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Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation – interim report published

Thursday 30th August 2012

The interim report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester has today been published.

The report was written by Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC who were appointed as the Archbishop’s commissaries to carry out the enquiry.

In responding to the interim report, Archbishop Rowan Williams has made the following statement:

“I am very grateful to those who have been conducting the Visitation in the Diocese of Chichester and to all who have co-operated with this process – not least those survivors of abuse who have shared their experience.  The abiding hurt and damage done to them is something that none of us in the Church can ignore, and I am deeply sorry that they should have been let down by those they ought to have been able to trust.

I hope they will believe that we take their experience seriously: we owe them not only our words of apology but our best efforts to make sure that in the future our churches will be safe places for children and vulnerable people of all ages.  The interim report confirms that there have been many and longstanding failures in implementing a robust and credible safeguarding policy in the Diocese of Chichester.  The guidelines laid down by the national Church and the agreed standards of best practice have not been consistently followed and the flaws in safeguarding practice have put children and others at risk.

In the last couple of years much has been done to improve the situation but there remain several areas of concern.  In the light of this, I have decided that the visitation should continue and that both safeguarding and appointments matters should be conducted under the supervision of this office until uniformly better practice can be assured.

The problems relating to safeguarding in Chichester have been specific to that diocese rather than a reflection of failures in the legal processes or national policies of the Church of England. Nevertheless in the course of their work those who have conducted the visitation have identified some areas where they believe that lessons learned from Chichester could usefully point to some further development of national policy or processes. These will now be considered, along with the rest of this Report, by our national Safeguarding group as soon as possible."

The Church is committed to listening to the survivors of abuse and learning lessons from the past.

We would encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward – their privacy and wishes will be respected.  A special helpline has been set up in conjunction with the NSPCC on 0800 389 5344. Victims can also make a report to police.

We would also urge anyone with any concerns about a child protection issue to contact the police.


In December 2011 the Archbishop appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to carry out the enquiry. They were tasked with advising the Archbishop on any steps that needed to be taken to ensure the highest possible standards of safeguarding in the diocese. This involved examining current child protection arrangements as well as making recommendations for the future.

The Commissaries’ recommendations in relation to the Diocese of Chichester are listed below and the full text of the report can be read here.

Recommendations in respect of the diocese of Chichester

  1. A fresh commitment of obedience is necessary to the call of Christ to enable children to come to Him.

  2. A change in culture must be created in which the sanctity, dignity and well being of children and vulnerable adults is openly and transparently at the heart of the diocese.

  3. The dysfunctionality within the senior diocesan team must be urgently addressed.

  4. It is essential that the diocese is able to place trust in the professional judgment of the safeguarding group and safeguarding officer and the whole diocesan team is held together in a common commitment to the task. A day-away should be considered between the safeguarding officer and the senior clergy and diocesan secretary.

  5. All clergy (whether licensed or having a permission to officiate) must have up-to-date CRB checks. Such a check should also be made in relation to any person who is a regular attender at any particular church and who is permitted on any occasion to preach or to give public testimony in that church. This should apply to any person of whatever Church who is permitted to officiate or preach under Canon B 43.

  6. The area scheme should be reconsidered and the senior team must function as a team throughout the diocese. The diocesan bishop should not have a discrete area of his own.

  7. The diocesan guidelines The Care and Protection of Children (2009) should be brought fully into line with the House of Bishops’ guidelines Protecting All God’s Children (2010). Specific recommendations in relation to this (and in particular to confessions) as well as in relation to the diocesan guidelines Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Vulnerable Adults (2011) are set out in Appendix II.

  8. All safeguarding policies should be agreed with the safeguarding group. All protocols should have regard to the safeguarding arrangements put in place by the children’s services department and should fully inter-face with those arrangements.

  9. The safeguarding material produced both by the Church in Wales and by the Catholic Church in Australia should be consulted. In particular the diocesan safeguarding policy, as well as all accompanying material, needs to be very clear about the actions needed when an allegation of abuse is made. There should be protocols that set out a clear procedure, proper record keeping and timescales for each step to be taken. Care must be taken to ensure that all safeguarding material is easy to digest, clear and as short as possible.

  10. All training must be supported by easily understood literature. A small laminated aide-memoire should also be provided that can easily be carried in a wallet or handbag.

