DIOCESE OF CHICHESTER SAFEGUARDING NEWSLETTER WINTER 2015/6
Welcome to the latest edition of the Diocesan Safeguarding Newsletter.
Many if not most of you will have been aware of the court cases involving clergy who had previously served in this Diocese, during the Autumn of last year. This has clearly been a very difficult time for many in the Diocese, and some will have despaired at reports of yet more abuse and, apparently, yet more failure in the past to deal properly with allegations of abuse.
As we reflect on these events, it is important to maintain an appropriate perspective: this has been a very hard time for the Diocese, but it has been much harder for the victims of abuse who have had the courage to speak up about what they have suffered, and to go to Court to ensure justice is done and that no further people are victimised. It is natural for us to be shocked about what has been revealed recently, and it [is] right that as a Christian organisation we should express concern and care for those who have been convicted of these crimes.
It is precisely because we are a Christian organisation, however, that the focus of our concern should remain with the victims who have demonstrated such courage to come forward. We know that many of you will have been praying for all involved in these cases throughout this time, and we encourage you to continue to do so as we enter the New Year. Secondly, bringing that which has been hidden into the light is never an easy process.
When there has been a history of abuse in an organisation, this is what dealing with that history looks and feels like. The Diocesan Safeguarding Team have been working closely with Sussex Police and other statutory partners throughout all of these lengthy investigations, with the full support of the Diocesan leadership throughout. The credit for bringing these cases to Court should primarily go to to the victims who have spoken out, and secondarily to the Police and CPS, but the Diocese has cooperated in every way possible, and in that sense it is important to emphasise that the recent prosecutions are evidence of the Diocesan commitment to good safeguarding practice, full cooperation with the the public authorities, and of our openness and transparency in these matters.
This recent period has also included an announcement about the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. Our Diocesan Secretary, Gabrielle Higgins, has written an article in this newsletter responding to a number of criticisms and questions people have had about this matter, which you will find on page 2. We also discuss the forthcoming Public Inquiry, and provide an update about a recent training event that the senior staff of the Diocese attended.
In the ‘Resources’ section of this newsletter, we provide some guidance on how churches can respond to the complex issue of domestic abuse, and list some excellent resources that will help with this.
Finally, given the importance of being aware of what is happening in the national church policy arena, we have reproduced the section of recent safeguarding policy developments, in the national church. The Diocese remains fully committed to excellence in safeguarding and is continually reviewing our procedures, expanding our training provision, and seeking new ways to improve our practice. We look forward to being able to give you further updates in the near future about new developments that will enable us to continue to meet these goals. The Safeguarding Team safeguarding
Comment on case of Bishop George Bell 2 News Updates 2 Meet the Team! 3 Resources: Domestic Abuse 4 Resources: CofE Policy Update 5 Bishop George Bell
In October 2015, the Church of England announced that the Bishop of Chichester had issued a formal apology following the settlement of a civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell.
Bishop Bell had a long and distinguished ministry as bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958. The process leading up to the settlement, the apology and the announcement was long, complex and carried out with all the sensitivity that a case of this nature demands. Given the nature of the allegations and the reputation of Bishop Bell, it is however understandable that questions have been raised since the announcement was made. These have come from members of the church nationally and locally, as well as from the media. We would like to take this opportunity to try to answer some of these concerns – as best we can. For legal reasons, it has often been impossible to respond to specific questions about the case and we understand this has been frustrating. It is possible however to clarify three broad areas to which the majority of concerns relate.
Presumption of Innocence
In criminal cases, innocence is presumed until guilt is proved and the burden of proof rests entirely on the prosecution. This means that no-one can be subjected to criminal penalties by the state unless their guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. The concept is probably familiar to most people, but not well understood. In popular culture the assumption is that this principle applies to all ‘legal cases’, but in fact it applies to criminal prosecutions only.
