Tag Archives: National Safeguarding Steering Group [NSSG]

July 7 2019 – “Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding” – Church Times

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (centre) with Meg Munn and Phil Johnson

 

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/12-july/news/uk/bishop-hancock-challenges-the-synod-on-safeguarding

VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding is “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.

In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.

“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .

“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”

A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.

Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”

He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.

Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”

The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by a survivor of abuse: “Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”

Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions, which were heard on Friday, to allow proper space for them. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach; a presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.

In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.

He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.

Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.

In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.

He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm” (News, 9 May

A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.

He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the late former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 201716 June 201724 May).

A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Disicpline Measure (CDM) was fit for its purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May).

Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.

“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said. “I see a lot of people with good intentions, but you all need to do more, and do more, more quickly.”

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES Phil Johnson

Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.

The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements; many of these were agreed out of fear that the survivor might be landed with the Church’s “astronomical” legal costs.

He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.

In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.

Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority. This was evident in the conviction of Barry Bennell, a former coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and the conviction of Bob Higgins, the former Southampton coach, both for child sexual abuse.

The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.

He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.

There was criticism that there was not a full Synod debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called the Synod “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).

Matthew Ineson, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.

“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”

At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those who were part of IICSA, and for survivors.

May 3 2019 – “More fallout from the Panorama programme” [‘Scandal in the Church of England’] – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ – Simon Sarmiento

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

More fallout from the Panorama programme

More fallout from the Panorama programme

An open letter has been published by Justin Humphreys, chief executive of the charity now known as thirtyone:eight (formerly Churches Child Protection Advisory Service):
An open letter to the leadership of the Church of England following BBC’s Panorama.

…It has been clear for some time that the past cases review conducted between 2007 and 2010 was flawed in a number of respects. For there to be any confusion or uncertainty about what happened to those cases that were identified, often referred to as the ‘Known Cases Lists’ is also inexcusable. The Panorama program did well to uncover what were clearly points of discomfort for the church hierarchy. For key representatives of the Church to either not be able to respond clearly to questions about the number of cases or be unprepared to do so, calls the management of these cases into serious question and makes one wonder who exactly is in control? The need for transparency and true accountability has never been as needed as it is today.

What is needed within the Church of England (and frankly elsewhere across the wider Church and beyond) is authentic leadership. Leadership that is prepared to lead by example in a proactive exercise of self-reflection that leads to open and honest dialogue (particularly with survivors). Leadership that is not governed, coerced or muzzled by either insurers, lawyers or any other stakeholder that may stand to lose from just exposure and open remorse and repentance. This would be the right thing to do!

We may ask, what (or who) is being served by this ongoing catalogue of failures, missed opportunities and resistance to effective change concerning past, present and future safeguarding matters? It certainly cannot be said that survivors are being well-served. It is also of great concern that the Church itself is being further damaged by a continual denial of the truth and avoidance of any tangible reparation.

If the public at large is ever again to say of the Church that it is a safe place, a haven or even a sanctuary for those who are suffering, the Church must be prepared to be laid bare and be held accountable for those things it has failed to do well. This humility would be the greatest strength of the Church in seeking to deal with this sad catalogue of shame. The time has come for those that stand in the way of what Jesus would so clearly have done to be challenged, held accountable and where needed placed elsewhere – where they have less opportunity to exert their negative influence and to stand in the way of the restoration that is desperately needed…

Do read the whole letter.

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has written a second blog, this one is titled: Panorama on C/E. Further reflections. Again it’s worth reading in full, but the concluding paragraph says:

…Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities.  The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things.   Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews.    The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived.  The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could not disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves.  The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution.  The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church.  The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain.  They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them.  In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.

The Church Times has published a letter from Andrew Graystone which can be found here (scroll down)

Panorama programme won’t be the last scandal

Sir, — Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows. Is it the job of the Archbishops’ Council? or the General Synod? or the National Safeguarding Steering Group? or Lambeth Palace? or the House of Bishops? Or is it, perhaps, a matter for each individual diocese?

Everybody points to someone else. Nobody steps forward. After a decade or more of crisis, which continues to eat away at the Church’s standing in society, there has been a complete failure from those in authority to grasp the issue. One reason that some survivors of church abuse are so painfully vocal is that they are filling a vacuum of leadership on this most crucial of issues for the Church.

Monday’s Panorama, with its focus on the shameful mismanagement of abuse in Lincoln diocese, was entitled Scandal in the Church of England. It could have been made at any point in the past decade, and it could have focused on almost any diocese. Stories will continue to emerge, and the scandal of abuse past and present will continue to undermine the Church’s wider mission, until some individual or body takes responsibility and institutes decisive action.

In the mean time, it is victims of abuse, past and present, who bear the cruelty and pain of the Church’s failure.

COMMENTS

Andrew Graystone says in the Church Times: “Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows…”

If that is the case, intervention is required by The Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen – just as the Pope was required to intervene in the Catholic Church.

April 18 2019 – “Church of England response to safeguarding recommendation” – Church Times – Letters – Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills

web_gargy_img20190405_20394419

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/18-april/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor

 

C of E response to safeguarding recommendation

Church Times – Letters

From the Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills

Sir, — When responding to atrocity cases, for which it was set up, the International Criminal Court — like other courts, for that matter — focuses primarily on the perpetrator, seeking to call out, name, and punish criminal acts, that they never happen again. Of course, they still do. The survivor’s testimony is a means to that end, treated as tools of witness — and no more.

