Synod today voted unanimously to fully accept the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s (IICSA) final investigation report into the Anglican Church, sincerely apologise to victims and survivors for the harm done by the church and endorse and commit itself to urgently implementing the six recommendations as set out on pages 4 – 6 of GS 2184’.
The debate and vote on this motion followed powerful and challenging testimonies and presentations to Synod from three survivor representatives: Jane Chevous, Roz Etwaria and Gilo. Jane is the co-founder of Survivors Voices; Roz is the founder and Project Manager of LittleRo.org and Gilo is a Survivor Reference Group member and Co-editor of the Book ‘Letters to a Broken Church’
The Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs, opened the debate thanking survivors “for being prepared to work with us to hold the Church to account and to enable us to see ourselves as others see us”. In a full speech to Synod he summarised the six IICSA recommendations saying that Synod’s “full acceptance of the IICSA report” means going beyond them. He particularly stressed that “above all it means putting victims and survivors at the heart of our concerns, so that we work and journey with them to help them rebuild their lives – and that will come at a serious cost, and so it should, as we develop plans for supporting survivors and for redress”.
Synod also voted on items of safeguarding legislation as the Church continues its work to strengthen its procedures in this area.
It approved the Religious Communities Regulations 2020 as set out in (GS 2192) (“the Regulations”). These set out the conditions a community must meet in order to be declared a religious community in the Church of England. These conditions include the requirement that all religious communities of the Church of England must comply with all House of Bishops safeguarding policies and practice guidance.
Synod also approved that the “Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure” be considered for revision in Full Synod’ and is due to come back in February. The Measure replaces the general “duty to have due regard to safeguarding guidance” which exists in the Church of England’s current legislation with a strengthened provision for a safeguarding Code Of Practice which will impose requirements on relevant persons to comply with all secular and Church Safeguarding legislation and practice guidance. In practice the current legislation imposes similar obligations but IICSA requested a change in the wording to make the nature of the obligation clear.