  11. More resources (both in personnel and monies) must be provided for safeguarding.

  12. There must be one hundred per cent compliance throughout the diocese with its safeguarding policies. In particular:
    • All clergy (of whatever seniority and whether licensed, non-stipendiary or having permission to officiate) should undergo regular training in safeguarding. (Consideration should be given to a survivor of clerical abuse speaking at such training sessions.)
    • Training should stress that no priest or lay person should wait for a request  before disclosing any relevant safeguarding information.
    • The archdeacons should ensure that all such clergy comply with training requirements.
    • All incumbents and priests-in-charge should ensure that the appropriate laity within their parishes undergo the requisite safeguarding training.
    • Save in exceptional cases any failure to comply with parish training requirements, or to respond expeditiously to enquiries by relevant diocesan authorities as to the current state of parish safeguarding training, should be the basis of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.
  13. Any safeguarding complaint, however apparently minor, should be reported immediately to the diocesan safeguarding officer who should in turn notify the diocesan bishop as soon as possible.

  14. On the receipt of an anonymous complaint the diocesan authorities must be vigilant to make (or instigate) such investigations as are still both proper and possible.

  15. The diocesan authorities must remain both vigilant and open to the wider implications of all allegations of abuse (whether anonymous or not) as well as to all possible means of investigation.

  16. Any complaint against a member of the clergy must immediately be acknowledged and thereafter vigorously followed up.  The diocesan bishop is under a duty himself to institute enquiries in the face of any allegation not amounting to a formal complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

  17. If a criminal prosecution fails or the police decide there is insufficient evidence upon which to bring a criminal prosecution, the bishop must nevertheless give serious consideration as to whether a complaint should be pursued under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

  18. If a complaint of abuse which is not obviously malicious is made against a member of the clergy the cleric should immediately be suspended whether mandatorily or voluntarily unless the police request otherwise.

  19. Discussions should be held with the diocesan insurers as how best the diocese may react in the light of allegations of abuse whether or not the abuse can be legally substantiated react. Ideally a method should be found by which survivors can obtain an apology and other redress without resorting to an adversarial dispute, perhaps through mediation.

  20. A confidentiality clause should never be included in any agreement reached with a survivor. It is essential that there is complete transparency about any abuse that has occurred.

  21. The diocesan bishop should offer an apology on behalf of the diocese to a survivor face to face. Letters of apology should be personal in both form and content. They should be signed by the diocesan bishop and sent directly to the survivor concerned.

  22. The new diocesan bishop should as a matter of priority and early in his episcopacy offer to visit personally all known survivors who have not yet been visited.

  23. We recommend that the diocese should offer to help fund the survivors’ group run by Philip Johnson as an acknowledgment of the diocese’s continuing responsibility for the harm done to those survivors.

  24. The funding of counselling for a survivor should only cease if the relevant counsellor believes that it has ceased to be effective.

  25. Any necessary weeding of files should be kept to a minimum. Care must be taken that all blue files and safeguarding files continue to contain any material that may in future impinge upon safeguarding matters.

  26. All clergy involved in pastoral work should keep a record that can be perused by the archdeacon or other higher authority; the record should contain a record of who has been seen pastorally and include a brief statement of the general purpose of the encounter, the date, time and place. Training should emphasise the necessity never to contact or work with children, or to counsel vulnerable adults, when no other responsible adult is in the immediate vicinity and thus able to act as ‘chaperone’.

  27. It should be made clear that no permission to officiate is granted as of right, however senior or experienced the cleric concerned may be.

  28. Save in the most exceptional cases no permission to officiate should be granted to any cleric who has been found guilty (or has admitted) committing sexual abuse. In those exceptional cases the permission should only be granted by the diocesan bishop and with the concurrence of the safeguarding officer; in any such case the churchwardens and parish safeguarding officers of the relevant and neighbouring parishes should immediately be notified of the situation.

  29. A permission to officiate should never be conditional or subject to limitation.

  30. It should be stressed to the diocesan clergy that it is an ecclesiastical offence to officiate without a licence, or to preach without the bishop’s permission, and that it is also an ecclesiastical offence to permit a cleric so to act. Save in the most exceptional cases any breach should lead to the laying of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

  31. Relevant clergy files should always be consulted before a cleric is appointed to a post within the diocese of Chichester either from within the diocese or from another diocese.

  32. The membership of the diocesan safeguarding group should be kept under constant review. The diocesan bishop should meet, or speak to, the chair of the safeguarding group regularly. The group should always be chaired by a lay person with recognised safeguarding qualifications and all clerical nominees should be appointed by the diocesan bishop.


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