Guardian News and Media LTD/Adrian Sherratt

Recommendations to protect church abuse survivors 'have been ignored'

Sun 17 Dec 2017
By Press Association

A safeguarding expert who wrote a review of sex abuse within the Church of England said his recommendations for better practice to protect survivors have been ignored.

Ian Elliott told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme he was "very disturbed" by statements about alleged "factual inaccuracies" in his report, and said those within the Church who could support his findings have failed to back him publicly.

Taking the unusual step of speaking out about the report, Mr Elliott said he was particularly perturbed by senior figures within the Church who wrongly believed pastoral support to victims should be withdrawn the moment legal proceedings begin.

Mr Elliott said withdrawing that care left survivors, particularly those with mental health issues, vulnerable.

He said: "Now that just simply should never happen and I needed to draw attention to that fact in the report, which I did, and I think that's something which - my impression is - has caused a great deal of upset and concern amongst many who I do not think have the correct attitude or approach to survivors within the Church of England."

Mr Elliott said one survivor told him he had spoken to two senior and prominent members of the CofE about his "shocking" abuse, but they had not taken "the required actions".

He said: "(The survivor) spoke to 23 victims, all of whom he identified when and where the conversations took place. Not all of those individuals said they could remember the conversations, but half of them did and confirmed they had not taken the right actions - not known really what do to."

Mr Elliott said the main factors included a lack of knowledge on the part of the individuals who heard the victim's "sad and distressing and disturbing story".

He said: "What is absolutely clear, none of them took the appropriate action - recorded any notes that had taken place.

"Unfortunately (the victim) is someone who suffers from mental health difficulties. That support was delayed before it could be provided to him."

He added: "I set out a number of recommendations in my review and I am disappointed those have not been progressed further.

"The one I would wish to emphasise is the need for independent scrutiny of safeguarding practice within the CofE."

Mr Elliott said there was "a tremendous difference" between the Church's stated safeguarding policy and its practice.

Graham Tilby, the Church of England's national safeguarding adviser, said the institution issued an unreserved apology to the survivor and accepted Mr Elliott's report.

He added: "The report and its recommendations raised some really important issues and new disclosure training for all senior staff in dioceses and the national Church is already being rolled out and has had very positive feedback.

"We take any recommendations on the issue of independence very seriously.

"Each dioceses will have been independently audited by the Social Care Institute for Excellence by the end of this year; each diocese has an independently chaired diocesan safeguarding panel which includes senior officers from statutory partners like the police and social care; each diocese employs or commissions diocesan safeguarding advisers and/or teams who are appointed to provide professional safeguarding expertise to the dioceses and take a lead role in managing safeguarding concerns or allegations against clergy and church officers.

"We do keep these arrangements under review and are fully engaging with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the first public hearing of which on the Anglican Church is in March 2018."

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