"DYSFUNCTIONALITY" within Chichester diocese is preventing
adequate child-safeguarding, and must be "urgently addressed", the
interim report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's commissaries,
published on Thursday of last week, says.
The archiepiscopal visitation, the first for more than 100
years, is being carried out by a former Bishop of Chelmsford, the
Rt Revd John Gladwin, and Canon Rupert Bursell QC (News, 30 December).
The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement, issued the
same day as the report, that there remained "several areas of
concern" in the diocese, and that he had therefore 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 interim report says that "dysfunctionality . . . continues
to impinge upon the adequacy of safeguarding within the diocese."
Such dysfunctionality - which includes clerics' officiating without
permission - demonstrates "a failure to appreciate the connection
between safeguarding and the proper structures of the Church".
The report goes on to say that "this dysfunctionality is
underlined by the facts that a decision was made (rightly or
wrongly) by some or all of the diocesan safeguarding advisory group
to commence the procedure to lay a complaint under the Clergy
Discipline Measure 2003 against the Bishop of Lewes [the Rt Revd
Wallace Benn] and that the latter has felt not only that he has
been consistently kept out of the loop but that he has been made
the scapegoat for systemic problems within the diocese" (News, 18 November
The report stops short of "pointing the finger at any
particular person or persons", but calls for "a radical change of
culture in the diocese - one in which the sanctity, dignity and
well-being of children and vulnerable adults is openly
and transparently at its heart".
Since the Historic Cases Review was carried out in the diocese,
in 2008-09, "a mutual lack of trust and confidence occurred between
the safeguarding advisory group" and the "senior team" of the
Bishop at that time, Dr John Hind, the report says. This "brought
about weaknesses within diocesan safeguarding".
The report also suggests that the episcopal-area scheme in
Chichester diocese has undermined the authority of the diocesan
bishop, with whom "final responsibility for safeguarding rests". It
is "essential for the well-being of safeguarding throughout the
diocese" that the area scheme "should now be reconsidered".
Concern is also expressed "about the level of resources
provided" in Chichester for safeguarding. Clerics who do not take
part in training on child-safeguarding, and who fail to ensure that
they have up to date Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks - on 14
June, there were 138 clergy in the diocese without current CRB
checks - should face disciplinary action.
Speaking on Thursday of last week, Bishop Gladwin said that the
diocese had "made a start" on implementing the recommendations of
a review by Baroness Butler-Sloss (News, 27 May), and that children
and vulnerable people were "a dear sight safer [in Chichester
diocese] than they were two years ago, because the diocese has
moved forward. But there is a lot more to be done."
Bishop Gladwin said that the appointment of a new diocesan
Bishop, Dr Martin Warner (News, 11 May),
was "a crucial change" for the diocese. He said that the visitation
would continue "for as long as" Dr Williams wanted it to; he would
be "very surprised" if the work were complete before the end of the
In a statement accompanying the publication of the report, Dr
Williams said that "the abiding hurt and damage" done to "survivors
of abuse" in Chichester diocese "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. .
"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."
Dr Williams said that his commissaries had "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
A statement from Dr Warner said in part: "I am deeply grateful
to the commissaries for their work in producing such a detailed,
honest and wide-ranging analysis of the current situation
concerning safeguarding in the diocese of Chichester. I have not
yet officially begun my work as diocesan bishop and so, in many
respects, their report comes at an apposite time as the diocese
also looks forward to a new phase in its ministry and mission."
The chairman of the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group, the Bishop
of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said that
the National Safeguarding Group would review some of the report's
recommendations "carefully", and that "any changes to the national
safeguarding policies would be for the House of Bishops to agree,
and any changes to the law would need to go to the General
A statement issued on Saturday by Minister & Clergy Sexual
Abuse Survivors (MACSAS) welcomed the publication of the report,
but expressed concern "that effective safeguarding procedures are
still not in place" in the diocese.
"What is now required is moral courage and committed effort on
the part of all working in the diocese of Chichester and the
National Safeguarding office of the Church of England to bring
about a radical change in thinking in the diocese and beyond."