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Recommendations - The Anglican Church investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Anglican Church investigation report.

Introducing diocesan safeguarding officers in the Church of England

Recommendation

England should create the role of a diocesan safeguarding officer to replace the diocesan safeguarding adviser. Diocesan safeguarding officers 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 plans for church officers and members of the congregation; and

v) supporting complainants in safeguarding-related issues. 

Diocesan safeguarding officers should be employed locally, by the Diocese Board of Finance. The diocesan safeguarding officer’s work should be professionally supervised and quality assured by the National Safeguarding Team. The National Safeguarding Team should set the broad requirements for anyone applying to be a diocesan safeguarding officer (adapting as required the existing requirements in respect of diocesan safeguarding advisers).

It should be enshrined in policy that those who are volunteers and who do not follow the directions of diocesan safeguarding officers should be removed from responsibility of working with children.

Responses

On 25 November, the Church of England stated that it fully accepts and supports this recommendation. The Church of England noted that further work will be needed on the details of how to implement this. In the meantime, the Church will look to put an interim arrangement in place, whereby a small number of independent professionals are recruited, who could provide independent oversight of safeguarding work, and in due course, could form the new independent trustee body. 

The Church of England also intends to amend Canon 30 and the associated Diocesan Safeguarding Advisors Regulations to accommodate this recommendation. The Church of England has also asked the National Safeguarding Team produce a project plan to deliver independent safeguarding based on the recommendation. 

On 15 December 2020, the Church of England voted unanimously that a proposal on an interim oversight model of that National Safeguarding Team will be put in place before the February Synod in 2021. The model will include the creation of a new safeguarding board with a majority of entirely independent members. The Church of England has stated that the board could then help determine the approach to implementing full independent oversight, as outlined in the Inquiry’s recommendations. The detailed arrangements for this will be worked out fully through a consultation with survivor groups and dioceses.

Responding to safeguarding complaints in the Church of England

Recommendation

The Church of England should make changes and improvements to the way in which it responds to safeguarding complaints (whether related to allegations of abuse, or a failure to comply with or respond to the Church’s safeguarding policies and procedures) to:

  • disapply the 12-month time-limit for all complaints with a safeguarding element brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure; 
  • reintroduce the power to depose from holy orders where a member of the clergy is found guilty of child sexual abuse offences; 
  • introduce a mandatory ‘code of practice’ to improve the way that safeguarding issues are handled across the Clergy Discipline Measure and capability procedures, including a framework for responding to issues that do not amount to misconduct; 
  • make clear that penalty by consent must never be used in relation to such complaints;
  • ensure confidentiality agreements are not put in place in relation to such complaints; and 
  • ensure that those handling such complaints are adequately and regularly trained.

Responses

On 25 November 2020, the Church of England stated it endorses the proposals to replace the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 with a new set of provisions. These will place emphasis on the standard of conduct which is required of clergy and which will also make provision for the handling of poor practice or capability. The Church of England also notes that this new approach will make specific provision for matters which have a safeguarding element. 

On 4 December 2020, the Church of England’s Working Group published a progress report on its review of the working of the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) 2003. The Group’s work identifies significant areas for change to the Measure as it stands and proposes that new legislation is needed to replace the Measure. In the interim, a number of measures have been developed, including regular training for key participants in the CDM process. The Working Group also notes that the possible reintroduction of the penalty of Deposition from Holy Orders will most likely be considered as part of the longer-term work dealing with replacing the CDM.

Following operational safeguarding advice in the Church in Wales

Recommendation

The Church of Wales should make clear that the operational advice of provincial safeguarding officers must be followed by all members of the clergy and other Church officers.

It should be enshrined in policy that those who are volunteers and who do not follow the directions of provincial safeguarding officers should be removed from working with children.

Responses

No progress update as of 25 February 2021

Record-keeping in the Church in Wales

Recommendation

The Church in Wales should introduce record-keeping policies relating to safeguarding, complaints and whistleblowing. These should be implemented consistently across dioceses. The Church should develop policies and training on the information that must be recorded in files. 

The Church should provide its provincial safeguarding officers with the right to see personnel files of clergy, office holders, employees or others if concerns and complaints are raised about child protection or safeguarding.

Responses

No progress update as of 25 February 2021

Information-sharing between the Church of England and the Church in Wales

Recommendation

The Church of England and the Church in Wales should agree and implement a formal information-sharing protocol. This should include the sharing of information about clergy who move between the two Churches.

Responses

On 25 November 2020, the Church of England stated that the two churches will seek to strengthen information-sharing arrangements by putting in place an information-sharing protocol and sharing agreement as swiftly as is practicable. The Church of England has also requested that template information sharing agreements are developed which may be adapted and used by dioceses on a local level with statutory partners, such as local authorities. 

Information-sharing between the Church of England, Church in Wales and statutory partners

Recommendation

The Church of England, the Church in Wales and statutory partners should ensure that information-sharing protocols are in place at a local level between dioceses and statutory partners

Responses

On 25 November 2020, the Church of England stated that the two churches will seek to strengthen information-sharing arrangements by putting in place an information-sharing protocol and sharing agreement as swiftly as is practicable. The Church of England has also requested that template information-sharing agreements are developed which may be adapted and used by dioceses on a local level with statutory partners, such as local authorities.

Support for victims and survivors

Recommendation

The Church of England and the Church in Wales should each introduce a Church-wide policy on the funding and provision of support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse concerning clergy, Church officers or those with some connection to the Church. The policy should clearly set out the circumstances in which different types of support, including counselling, should be offered. It should make clear that support should always be offered as quickly as possible, taking into account the needs of the victim over time. 

The policy should take account of the views of victims and survivors. It should be mandatory for the policy to be implemented across all dioceses.

Responses

On 25 November 2020, the Church of England stated that it will continue with the development of a redress scheme and with the interim pilot scheme. The Church of England is also engaging with a number of survivors in urgent need and some emergency payments have already been made. 

External auditing of safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church in Wales and Church of England

Recommendation

The Church in Wales should introduce independent external auditing of its safeguarding policies and procedures, as well as the effectiveness of safeguarding practice in dioceses, cathedrals and other Church organisations. Audits should be conducted regularly and reports should be published. 

The Church of England should continue independent external auditing of its safeguarding policies and procedures, as well as the effectiveness of safeguarding practice in dioceses, cathedrals and other Church organisations. Audits should continue to be conducted regularly and reports should continue to be published.

Responses

On 25 November 2020, the Church of England noted that the National Safeguarding Steering Group, House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council remain committed to the programme of five yearly independent audits, which began in dioceses in 2015. The next phase of independent scrutiny of diocesan safeguarding work is due to start in 2021. The Church of England also stated that a project plan will be produced to implement this recommendation. 

Recommendations process

You can find out about our process for monitoring responses by visiting our web page.

Anglican Church investigation report

View the Inquiry's Anglican Church investigation report in its entirety.

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