex Police commented on the “excellent relationships” that now exist between the Diocese and statutory agencies.[14]

536. Bishop Warner said that “I and my colleagues in the Diocese do not consider this work complete. Our understanding of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse demands continued attention, as does the task of ensuring a culture that protects the vulnerable and confronts abuse effectively.”[15]

Current safeguarding procedures

537. The Diocese has invested increased financial resources in safeguarding. In 2010, its total spend on safeguarding was £59,000. In 2018, the safeguarding budget increased to £226,000. The Diocese retained its own safeguarding policy and procedure documents until November 2016. At this time, the Diocesan Synod voted to adopt the national Church of England safeguarding documents and incorporate them as Diocesan policy and practice guidance.

538. The current safeguarding arrangements allocate responsibility between dioceses and the national Church. The investigation of alleged sexual abuse by Church officers is now governed by Responding to, Assessing and Managing Safeguarding Concerns or Allegations Against Church Officers, 2017. This sets out in detail what should be done at a diocesan level when an allegation of current or past abuse is made, and when it should be referred to the NST for their involvement.

539. In accordance with the Key Roles Guidance 2017, the incumbent of each parish is now responsible for appointing a designated Parish Safeguarding Officer (PSO). The PSO should be a lay person who has undergone safeguarding training. It is their role to receive allegations or concerns about children in the parish and report them to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser within 24 hours.

540. If the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser considers that a referral to any statutory agency is necessary, he or she must also make that referral within 24 hours.[16] The Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser will then work with the parish and statutory agency to ensure that a risk assessment is conducted and a safeguarding agreement is formulated where required.

541. In May 2016, the Diocese launched an online tool called Simple Quality Projects. This comprises a checklist of key safeguarding practices required in each parish. It enables the safeguarding team to monitor progress remotely and is the primary tool for oversight of safeguarding quality in the Diocese. As Mr Perkins recognised, “in a diocese of 375 parishes and 500 churches, oversight cannot rely on the physical presence of a small safeguarding team in each parish”.[17] By January 2018, 72 percent of parishes had commenced Simple Quality Projects. This indicates a willingness amongst parish personnel to take safeguarding seriously.

Training

542. The Diocese now places a much greater emphasis on the training of clergy and laity. Records are maintained on a diocesan database to ensure that all clergy are receiving the necessary training. In 2014, a children’s social worker called Morag Keane joined the Diocese. She worked with Mr Perkins to improve safeguarding training in the Diocese. They formulated an advanced training module to be delivered to leaders at parish level. This covered topics such as parish culture, safer recruitment and the identification of grooming behaviours. The training was offered to each Deanery throughout 2014 and 2015.

543. From 2015 onwards, the Diocese adopted the ‘C1’ and ‘C2’ national training modules, which are delivered by a volunteer safeguarding training team. During 2017, just over 2,700 people were trained on either C1 or C2 throughout the Diocese.[18]

Permission to officiate

544. There are currently around 400 clergy in the Diocese with permission to officiate. The Bishop of Chichester is directly responsible for all clerical appointments. All requests for permission to officiate are referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, even when the applicant has previous convictions and should not be granted permission to officiate. This is to ensure firstly that the person is known to the safeguarding team, and secondly that a suitable agreement is in place to monitor his or her attendance at church.

545. Bishop Warner made it plain that the Diocese would be “extremely cautious” about granting permission to officiate to a person against whom allegations of abuse had been made.[19] In this situation, the advice of the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser would invariably be sought and a risk assessment commissioned if appropriate. A diocesan database logs the details of all individuals with permission to officiate or a licence.

546. Churchwardens are required to consult this database to ensure that retired clergy and others officiating have permission to officiate. Clergy are instructed that the signatures on church registers, required from every minister who takes a service, must be legible so that the relevant minister can be clearly identified. Archdeacons carry out checks of these registers during their Visitations.

547. Furthermore, the printed diocesan directory no longer contains details of clergy who have permission to officiate. This change ensures that all up‑to‑date information is accessed online, and removes the risk of reliance on potentially out‑of‑date information in a printed directory.

