National Safeguarding Steering Group July meeting
Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, the Bishop of Rochester and lead safeguarding bishop chaired the meeting and informed members of the appointment of the new national director of safeguarding, Alex Kubeyinje who will be starting in September. Bishop Jonathan thanked Zena Marshall for acting as interim director for the past 18 months.
A range of communications items were highlighted:
- The London Diocese report on the death of Fr Alan Griffin, which contained recommendations for the national Church, noting some are wider than safeguarding
- Website updates on the Redress Scheme and Smyth Review
- Importance of the survivor voice in ongoing training for responding to concerns raised online
Past Cases Review 2
Members received an update on the progress of the PCR2 national report with a full discussion on the current draft content. Members agreed to return to the discussion at its September meeting when a more final draft would be available along with detailed data.
Update from the interim national safeguarding director:
- Casework Management System which is now on its initial rollout phase
- Safe Spaces – latest on service which marks its two year anniversary in September
- Redress Scheme – noting the need to engage with dioceses and parishes as the legislation to underpin the scheme would include the principle of subsidiarity. There are plans for a pilot project by the end of next year. Concern was expressed by all members about the impact of this timeframe on survivors stressing the need to consider one off payments and enhance the remit of the Interim scheme.
- Learning Lessons Reviews: noting the final draft of the Smyth review is expected in the autumn followed by the representation stage. There is an independent organisation offering support to Smyth victims
Update from the independent chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, NSP
- The chair’s current blog is on the Clergy Conduct Measure
- Two members are due to leave the NSP in September but may stay on as recruitment can be slow.
- Further good practice events are scheduled for September.
- The previous NSP minutes demonstrated the importance of independence and questions being asked of the Church by people from outside the church as an important aspect of accountability.
The NSSG discussed and approved the principles for the next round of independent audits, to take place over four years (autumn 2023 – 2027). It was noted that the current chronology makes sense but is not set in stone. There was some discussion around making audits meaningful, to help improve quality and they must support not impede safeguarding work. It was also agreed to include Royal Peculiars by invitation – noting they had been willingly involved previously.
William Scott Farrell Lessons Learnt Review recommendations
There was a discussion around the recommendations and the follow up actions. They were all accepted noting that further clarity was needed in the response to two recommendations. WSF Final report.f.pdf (churchofengland.org)
Review of Church of England confidential declaration form and privacy notice.
Members discussed and approve the proposed revisions to the form which will come back to the September NSSG, The House of Bishops’ Safer Recruitment & People Management Guidance requires all applicants for roles that meet the criteria for an enhanced DBS to complete the Church of England Confidential Declaration Form. The existing form asks questions that have not been reviewed for some years, it was also noted that the current form is not easy to navigate and the new version will be more streamlined.