Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Last week saw the interim report from the commissaries whom the Archbishop appointed to look into the operation of child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester. This is the latest stage in the long-running scandal of clerical child abuse in that Diocese. If Anglicans are tempted to feel that this is only a Roman Catholic problem then this should give us pause.

The report makes fairly miserable reading. Some of it is specific to Chichester but the whole report will be looked at nationally by our Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group and no doubt there will be recommendations for all Dioceses. Meanwhile, we shall be considering it here, as we did the report by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss earlier this year. Here are a few immediate reactions:

  1. The importance of doing simple things properly. This was one of the main lessons from Lord Laming's report into Victoria ClimbiĆ© ten years ago and it remains true. For a Diocese this includes such things as ensuring that all clergy including those with Permission to Officiate have up to date CRB checks and that this is recorded, that references are sought and given, and that only those who are properly authorized are invited to take services or preach.
  2. The need for a regular training programme for all clergy.
  3. The need to make a record of pastoral work.
  4. The need to ensure that if files are weeded, that all information relating to safeguarding is retained. This is as necessary to protect those about whom unfounded allegations have been made as it is to document well-founded concerns.
  5. The need to report all allegations of abuse including so-called historic cases to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (myself). I can advise on referrals to statutory authorities or make them myself. 
  6. The need to use the Clergy Discipline Measure in appropriate cases including when a criminal prosecution is not possible or has failed.
  7. The need to reach out effectively to survivors.
Because most things go well most of the time we can be tempted to lapse into complacency. It is so easy to think 'It couldn't happen here'. Believe me: it can.