548. Anyone active in public ministry must have appropriate DBS checks. Since 2015, the Diocese has also asked for a note from an incumbent or the rural dean before permission to officiate (PTO) can be granted or renewed, to confirm that the person’s ministry would be welcomed and deployed in the local context. Bishop Warner described this as an “additional safeguard” that is intended to “ensure some degree of accountability in respect of where clergy with PTO are ministering and who is overseeing their deployment”.[20] Appropriate engagement with safeguarding training is also a requirement.

Record-keeping

549. All blue files are now held centrally and securely at the Bishop’s Palace in Chichester. The Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser has unlimited access to the files, and is the only person permitted to remove them from the system. Files can be consulted by senior diocesan clergy and staff during office hours, for the purpose of writing references or handling disciplinary matters.

Role of women in the Diocese

550. Since 2012, the role of ordained women in the Diocese has been greatly enhanced. Following the appointment of Richard Jackson as the Suffragan Bishop of Lewes in 2014, it has been possible to ordain men and women together. Fiona Windsor was made Archdeacon of Horsham in 2014, and from 2016 the Bishop of Horsham has also ordained women to the priesthood.[21] However, it remains the case that Chichester has fewer women in incumbency posts than almost any other diocese.

551. Bishop Warner said that “I and my colleagues in the Diocese do not consider this work complete. Our understanding of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse demands continued attention, as does the task of ensuring a culture that protects the vulnerable and confronts abuse effectively.”[22]

Current position on safeguarding in cathedrals

552. Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the lead bishop on safeguarding, explained that the Dean of Gloucester currently represents cathedrals in the NSSG. He is the lead dean on safeguarding and provides a link to the two main cathedral forums, namely the Association of English Cathedrals and the Deans’ Conference.[23]

553. In February 2015, the Deans’ Conference approved the development of a safeguarding checklist. This checklist was to be completed by each cathedral and returned to the Dean of Gloucester. According to Bishop Hancock, “the results received have been analysed and are informing the ongoing work with cathedrals”.[24]

554. These results did, however, highlight a number of concerns in relation to safeguarding. As Mr Tilby outlined, a significant number of cathedrals had failed to adopt guidance for responding to sexual or domestic abuse. Very few cathedrals had made any specific arrangements regarding support to survivors, relying instead on the diocese to provide this.[25]

555. Moreover, some cathedrals acknowledged that their own safeguarding advisers were not sufficiently qualified to provide professional advice. In Mr Tilby’s opinion, a number of cathedrals had failed to recognise potential deficiencies in the expertise of these advisers. In addition, many cathedrals had only a low level of safeguarding agreements in place with offenders who posed a known risk to the community.

556. In an effort to address these difficulties, “the Church has nominated leads for safeguarding and safeguarding awareness training at appropriate levels for those within the cathedral, so that they know what to look out for. Further, cathedral staff are encouraged to build links with Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers and other statutory services so that they know who to contact if a safeguarding situation does arise.”[26]

557. The Inquiry was keen to understand whether cathedrals have adopted specific guidance given their role in educating young people through the choral traditions. It is accepted that the majority of these young people will be in the care of the cathedral whilst undertaking their role as choristers, or live on or around the premises. We were concerned to learn from Bishop Hancock that, according to the Cathedral safeguarding checklist, a number of cathedrals have not yet developed specific policies to safeguard choristers.[27]

Safeguarding audits

558. In 2014, the House of Bishops received a paper entitled Developing a Quality Assurance Safeguarding Process for Dioceses and Parishes. One of the recommendations in this paper was that each diocese should be made subject to a safeguarding audit. In May 2015, this culminated in the appointment of the SCIE as an independent auditor. The diocesan safeguarding audits were piloted in the same year and implemented nationally from February 2016.[28]

559. It is our view that cathedrals should have been included in these audits from the outset. We do not agree that the audits should have focussed only on the work of the Diocese. It is difficult to reconcile this decision with the clear recommendations made by Mrs Edina Carmi over a decade earlier.