The case of Bishop George Bell was a civil and not a criminal case – regardless of the serious nature of the allegations. Bishop Bell has not been denied the ‘presumption of innocence’, because proceedings were never brought before a criminal court. This may seem like a technical point, but it is important that this fundamental legal principle is understood. Where allegations are made against a deceased person, as is the case with Bishop Bell, they must – of course – be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly, however uncomfortable this may prove, or however high profile the individual may be. The death of the person does not mean that allegations should not or cannot be investigated at all. It only means that a criminal prosecution cannot be pursued.
The Evidence was not disclosed
Many have asked to see the evidence on which the civil case was settled, and many have expressed concern that we have not been able – or seemed willing – to provide it. The desire for transparency does not sit easily with the requirement for confidentiality. Many vexed questions from local, national and international correspondents have been raised, which is understandable given the international standing of Bishop Bell as a theologian and church leader. But here we must also consider the courage displayed by any survivor in coming forward. The law rightly affords them protection to safeguard the confidentiality of their deeply personal information.
The Public Inquiry:
As many of you will be aware, the Government has initiated an Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse. In November last year, the Inquiry Chair, Judge Lowell Goddard, announced the first 12 investigations for the Inquiry, with the Church of England being one: “The Inquiry welcomed the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Inquiry to investigate, as a matter of priority, the sexual abuse of children within the Church.
Allegations of child sexual abuse within the Church of England, the Church in Wales, and other Anglican churches operating in England and Wales (‘the Anglican Church’) are matters of ongoing public concern”. The Diocese of Chichester will be a case study for the Inquiry. This is a development that we welcome, as it will enable us to continue our commitment to openness, transparency and external scrutiny of our practice. More importantly, the Inquiry will give further opportunity for the experience of victims of abuse to be heard, and for the lessons emerging from their experience to continue to inform practice, both in Chichester and in the wider Church.
Parishes have already received a letter from the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser giving instructions about retaining information, in preparation for the Inquiry. Senior-Staff Training Event: In December the senior staff team from Chichester joined a number of other local senior teams for a regional safeguarding training event, delivered by Jill Sandham, the former acting National Safeguarding Adviser. This training focused on the processes that need to be followed at senior staff level to ensure that good safeguarding practice is in place, and concentrated on the implementation of some of the new national policies that are listed on the last page of this newsletter, particularly Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations. The training also focused on identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in our safeguarding provision. We are planning further developments in safeguarding provision this year, which we hope to be able to tell you about soon, partially prompted by this training event. Many thanks go Jill Sandham, from the whole senior team, for delivering this training.
T i m e a n d a g a i n w e h e a r f r o m p e o p l e r e p o r t i n g abuse about how painful it is for them to disclose their experiences, as reporting often involves re-living. We sympathise with those struggling to come to terms with Bishop Bell’s situation. We also understand the desire to see the evidence. However, this cannot outweigh the individual’s right of privacy. Even if we wanted to reveal the information, we would be unable to do so: the survivor’s privacy is protected in law. It is legally impermissible for the Church to disclose any evidence used in the settlement, or any information that might lead to identification of the complainant. To be absolutely clear: no specific confidentiality agreement has been applied in Bishop Bell’s case; confidentiality laws apply in all cases of this nature.
Betrayal of Memory?
The third tranche of questions raised by this case is an extremely difficult one. It relates to the question of betraying the memory of someone praised as one of the greatest Churchmen of the 20th Century, a man who had devoted so much of his ministry to the cause of peace. There is no doubt that George Bell achieved many great things during his lifetime, for which he is rightly honoured and which should continue to be remembered.
But any suggestion that those who have done good deeds should be afforded an extra degree of protection from serious allegations cannot be upheld. This is fundamentally wrong. This position led many institutions, including the Church, to respond to allegations of sexual abuse so poorly in the past and we cannot – and will not – allow this to continue in the 21st century. All allegations of abuse must be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively and professionally; we must never demand a higher threshold of suspicion because the accused person is of high standing, or has an ‘impeccable’ reputation, however uncomfortable this may make us feel.
To conclude: this case has been extremely difficult for all concerned. Many complexities – legal and otherwise – have given rise to many questions. A number of the questions which have risen cannot be answered, and this article offers clarification as to why that is so, and also provides some guidance to those frequently-posed questions to which answers can be given.
