National Safeguarding Steering Group, NSSG, January update


The meeting was chaired by the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop Joanne Grenfell who welcomed  Bishop Robert Springett, as the new deputy lead safeguarding bishop. She thanked the Bishop of Bristol Viv Faull for all the work she had contributed over the last three years.

Bishop Joanne noted that the Wilkinson report had been received and that Alexis Jay’s report would be published in early February although not in time for Synod papers. Thought will be given over the coming months as to the best foundations for safeguarding and scrutiny in the future through a Response Group. There was a further discussion at the end of the meeting about the importance of learning from Wilkinson and that while this was specifically a matter for the Archbishops’ Council the implications were for the whole of Church safeguarding.

National Safeguarding Panel, NSP

Kashmir Gharton, current interim chair outlined the recent work of the NSP:

  • A scrutiny panel looking at the Responding Well policy and its implementation
  • The appointment of a permanent chair and vice chair as current post holders are temporary.
  • The ToR are being reviewed and a draft will be brought to the next NSSG.
  • Work on reinstating the Panel’s blog has started.

Members agreed that recruitment of a permanent NSP chair can begin.

National Safeguarding Team, NST, director’s update:

  • Makin Review (Smyth): An update was published earlier in January which includes a proposed timeline.    
  • Interim Support Scheme: The result of the internal audit was positive with three areas for improvement relating to process.
  • National Safeguarding Casework Management System: the project has progressed significantly.
  • IICSA 1 & 8: The final round of evaluation is in progress focussing on the impact of the pathfinders with positive feedback, evaluations have been shared with Alexis Jay.
  • Discussion on the independent audits by INEQE. NST is supporting dioceses who are being audited and learning from each other about required documents etc.
  • Discussion on Domestic Abuse training - members were informed it was mandatory but there are changes to delivery to make it more manageable.
  • Feedback on the Safeguarding Standards had been positive to date.

Diocese in Europe PCR2 report

The one outstanding report from the PCR2 process was reviewed and signed off as complete.

Learning Lessons Reviews

Two papers were presented; the first outlining recommendations from reports 2012 -2019, the second from 2019 to the present day. These were about national reviews and it was agreed to provide further feedback from diocesan reviews at the next NSSG. There was also a discussion around the importance of ToR for reviews to ensure the recommendations were clear who they were for and not addressed generally to the Church.

NSSG noted progress on implementation of the recommendations and an update will be published on the Church of England website.

NSSG Terms of Ref and Safeguarding Programme Board, SPB

Members agreed there is ambiguity of reporting lines, and it was noted that the NSSG is a delegated body from the Archbishops’ Council, AC. Members heard that when the NSSG was originally formed there were many workstreams that were brought under the SPB but this may not be as necessary now as the workstreams are at a different stage of progress. The Jay report and decisions thereafter will also impact on reporting lines. Members agreed that the SPB could be disbanded over the coming months.

The ToR of the NSSG was also discussed as they need to reflect that it is a delegated committee of the AC. Members agreed that the legal dept would do a comprehensive review and bring back ToR to the next NSSG noting it was originally set up to consider reviews and whilst accountability remains locally there is a need for thematic learning across the Church. Members also discussed survivor representation, with next steps agreed, while noting it was governance not a consultative group.

Safeguarding & Living in Love and Faith, LLF paper: Learning for the Church of England from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA & Lessons Learned Reviews.

General Synod member Judith Maltby led a discussion on her paper with Louse Whitehead, Oxford, Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser. The paper refers to the many safeguarding reviews that have highlighted the need for a change in the culture of the Church relating to the LGBT+ community. The paper provides evidence of where a lack of understanding has led to poor outcomes and harm. Members heard that training needs to reflect this and that whilst it may not be easy to change culture, more work can still be done by opening up conversations. The Honest Church campaign was commended as a positive resource.

Members discussed the possibility of a small working group, further training with the NST and agreed to monitor LLRs thematically with LGBT+ in mind. It was agreed to publish the paper as a resource on the safeguarding learning and development area of  the Church of England website and to share with the House of Bishops.