560. Indeed, it was not until spring 2017 that the Deans’ Conference and the House of Bishops agreed to extend the independent safeguarding audits to cathedrals. This methodology was extended to all cathedrals from late 2018.[29]

Cathedrals Working Group

561. In April 2017, the Church announced that the archbishops had established a Cathedrals Working Group. The creation of the group formed part of the Church’s response to the Gibb Review, which recommended:

The Church should review its organisational arrangements so that, for safeguarding purposes, all Church bodies come within the relevant diocesan arrangements where safeguarding capacity and expertise can be both concentrated and deployed most efficiently.[30]

562. According to Mr Tilby, the group’s purpose was to consider the sufficiency of the Cathedrals Measure in relation to the governance structure in cathedrals, including safeguarding.[31]

563. The report of the Cathedrals Working Group was presented to the Archbishops’ Council in December 2017. The report made a number of recommendations in respect of safeguarding. For example, it specified that all cathedrals should work jointly with their diocese and that all Chapter role descriptions should include a list of safeguarding responsibilities.[32]

564. The Working Group published its final report in June 2018.[33] A draft measure is to be considered at General Synod in July 2019, which will implement a large number of recommendations. This will include a model partnership arrangement with a diocese, along with ensuring that cathedrals are on the same footing as Parochial Church Councils and other Church bodies in respect of safeguarding requirements.

565. At the moment, there is no requirement for all cathedrals to have a formal arrangement with the diocese. The Key Roles and Responsibilities 2017 guidance requires that every cathedral should have access to a paid, professional and appropriately qualified safeguarding adviser.[34]

566. Bishop Hancock noted that in some cathedrals this is already in place, either through the employment of its own adviser or through the role being formally commissioned from the diocese. Data from the 2016 diocesan self‑assessments shows that, out of 42 cathedrals, there are 20 which have formal agreements with a diocese and a further 15 with joint working arrangements.[35] In 2004, the Carmi review recommended that specialist safeguarding advice and support should be provided to all cathedrals during the investigation of abuse claims. It was specifically recommended that all concerns and allegations should be reported to the Diocesan Child Protection Adviser.[36]

567. Despite the 2004 recommendations, the safeguarding responsibilities of the Dean and Chapter were not defined until October 2017 with the publication of the Key Roles and Responsibilities guidance. Section 5.1 of the guidance provides that a cathedral dean will “inform and work in cooperation with the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in the event of allegations, suspicions or disclosures of abuse and ensure that those who may present a risk to children, young people and vulnerable adults are effectively managed”.[37] The guidance also introduced the expectation of an annual safeguarding report to the diocesan bishop. However, the Cathedral’s constitution and statutes remain silent on the question of safeguarding at present.

Cathedral Visitation

568. Although the diocesan bishop is unable to exercise control over the cathedral on a daily basis, he is also the Visitor of the cathedral by virtue of section 6(3) of the Cathedrals Measure 1999. The bishop may hold a Visitation of the cathedral “when he considers it desirable or necessary to do so or when requested by the Council or the Chapter”.[38] Following the Visitation, he may give such direction to the Chapter, to the holder of any office in the cathedral or to any person employed by the cathedral “as will, in the opinion of the Bishop, better serve the due observance of the Constitution and Statutes”.[39]

569. Bishop Warner conducted a “one‑off” Visitation to Chichester Cathedral in November 2016. During the Visitation, he was responsible for “meeting with cathedral staff, exploring cathedral policies, its constitution and statutes, and making directions on the basis of areas where the bishop has concerns and where requirements can be made for a response that meets the bishop’s concerns”.[40]

570. In his report following the Visitation, Bishop Warner recorded that the Cathedral’s safeguarding policy is now updated annually.[41] One year after completion of the report, it was reviewed to consider the implementation of its recommendations. A further review took place in November 2018.[42]

571. However, Bishop Warner confirmed that the Chapter retains to this day a high level of autonomy. As the current Bishop of Chichester, his powers to supervise safeguarding within the Cathedral remain “limited, in terms of direct day‑to‑day powers”.[43] It is clear that, despite the events of the last two decades, cathedrals continue to operate autonomously in matters of safeguarding. In our view, the national Church should follow through its work to ensure that cathedrals are brought firmly into diocesan safeguarding structures. Chichester Cathedral and the Diocese of Chichester provide an example of good practice. This example should be followed by all dioceses, which should ensure both that safeguarding is effectively managed and that it is treated as a priority within cathedrals.

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