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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report

Contents

C.4: Recruitment and training of clergy in the Church in Wales

Prior to ordination

32. A candidate for ordination first approaches the local priest. He or she is then referred to the Diocesan Director of Vocations. If considered suitable for training (after a period of discernment, discussions and assessments), the application is sent to the Provincial Discernment Board.[1]

33. Ecclesiastical training for the Church in Wales is provided by a single institute, St Padarn’s. The training involves a significant amount of experiential learning, with candidates spending half of their week in a learning environment and the other half in a parish. Candidates receive safeguarding training throughout their theological education.[2]

34. Newly ordained and appointed clergy are monitored by the parish priest for six months, and formally reviewed at the end of that period. In the event of any earlier indications of concern, these will be looked into immediately, usually by an archdeacon.[3]

Recruitment

35. Each diocesan bishop is responsible for the appointment of clergy in their own diocese.[4] Before any individual can be appointed or recruited, they must have attended Church in Wales safeguarding training. They must also have an up-to-date criminal records check.[5]

36. The Church in Wales has engaged in checks on potential clergy appointments and volunteers since before 1996. Initially these were police record checks and checks against the ‘List 99’ maintained by the Department of Health.[6] They are now undertaken through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) system. They are required before the appointment of all ministers (lay and ordained, including clergy with permission to officiate) and any other people, whether volunteers or employed, who are authorised to undertake regulated activity with children on behalf of the Church in Wales.[7] Those requiring DBS checks are identified by the bishops’ offices, parishes and diocesan offices, then coordinated and monitored by the Representative Body’s DBS team. A DBS check must be renewed every five years.[8] Records are kept centrally for each individual checked.[9]

37. When a blemished disclosure is received:

  • the provincial staff contact lead clergy in the parish concerned for further information about the matters disclosed, and an assessment of risk relating to the role concerned is undertaken by the parish working with the provincial staff;
  • a provincial triage team (which includes the Provincial Secretary, the Head of Legal Services, the Head of Human Resources and the Head of Safeguarding) will provide further advice – in some cases, advice will be sought from the Provincial Safeguarding Panel; and
  • the advice of the triage meeting is presented to the appropriate person who appoints or employs or is responsible for the candidate (in the case of a volunteer).[10]

The applicant is not permitted to undertake any authorised activity unless and until the matter is resolved. The final decision is recorded in the Church’s provincial DBS database.

38. The Church in Wales has a list, known as the Archbishop’s Registrar’s list (held in the provincial office), which records individuals about whom there have been previous concerns. As at July 2019, there were 18 people on its list, of whom 10 have been convicted or accused of child sexual offences.[11] Bishops may consult the list by asking for information about a candidate but it is not circulated. Church in Wales policy recommends that bishops consult the list before appointing candidates but there is no guarantee that an appointing bishop would check the list or become aware of the individual’s history.[12] The Church in Wales has now created a monitoring system to ensure that the Archbishop’s Registrar’s list is referred to for every clergy appointment and constitutional changes are being brought forward to enable bishops to have access to the list online.[13] However, the Church in Wales does not have access to the Church of England’s caution list, including where a member of clergy moves from the Church of England to the Church in Wales.

Terms of service

39. The terms of service of Church in Wales clergy (implemented in 2010) include an express requirement to undertake any necessary training:

When a requirement is identified that a Cleric should obtain a particular proficiency, attend training or retraining in an area of Ministry, the Cleric must satisfy such requirement within a reasonable time as agreed with the Bishop. … Failure to comply with this requirement may be dealt with as a disciplinary matter.[14]

40. Safeguarding training is specified in professional ministerial guidelines introduced in 2007:

Every ordained person should have appropriate training in child protection. Provincial and diocesan guidelines and requirements must be known and observed.[15]

Records are maintained of who has completed training and when.[16]

41. A member of clergy found to be in breach of professional ministerial standards will be subject to the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure of the Church in Wales.

Serious acts or admissions may result in removal from office and could result in deposition from Holy Orders.[17]

42. The Church in Wales conducts ministry development reviews. These are conducted by area deans or archdeacons and lay people with HR or management skills. The reviews cover resilience training, well-being advice and self-review, which the Church in Wales considers “important aspects of the process of maintaining an appropriate level of scrutiny”.[18]

Permission to officiate

43. In June 2019, the Church in Wales introduced a formal policy on permission to officiate (PTO), through which a retired member of clergy is allowed to minister in a diocese, although this was amended in October 2019.[19] A member of clergy seeking PTO requires an enhanced DBS check and to have undergone compulsory ‘Safe Church’ training. They also require a ‘Clergy Current Status Letter’, which includes information about the clergy’s performance, whether there is anything in their past that would give rise to a concern and their previous bishop’s view on their suitability for continuing ministry.[20] As a result of this investigation, a new template was agreed by the Bench of Bishops in October 2019 to ensure that the letters prompt full disclosure of all relevant safeguarding matters.[21]

44. The Church in Wales’ policy states that PTO should be granted without any restriction, such as excluding ministry involving children and adults at risk. If a geographical limit is imposed – such as limiting ministry to a particular diocese – that must be notified in writing to all archdeacons and the relevant PSO so that it can be monitored.[22]

45. PTO is granted only for a five-year period and a fresh application must be made each time. A list of all of those holding PTO is held centrally by the provincial office.[23]

Safeguarding training

46. Following the Historic Cases Review (discussed below), the Church’s first safeguarding training strategy came into force in 2015. At the direction of the Bench of Bishops, safeguarding training became mandatory for any clergy or layperson in ministry or operating with PTO.[24] Initially it was delivered separately, but clergy and lay people now train together to build ministry teams.[25] Retraining is required every three years but some do not consider this to be sufficiently frequent.[26]

47. The responsibility for delivering all safeguarding training rests with St Padarn’s (the theological education institute), so that training is delivered by experts within a theological as well as safeguarding context.[27]

48. Safeguarding training is also fully embedded into the ecclesiastical training of ordinands.[28] The content will be authorised by the Provincial Safeguarding Team, composed of social work qualified staff.[29] The training framework is under development and the Church in Wales is working with the Church of England to ensure similar structures are in place.[30]

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