Gabrielle Higgins Diocesan Secretary
The Safeguarding Team: Meet the team at Church House!
Colin Perkins, Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Morag Keane, Assistant Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
We undertake a variety of tasks that all add up to making church a safer place for vulnerable adults and children. These tasks include assisting the local authority with child and adult protection investigations and carrying out risk assessments with sex offenders then helping draw up agreements to enable them to attend church without risk to themselves or others. Many of you will have met Colin and Morag at training events around the diocese, training is another of their responsibilities as is designing policies and procedures to help you do your job in the parishes.
Email: Colin.Perkins@chichester.anglican.org or call 01273 421021 / 07500 771210
Email: Morag.Keane@chichester.anglican.org or call 01273 421021 07881 580310
Gemma Wordsworth, Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Adviser IDSVA, Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advisor. Gemma provides emotional and practical support to those who have experienced abuse, and can also provide advice and assistance to churches who are supporting people in this situation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 421021 extn 151 / 07468 698990.
Kim Nash, Safeguarding Administrator Kim is the Safeguarding Administrator. She is responsible for ensuring all clergy in the Diocese have valid DBS checks, and establishing a registration process for churches to join CCPAS in order to conduct DBS checks for parish personnel. Kim also organises safeguarding training across t h e D i o c e s e . E m a i l email@example.com or on 01273 425680.
Domestic Abuse: Here are some excellent resources for thinking about how churches can work in this area: Sussex Police have an entire page on domestic abuse, including campaign posters that can be printed out. The page can be viewed here: http://www.sussex.police.uk/helpcentre/ask-us/domestic-abuse
Worth Services is West Sussex’s domestic and sexual violence service. Gemma Wordsworth, seconded to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team, works for Worth Services. Their website can be found here: http://www.worthservices.org
Safe in Sussex provide domestic abuse awareness through the freedom and education. They have a substantial amount of locally-based information regarding domestic abuse, which can be found here: http://www.safeinsussex.org
Restored is a superb Christian website that contains excellent material to assist churches to learn about domestic abuse, and to intervene effectively. Again, this website includes downloadable posters that can be used to both raise awareness and as a source of assistance for victims of abuse, as described in the main article. http://www.restoredrelationships.org Rise, based in Brighton, work to raise awareness and provide intervention and support in Brighton and Hove. Their website is here: http://www.riseuk.org.uk
The Mankind Initiative is a national organisation that provides providing help and support for male victims of domestic abuse. Their website provides resources regarding this issue: http://new.mankind.org.uk The ‘Resources’ section of the Safeguarding Newsletter focuses on various issues related to safeguarding, and helps churches become aware of resources that are available to learn more about those issues, and to begin to think about what might be done to minister effectively in these areas. In this issue, we will be focusing on the issue of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a crime. The definition that is currently used in the UK describes domestic abuse as: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: • psychological • physical • sexual • financial • emotional” Domestic abuse is a widespread problem, although it is one of the most hidden forms of crime. The Home Office has calculated that one in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. Whist it is most often thought of an an issue that effects women, it is not specific: anyone can be effected regardless of their gender, age, religion, class or sexual orientation. Additionally, perpetrators of domestic abuse come from every part of society. There is no particular profile, and regardless of how well a potential perpetrator is perceived in their communities, a disclosure of abuse should always be taken seriously. It is nearly impossible to create a definitive list of signs that abuse is happening because perpetrators (and, for very different reasons, victims) are often skilled at hiding the signs of abuse. Domestic abuse is also not area-specific; people in geographically isolated areas who are living with domestic abuse can be significantly more at risk than those living in urban areas. It is not unusual for domestic abuse to be reported by neighbours; of course, this means that a victim of domestic abuse living in a rural setting with no close neighbours may be more at risk. The more we understand the issue, the better we will be placed to help address it. Churches have a ‘presence’ in local communities that can be used to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and also help those who are being victimised find help. It is important that churches become aware