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Church of England resists call for national safeguarding body

Thu 04 Apr 2019
By Alex Williams

The suggestion of a new national body to oversee the handing of abuse allegations - as well as the protection of children and vulnerable adults - within the Church of England (C of E) has been rejected by leaders.

The recommendation was made in a new report published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) on Tuesday, which followed four years of research involving C of E dioceses and dozens of abuse survivors.

In a statement the C of E told Premier: "The Church believes that retaining ownership and leadership of safeguarding in the diocese outweighs the benefits of making diocesan safeguarding advisers employed nationally.

 

"Dioceses must own and be responsible for safeguarding while acknowledging the importance of having a professional in the role.

"There are things in place to improve consistency - an escalation process to the national team if issues arise, professional support for diocesan safeguarding advisors etc."

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The SCIE said staff appointed by the Church of England's 42 dioceses to oversee safeguarding (diocesan safeguarding advisors or DSAs) are currently answerable to their diocesan bishop.

The national body said appointing, managing and supervising the DSAs at a national level would "outweigh" the benefits of local ownership.

 

 

In its report, the SCIE said: "A national safeguarding service will be better able to resolve the current difficulties relating to supervision and management, with the potential to also...provide a greater level of independence in the safeguarding service and divorce it from any considerations of the welfare of alleged abusers who may be friends and colleagues of diocesan decision-makers."

The majority of abuse survivors who spoke to the SCIE said they had been unsatisfied with the response of the Church to their case. In response, the C of E said the results of the survivor survey made for "very difficult reading".

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The Church's National Safeguarding Steering Group said the Church will create a so-called Survivor Charter - setting out the level of care abuse survivors should expect.

The group also said funding has already been secured to launch - in partnership with the Catholic Church - a new telephone helpline for those affected by abuse.

Last month, a Church of England diocese has issued an "unreserved apology" to a man sexually assaulted by a priest during childhood.

The Diocese of Chester also accepted it failed to act on information concerning now-retired clergyman Charles Gordon Dickenson which surfaced ten years ago.

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