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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report

Contents

A.4: Methodology

22. This investigation was established to consider the adequacy of safeguarding policies and practices, such as governance, training, recruitment, leadership, reporting and investigation of child sexual abuse, disciplinary procedures and reparation.[1]

23. The process adopted by the Inquiry in this phase is set out in Annex 1 to this report. Core participant status was granted under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 to 29 complainants, victims and survivors, nine institutions and five other interested parties.

24. The Inquiry held a preliminary hearing on 15 January 2019, and then substantive public hearings over 10 days between 1 and 12 July 2019.

25. The Inquiry obtained a large volume of documentary evidence from both the Church of England and the Church in Wales. We heard evidence from a range of senior figures within the Church of England and the Church in Wales as well as from governmental and charitable bodies which have some involvement with the Churches. We also heard evidence from a number of complainants, victims and survivors who described the abuse they suffered and how their allegations were handled.

26. The Inquiry instructed an independent safeguarding expert, Mrs Edina Carmi, to undertake a sampling exercise of the day-to-day management of child safeguarding by the Church. A number of case files from both the Church of England and the Church in Wales were selected and reviewed, to determine whether the safeguarding policies were followed and whether those policies were an appropriate response.

27. The investigation’s third hearing focussed on evidence about a number of topics, as set out in the Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report,[2] which are addressed throughout this report. These include:

  • The cultural attitudes towards safeguarding, including whether or not the current structures of the Church of England and the Church in Wales and the way that safeguarding is managed inhibit their responses to child sexual abuse.
  • The procedures for reporting and responding to allegations of abuse, including allegations against clergy who are deceased, as well as whether or not there should continue to be absolute confidentiality if someone reports child sexual abuse whilst under the ‘seal of the confessional’.
  • Safeguarding training for clergy prior to their ordination and throughout their career, including the extent to which someone’s understanding of and ability to respond effectively to safeguarding concerns can or should be assessed as part of their fitness for office.
  • Procedures for the management of concerns about clergy, including clergy discipline and capability procedures, and specifically whether these procedures are suitable for responding to safeguarding concerns.
  • The current system for vetting and barring checks, including the difficulty in deciding what is a regulated activity.
  • The development and funding of safeguarding structures both within dioceses and within cathedrals and other Church bodies, including the effectiveness of oversight, auditing and external scrutiny that has been carried out.
  • Whether the Archbishops’ Council or National Safeguarding Team and provincial safeguarding advisers have sufficient powers to intervene within dioceses to keep children safe if appropriate standards are not met.
  • The extent to which the system for granting permission to officiate for retired clergy has been reformed and the Church’s ability to supervise retired clergy who hold permission to officiate.
  • Record-keeping and data collection within dioceses and the National Safeguarding Team and Provincial Safeguarding Team in Wales.
  • The management of civil claims against the Church of England and the Church in Wales, and the role of insurers.

28. The Inquiry’s Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report (published in May 2019) concluded that there were a number of serious failings in the Church of England’s response to allegations against both clergy and others linked to the Church, including the treatment of complainants, victims and survivors. Safeguarding structures and policies in place at a national and diocesan level were inadequate.[3]

29. As a result, five recommendations were made:

  • The Church of England should introduce appropriate guidance which deals with safeguarding within the context of a religious community affiliated to the Church.
  • The Church of England should amend Canon C30, requiring clerics to comply with the House of Bishop’s guidance on safeguarding. The use of the words ‘due regard’ lacks sufficient clarity.
  • The government should amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so as to include clergy within the definition of a position of trust.
  • Individuals engaged in regulated activity who have failed to undergo a DBS check or complete compulsory training should not be permitted to hold voluntary offices within the Church.
  • If religious organisations have undertaken internal reviews or enquiries into individual safeguarding incidents, their findings should be sent to the national review body (set up under the Children and Social Work Act 2017).

30. In February 2020, the General Synod of the Church of England unanimously passed a motion welcoming the Inquiry’s report and recommendations, committing to bringing forward proposals to ensure that the recommendations were implemented. The Synod will be updated on the development and implementation of responses to the Inquiry’s recommendations, including the following, not later than July 2021.[4]

30.1. The Church has introduced Amending Canon No. 40 in response to the first recommendation, which will be approved in early 2021. This will make religious communities part of the legal framework of the Church of England for the first time. A religious community will only be registered if it meets conditions set out in regulations, including those relating to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. The Safeguarding in Religious Communities Practice Guidance is also being updated.[5]

30.2. Section 5 of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 and the Church’s policy documents will be amended to make compliance with the House of Bishops’ guidance on safeguarding matters compulsory, rather than voluntary. Pending such changes, guidance has been issued to senior clergy and others involved in safeguarding in the Church (such as churchwardens) clarifying the meaning of ‘due regard’ and explaining the limited scope for non-compliance as well as potential sanctions in the event of non-compliance.[6]

30.3. The Church has indicated that it strongly supports the change in law recommended by the Inquiry in respect of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to include not just clergy but also lay officers engaged in regulated activity.[7] In March 2020, the Ministry of Justice confirmed it had undertaken a review of current criminal legislation regarding the definition of ‘position of trust’ in sexual offences.[8] To date, no decision has been taken about the recommended amendment of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Inquiry will consider further evidence about this during its investigation in relation to Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings.

30.4. The Church confirmed that discipline should be considered for leaders such as clergy who knowingly allow volunteers to remain in regulated roles without an appropriate DBS check and safeguarding training. Revised policy wording is being prepared to make the position clear.[9]

30.5. The Church will send its national learning lessons published reviews to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel facilitated by the Department for Education and will hold six-monthly meetings with the panel to enable areas of common interest to be explored. The Church will include provision for sharing reviews and learning in its revised Learning Lessons Case Review guidance, which is in draft form and is due to be circulated to dioceses and cathedrals for feedback in the second quarter of 2020.[10]

30.6. The Church intends that all current and future case reviews will be modelled on child safeguarding practice reviews and that they will be published when complete.[11]

References

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