The Church of England has issued the following Press Release announcing that Professor Alexis Jay is to develop proposals for a fully independent structure for safeguarding scrutiny.
Welcome for Professor Alexis Jay
Professor Alexis Jay to develop proposals for a fully independent structure for safeguarding scrutiny
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed the announcement today that Professor Alexis Jay, the former chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, has agreed to develop proposals for a fully independent structure to provide scrutiny of safeguarding in the Church of England. She will be supported by the former secretary to IICSA, John O’Brien.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, said: “We are very pleased that Professor Jay has agreed to take on this vital role to ensure we move quickly towards objective, independent, credible and resilient oversight of safeguarding in the Church of England. This work will be entirely in their hands and fully external and independent; we will welcome the scrutiny and challenge that rightly comes with that.
“As Archbishops we pledged to work as quickly as we can to get independent oversight of safeguarding back on track. We continue to reflect on recent events and this development is an important part of our safeguarding work with victims and survivors, children and vulnerable adults, as we make the Church a safer place for all.
“This proposal was discussed in depth at this week’s Archbishops’ Council and there was collective agreement about this being an important next step in the work on independent scrutiny.
“We have asked Professor Jay to give us independent and rigorous recommendations for achieving this urgent and vital outcome. ”
The Archbishops, along with the lead safeguarding bishop, have asked for a report on the Future Safeguarding Programme by the end of the year. This is most likely to take the form of an options appraisal but with a direct recommendation as to a preferred model for the new body. The authors – Alexis Jay and John O’Brien – will publish the report. The Archbishops’ Council, House of Bishops and General Synod will all be invited to consider the final report and debate the recommendations, with decision-making belonging to the appropriate bodies. They then propose to consult the same individuals about implementing the chosen model so that the establishment of the body is accomplished with the same degree of independence.
Terms of Reference:
- To provide options and recommendations for forming an independent safeguarding scrutiny body for the Church of England
- To make any recommendations for how further independence of safeguarding might be achieved
- To make any other recommendations that are necessary or appropriate.
They have been asked to consult widely with stakeholders both inside and outside the church.
Following the publication and the initial response to the Final Report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in October 2022, the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council published a Joint Response to recommendations in relation to the safeguarding work of the Church of England.
Links to L&RUK posts on IICSA and other safeguarding issues are here.
Update: According to media reports, Professor Jay issued her own statement, as follows:
“When I was Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I heard at first hand of the devasting effects of abuse within the Church of England, and of the failures, often repeated, to prevent it from occurring. I was very clear in my recommendations that safeguarding in the Church would require genuine independence in order to be fully effective. I have been just as clear with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Archbishop of York that this programme of work must be entirely independent of the Church too for it to succeed.
I would like to assure everyone that I mean what I say. My team will not include anyone employed by the church, nor will we hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. I have explained that if I detect any attempt to interfere with or to hinder my work, I will withdraw from this programme of work immediately.
I also wish to make clear that my work will be fair, impartial, objective and rigorous. One of my first tasks will be to hear the views of victims and survivors of church abuse, and to listen to those involved in safeguarding at all levels of the church across England. I look forward to hearing their experiences and using this process to inform the recommendations I will make to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
It is imperative that the Church of England makes rapid and demonstrable progress on introducing genuinely independent safeguarding. Victims and survivors of abuse, people who work or volunteer within the church, and children and adults who come into contact with the church in many different ways deserve nothing less.”