But when it comes to building resilience in a community, in the aftermath of atrocity, the criminal court is only the first step in any work of reconciliation. For a community to thrive, it needs to listen to the stories and the needs of survivors of any abuse, crime, or atrocity. It is not just about retribution, but about flourishing: flourishing for the survivors and for the whole community as witness.

What the Church’s National Safeguarding Steering Group has done in rejecting the recommendations of the independent reviewers (News, 12 April) is to choose a path of self-protection rather than recognise the needs of survivors and give priority to them, and to the health of the Church and society.

There is a well-documented pattern of continued structural secrecy. This is a failing common to large organisations in a position of power and influence, and is defined in the book Crime and Human Rights: Criminology of atrocity and genocide by Joachim J. Savelsberg (Sage Publishing, 2010):

“Here we benefit from the work of a scholar, who has greatly contributed to our understanding of the ‘dark side of organisations,’ the many instances of regular rule breaking behaviour that is characteristic of life even in legitimate organizations.

“Sociologist Diane Vaughan stresses that members of organizations are always exposed to structural pressures resulting from competition and gaps between goals and legitimate means. They are likely to resort to the violation of laws, rules and regulations in order to meet organizational goals.

“Such rule violations become more likely as necessary structural features of organizations such as hierarchy or specialized subunits, create ‘structural secrecy,’ meaning they provide settings intra-organizationally where risk of detection and sanctioning are minimized. In addition, organizational processes such as the ‘normalization of deviance’ (ie, acceptance of deviant behaviour as normal) provide normative support for illegality, a pattern that has been documented” (page 78).

The best means of checking ourselves and our Church is through a system of accountability, as recommended by the reviewer, with the collaboration of survivors. All of us would be better served and safeguarded, including senior leadership, by listening to these survivors’ recommendations. It is a specialist area, which takes in much more than those assumed to be one-to-one cases at a parish level.

If our rhetoric is one of “All are welcome and all are loved,” we need to live up to the love we offer — a love that demands vulnerability and a willingness to listen to the voices of those in pain. When someone is hungry for bread, we should not then hand them a stone.

BONNIE EVANS-HILLS
Address supplied

November 20 2017 – An Open Letter to William Nye and the National Safeguarding Steering Group [NSSG] and National Safeguarding Panel [NSP] – Church of England

Press-Release
 
I have been moved to write after reading the Church Times letter this week by Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – the daughter of Franz Hildebrandt who was, as you know, a great friend of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester:
I was appalled to read the Revd Tom Brazier’s assertion that we “do no further harm” to anyone, if we happen to ruin the reputation of a deceased person against whom allegations of abuse have been made by apologising to the complainant (Letters, 10 November)…I am sure none of us would endorse the statement that “no further harm” has been done to the reputation and legacy of one of the country’s greatest Bishops. I would suggest that Mr Brazier visit Chichester and find out for himself just how much harm has been done
Today, Monday, two days after the Chichester Diocesan Synod in Lewes – and wanting to help rather than harm – may I urge you please to bring forward the release date of the Carlile Review on Bishop Bell.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Richard W. Symonds
2 Lychgate Cottages, Ifield Street, Ifield Village, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf) Email: richardsy5@aol.com

November 20 2017 – National Safeguarding Steering Group [NSSG] and National Safeguarding Panel [NSP] – Church of England

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/safeguarding/national-safeguarding-governance

NSSG

The National Safeguarding Steering Group met for the first time on 12 October 2016.  This group, established by the Archbishops, is a successor to the House of Bishops Safeguarding Monitoring and Reference Group.  Its membership consists of a range of representatives from across the Church, to include National Church Institutions, the dioceses and Cathedrals.  It is chaired by the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock and staffed by the National Safeguarding Team.

The activities of the NSSG are set out in its Terms of Reference. The membership of the NSSG includes both lay and clerical representation and are appointed by the Archbishops (see list below).

For all safeguarding concerns or to find support

General safeguarding enquiries – safeguardingeo@churchofengland.org

List of members

Rt Revd Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Lead Bishop for Safeguarding (Chair)

Rt Revd Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, Deputy Bishop for Safeguarding (Vice Chair)

Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton

Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, Bishop of Huddersfield

Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester

Mrs Mary Chapman, Chair of the Archbishops’ Council Audit Committee

Dr Jamie Harrison, Member of the Archbishops’ Council and Chair of the House of Laity, General Synod

William Featherby QC, member of the Board of the Church Commissioners

Very Revd Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester

Rt Revd Tim Thornton, Bishop at Lambeth

Revd Malcolm Macnaughton, Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of York

National Safeguarding Panel

The Church of England has published the first report from its National Safeguarding Panel (NSP), set up to provide vital reference and scrutiny from a range of voices, including survivors, on the development of policy and guidance. The Panel’s members also include directors and chief executives of safeguarding charities and organisations, and church leaders and officers. It was set up, following the Chichester safeguarding reports, to resource the Church of England’s leadership (Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops) with good high-level strategic advice and direction on safeguarding. Its main aims are to:

  • Provide visible leadership and excellence
  • Promote good safeguarding practice
  • Support a survivor perspective

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock who chairs the Panel and is the CofE’s lead bishop on safeguarding, said: “The Panel provides that vital perspective for the Church to view its safeguarding work through the lens of experts and voices from a range of backgrounds and experiences.  Survivor voices are critical to the Panel and I commend their commitment to support this ongoing work.  I would like to thank Bishop Paul Butler, my predecessor in the role, who was instrumental in setting up the Panel and getting its important work off the ground.”