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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

B.4: Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group

Establishment of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group

252. The House of Bishops’ 2004 policy Protecting All God’s Children recommended that each diocese should form a child protection management group, chaired by an independent lay person. In addition to meeting formally at least once a year to review diocesan policy, it would advise the bishop on safeguarding cases and report annually to the Bishop’s Council or Diocesan Synod.[1]

253. Shortly after this policy was issued, the Diocese of Chichester set up the Child Abuse Advisory Group (CAAG). Archdeacon Philip Jones described it as an “ad hoc body that met only when the need arose”. It had no oversight function or involvement in policy implementation, and simply “dealt with safeguarding on a case by case basis”.[2] Following Mr Tony Sellwood’s death in early 2007, Mrs Shirley Hosgood was appointed Diocesan Child Protection Adviser. She was concerned the group was “very informal ... it didn’t have any clear terms of reference”.[3]

254. In November 2007, a meeting was held at which it was decided that the CAAG should be disbanded. It was to be replaced by a new diocesan safeguarding group with fresh terms of reference, so as to ensure its structure and management was consistent with Protecting All God’s Children. The new group would be formally organised and take “collective responsibility for the implementation of child protection strategies”.[4]

Terms of Reference

255. A working group was tasked with drafting new terms of reference. Its members were Archdeacon Jones, Archdeacon Roger Coombes, Mrs Hosgood, two former members of the CAAG, and the diocesan secretary. However, the terms were not agreed until February 2010, more than two years after the CAAG had been discontinued.[5] This was because the working group was unable to agree on appropriate and effective terms. 

256. A period of time time taken to debate matters can, on occasion, be helpful for reflective and thoughtful decision‐making. In this situation, however, it should not have taken so long for the terms of reference to be agreed. Bishop John Hind should have sought to resolve the disputes.

257. According to Mrs Hosgood, “the professionals and representatives from the Church both wanted a very different safeguarding group”.[6] In her view, the group required an independent chair with specialist safeguarding experience. Both archdeacons objected, as this would “weigh things heavily on the side of the statutory agencies in terms of their influence over the group”.[7] Senior diocesan personnel had featured heavily in the CAAG’s processes and decision‐making.

258. In Archdeacon Jones’ view, the new group should have retained clergy involvement as it “needed some input as to the state of the diocese, its structure, its work, its life”.[8] We recognise that the Church has particularities which require input from those with knowledge about its workings and structure. However, the primary purpose of any such group is to provide expertise in safeguarding.

259. In any event, the failure to agree terms of reference in a timely manner meant that, for a significant period, the Diocese was without an effective and transparent safeguarding structure.

Function of the group

260. The formation of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group (DSAG) was completed in May 2010 and it met for the first time in July 2010. Mr Keith Akerman, a former Detective Chief Inspector of Hampshire Constabulary, was appointed as independent chair. Along with Mrs Hosgood and three archdeacons, the DSAG’s members included representatives of Local Authority Children’s Services, the Probation Service, Sussex Police, as well as a legal adviser and abuse survivors.[9] DS Hick represented Sussex Police in the group. His role was to provide a link to police investigations involving the Diocese. He also provided information, guidance and advice in connection with safeguarding concerns.[10]

261. Membership of the DSAG included three clergy members. Mr Akerman “did not consider that this presented a significant problem” because “the role of Archdeacon was the one post within the Church which had appropriate power and authority to get things done”.[11]

262. The DSAG’s aim was essentially to assist the Diocese. It was tasked with ensuring that “the Diocese understood what safeguarding meant, and that as a culture it was embedded in their everyday business, and that everyone in the Diocese, in whatever role – employed or voluntary, was committed to it”.[12]

263. Mrs Hosgood explained that the group’s objectives included monitoring the implementation of both national and diocesan safeguarding policies. The DSAG supported her work as Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, including the provision of training and professional consultation. It also dealt with the support needs of individuals affected by abuse.[13] Whilst the DSAG was to meet at least four times a year, a designated risk assessment sub‐group was also formed to consider specific safeguarding concerns presented by Mrs Hosgood. According to Mr Akerman, the role of the DSAG was “both strategic and operational”. For example, it advised the bishop on issues relating to priests with blemished disclosure records, and also formulated a policy regarding the granting and removal of permission to officiate.[14]

264. Even after the formation of the DSAG, tensions continued to exist between its clergy and professional representatives. DS Hick recalled a meeting with Archdeacons Jones and Coombes in or around 2010–2011. In this meeting, they suggested all safeguarding concerns should be passed to them for consideration before any referral was made to the statutory agencies. DS Hick “had to be very clear with them that this was an unacceptable position to adopt, clearly raising the prospect that matters could be suppressed”.[15]

265. In Mrs Hosgood’s view, senior clergy members did not trust external experts to make the correct decisions about safeguarding matters.[16] DS Hick agreed “there was resentment towards police involvement in their business, and a perception that the Church was losing control of its information”.[17] It must be remembered that Mrs Hosgood left the Diocese in December 2010.

266. DS Hick did note that as time progressed, there was a “sea­-change in the levels of cooperation from the Church”. He observed a “genuine acceptance” by the clergy members that “action was needed” to confront a “culture of abuse” in parts of the Diocese.[18]

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