GS 2244 Safeguarding Summary

January 22, 2022
GS 2244 Safeguarding Summary

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This paper gives an update from the Independent Safeguarding Board and the National Safeguarding Team.

This paper provides information about National Safeguarding Background, Safeguarding Governance, National Safeguarding Team Projects and workstreams and National Case Management System, Information Sharing Project, Survivor Engagement, IICSA Recommendations and Redress Scheme.

The IICSA report into the Anglican Church set out six recommendations for safeguarding, including the establishment of independent safeguarding advisors, the revision of clergy discipline, and information sharing with statutory partners and the support for victims and survivors of abuse.

The National Safeguarding Steering Group was established in 2016 and it has the function of having strategic oversight of national safeguarding activity. It is chaired by the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, and staffed by the National Safeguarding Team.

The NST was established in 2006 and has grown to forty members of staff, including full time, part time and consultants.

Safe Spaces is an ecumenical project between the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales, which provides confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused by someone in the Church.

SSEW received a 1-year report on the Safe Spaces service from Rocket Science Labs, which showed that the service is being generally well received and is proving beneficial to those who use it.

The report contained helpful recommendations, which will be published and made publicly available, including the service specification and funding arrangements at the end of the pilot.

The House of Bishops approved the Guidance on 13 December 2021. The Guidance provides a comprehensive explanation of spiritual abuse.

Work is underway to develop new guidance for handling allegations of abuse and failings by Church officers (and non-Church officers). The guidance will be consulted on during 2022.

Leadership and Senior Leadership, Link Person Pathway, Safer Recruitment and People Management and Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse have been accredited by The CPD Certification Service.

The House of Bishops approved the plan to go live on July 4, 2022. This plan includes training on spiritual abuse and healthy cultures.

The training aims to increase awareness and understanding of spiritual abuse, to help prevent it, and to help build healthy cultures.

Work is now focused on bringing the remaining safeguarding pathways to the point of release, including the Support Person Pathway, the Diocesan Directors of Ordinands Pathway, the Professional Development and Advanced Safeguarding Programme, and the Virtual Library.

The Church of England will be developing a National Safeguarding Casework Management System, to be delivered by The Safeguarding Company.

The project is taking forward IICSA recommendations 5 and 6 on information sharing.

In spring 2021, a project team has worked on a suite of documents, including an Information Sharing Framework and two separate information agreements.

8.3 Work on the draft documents has concluded and a final consultation ended on 3 November. The final document will be shared with dioceses in early 2022, accompanied by a training package.

The Church is committed to engaging with victims and survivors to improve safeguarding in the Church, and to developing a survivor engagement strategy and framework for the Church.

The Church has selected twenty-one dioceses and cathedrals as Pathfinders, which will take part in the IICSA Recommendations 1 & 8 and Regional Model Pilot. All three Safeguarding Leads will be employed and supervised by the NST, and they will provide professional supervision and quality assurance.

The National Redress Scheme is in development stage and has a working group to ensure the voices of victims and survivors are heard and given appropriate weight throughout its development.

The Interim Support Scheme (ISS) has undergone a period of development and process improvements, and the panel is currently meeting to implement improvements.

The original Past Case Review (PCR) conducted in 2007/2009 revealed serious shortcomings in its discharge. It recommended that all dioceses and the provinces ensure all relevant files are reviewed, and cases of concern which emerge are dealt with as if they were new referrals.

The Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) was commissioned by the National Safeguarding Steering Group to identify information held within parishes, cathedrals, dioceses, or other church bodies which may contain allegations of abuse or neglect.

To ensure that recorded incidents of abuse of an adult (including domestic abuse) have been handled appropriately, and that known survivors have had their support needs addressed.

The majority of diocesan reports have been submitted to the Project Management Board; there is a process in place to facilitate late submissions.

The ISB has three members: the Chair Professor Maggie Atkinson, Survivor Advocate Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, and an Independent Member, soon to be announced. All three have other commitments in the wider safeguarding world, and bring experience and expertise from their wider work.

The ISB works with the NST, the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding and the Archbishops to ensure that the C of E is working to prevent child sexual exploitation. The ISB has an Administrator with project delivery experience and Deborah McGovern gives part of her FTE role to the ISB.

The ISB has no powers to re-investigate, sanction, direct, regulate, inspect or insist. Instead, the ISB advises the NST on how to ensure an independent presence in advising and overseeing safeguarding will continue in the long term.

The ISB highlights where C of E institutions and members act in a proactive and responsible way on behalf of others.

The ISB now feeds back its collective reflections to Synod, and through it to the Church of England, as follows: a. It will look for ways to improve the way safeguarding is undertaken at national, diocesan, cathedral, community, parish, school and other levels.

We urge the Church to ensure it responds swiftly to safeguarding shortcomings and to develop proactive, preventive safeguarding.

We need to look beyond the C of E to learn from local safeguarding practice, but we need to focus on the following: "Over-complex, hard-to-navigate structures, bodies and boards at national, diocesan and other levels, with the potential of upset for the accused mattering more than, rather than as much as, the person making disclosures."