of this issue, but it is also important to be aware of local organisations and agencies who specialise in the area of abuse. One of the most useful things churches can do is to ‘signpost’ those suffering from abuse to specialist local sources of help: for example, Women’s Refuge, Rise, Worth Services and ManKind. You will see links to these organisations on this page. One simple way to help is to make sure that your church has domestic abuse posters and leaflets to hand. Ideally, these should be located in a place that an individual can make note of a helpline number safely and in private, for example the women’s lavatories. Many doctors’ surgeries and hospital departments also use women’s lavatories to provide information about domestic abuse, for the same reason. Additionally, Sussex Police has an online resource with campaign posters than can be freely downloaded; again, you can see the link to this resource on this page. Given that many churches hire out church halls for use by community groups, it may be that a victim who does not attend church, but is part of a group that uses the building, is able to access help because they see a poster that the church has put up, or take a leaflet that is available. This would very much be a ministry that accords with the ‘Common Good’ strand of the Diocesan strategy for mission. A further Christian-focused resource which is very useful is ‘Restored’. The Restored website – with a link on this page – contains some really excellent information, advice, posters and other downloadable material and we strongly recommend that you spend some time looking at this material. In particular, we recommend that you refer to ‘Restored, Ending Violence Against Women – A Pack for Churches’ for further information as how best you can help.
Morag Keane, from our Safeguarding Team, is currently a member of The Domestic Abuse Working Group with The National Church of England. The aim of the group is to update the current guidance with a view to a new policy document being presented to the House of Bishops In May 2016. National Context: Policy and Practice Guidance As you may be aware, there have been a many developments in the Church of England nationally regarding safeguarding over the past few years. One of the main areas of development recently has been the production of new practice guidance to go alongside the national policy documents that we have had for a number of years. As you will also see, the four national policy documents that we have been working with for a while now – Protection All God’s Children, Promoting a Safe Church, Responding Well To Those Who Have Been Sexually Abused, and Responding to Domestic Abuse – are also due to be revised. There are also two pieces of joint practice guidance produced from our ongoing partnership with the Methodist Church. There has obviously been a lot of work going on, much of which has been prompted by learning arising from casework across the country. We have provided a link to all the documents above, so that you can be aware of what has been happening at a national level.
For the moment, we are continuing to refer to our Diocesan policy documents, which are still available on the Diocesan safeguarding website, although the national Safer Recruitment (2015) document has been our point of reference for some time now for that specific topic. As you can see, the four national policy documents are due to be revised, and once that happens we will propose that the Diocese of Chichester incorporates these documents as our Diocesan policy documents. The safeguarding team is currently in the process of reviewing the various safeguarding ‘templates’ – for risk assessments, parental consent forms, etc – and we will make these much more accessible in a renewed safeguarding website later this year. We hope that you find it useful to be able to see all of the work that has been done nationally. If you are reading this newsletter online, you can click on each individual policy document, or on the link at the bottom of the box which will take you to the CofE website page where they are listed. List of Policy and Practice Guidance Policy Statements: • Promoting a Safe Church (safeguarding policy for adults) 2006 – to be revised and combined with ‘Protecting All God’s Children’ as a single safeguarding policy. • Protecting All God’s Children (safeguarding policy for children and young people, 4th edition, 2010) – to be revised and combined with ‘Promoting a Safe Church’ as a single safeguarding policy. • Responding to Domestic Abuse (guidelines for those with pastoral responsibility, 2006) – to be revised as Practice Guidance • Responding Well (policy and guidance for the church of England, 2011) – to be revised as Practice Guidance. Practice Guidance- • Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations (2015) • • Risk Assessment for Individuals who may Pose Risk to Children or Adults (2015) • • Safer Recruitment (2015) • • Safeguarding in Religious Communities (2015) Joint Practice Guidance with The Methodist Church- • Safeguarding Records: Joint Practice Guidance for the Church of England and the Methodist Church (2015) • Safeguarding Guidance for Single Congregation Local Ecumenical Partnerships (2015)
All of the above policy and practice guidance can be found on the Church of England website at