The Church of England has been criticised for disregarding a number of allegations in its inquiry into child sexual abuse and then downplaying the issue to protect its reputation.
A report by former Barnardo’s chief executive Sir Roger Singleton found that the C of E’s investigation failed to identify at least 22 cases of possible abuse.
Inconsistent and overly specific criteria reduced the number of cases they reported for the Past Cases Review (PCR), published in 2010, leading it to conclude after examining 40,000 files that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse merited formal action.
Sir Roger, who was commissioned to complete the inquiry into the review, said he believed the Church “downplayed” the issue in public statements to avoid reputational damage.
However, he also said he found “no evidence whatsoever of a deliberate attempt to mislead” or that anyone broke the law.
His report recommended that:
1. Cathedrals and other parts of the church with decision-making bodies should conduct an updated review if they were not involved in the PCR;
2. All relevant files not examined in 2008-09 are independently reviewed;
3. All safeguarding concerns about parish employee or volunteer behaviour should be notified to the diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA);
4. “Renewed impetus” should be given to the recording and cross-referencing of safeguarding issues.
The report will be sent to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse, to which Sir Roger gave evidence in March.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today shortly before the report was published on Friday, Sir Roger said it seemed “extraordinary” now that the Church investigators did not meet with more victims but “the importance of listening” to them was “less understood” in 2010 than it is now.
Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, said the criticisms had been taken “very seriously” and acted upon. “The House of Bishops have offered full support to implementing the recommendations in the report and any subsequent actions,” he added.
“We are committed to making sure that any known individuals who have not been dealt with appropriately in the past are assessed and any current potential risks to children and others are rigorously managed, including by reporting these individuals to the statutory authorities for investigation.”
How can our Personal Injury Lawyers help?
Gotelee Solicitors have a specialist team of Suffolk lawyers led by James Davies who can provide sensitive care and expert guidance to people who may wish to bring civil claims for compensation as a result of sexual abuse in their past.
The Suffolk law firm, which has offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Woodbridge, is partnered with Ipswich charity Survivors in Transition (SiT) to help navigate victims through the process. SiT aims to empower survivors to take control of their lives and cope better with the daily effects the abuse has left them with.
Gotelee is members of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which help to bring together a team of experts, including doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and specialist barristers.
To find out how we can help you, contact us on 01473 298125.