IICSA Report into the Anglican Church

On Thursday 9 May 2019, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, published its 252-page report into the Church of England,  based on its case studies last year of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball. The Church’s Press Release is reproduced below, to which we have appended the five recommendations of IICSA. The IICSA will make further recommendations directly related to the findings of this report following the hearing in July 2019, which will focus upon the wider Anglican Church.

We will post a summary of the report in due course.


Publication of IICSA report into Anglican Church

09/05/19

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, has today published its report into the Anglican Church based on its case studies last year of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball.

The 252-page report makes five recommendations about a range of issues. These will now be studied in detail and a full response released at a later date. The Inquiry’s third and final hearing in the  Anglican Church case study  will start on Monday 1 July 2019 and run for two weeks. This will focus on both the Church of England and the Church in Wales in the context of their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Inquiry notes that further recommendations directly relating to the findings in this report will be made following the hearing in July.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said:

“We thank the Inquiry for the report and note the findings and recommendations which we will now study in full. The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the Inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this.  It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.

“Whilst the report acknowledges the progress the Church has made in safeguarding, we recognise that our work must continue at pace in order that we can ensure that the Church is as safe as possible for all. We are committed to working to bring in specific changes that will help us better protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and all other forms of abuse. If anyone is affected by today’s report, I would urge them to come forward. Details of how to do this can be found on the Church of England website.

“We are immensely grateful to survivors for their courage in coming forward to IICSA to share their experiences of how they were treated by the Church, knowing how difficult this would have been; their testimonies have made shocking and uncomfortable listening. Since the Archbishop of Canterbury asked for the Church of England to be investigated by IICSA as a matter of priority, we have sought to help the Inquiry in every way that we can and we will now fully consider the report.”

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Recommendations [pages 205/206 of the Report]

Recommendations arising from the case studies of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball

The following recommendations arise directly from the case studies of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball.

Recommendation 1: Introduction of safeguarding guidance for religious communities

The Church of England should introduce appropriate guidance which deals with safeguarding within the context of a religious community affiliated to the Church. It must ensure that these organisations meet adequate requirements for safeguarding and child protection. The needs of victims should be prioritised when designing safeguarding policies and practices.

The regulation and management of religious communities should include a mandatory requirement both to have and to follow safeguarding guidance. The requirement to comply with this safeguarding guidance should be the same as would be expected in any other Church institution. There needs to be clarity in respect of how safeguarding should be managed in these communities, along with appropriate auditing of compliance.

Recommendation 2: Amendment of Canon C30

The Church of England should amend the current canon requiring clerics to comply with the Bishop’s Guidance on Safeguarding. The use of the words ‘due regard’ in Canon C30 is an acceptable term of art,1316 but lacks sufficient clarity. Very few individuals who gave evidence to the Inquiry said they understood what this meant, including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

Recommendation 3: Amendment of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

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. This would criminalise under s16–s20 sexual activity between clergy and a person aged 16–18, over whom they exercise pastoral authority, involving the abuse of a position of trust.

Recommendation 4: Sanctions for failures to comply with safeguarding procedures

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. Failure by ordained clergy to comply with either requirement should result in disciplinary proceedings.

Recommendation 5: Disclosure of internal reviews to the national review body

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).

The IICSA will make further recommendations directly related to the findings of this report following the hearing in July 2019, which will focus upon the wider Anglican Church

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "IICSA Report into the Anglican Church" in Law & Religion UK, 9 May 2019, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2019/05/09/iicsa-report-into-anglican-church/

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