THE Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the
Draft Amending Canon No. 34 received their first consideration in
the Synod on Friday afternoon.
The draft legislation contains provisions arising from the
review of the safeguarding issues in the diocese of Chichester.
Moving both pieces of draft legislation, the Bishop of
Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, summarised the proposals
in the draft Measure and Canon.
If the Measure was passed, people would be barred from serving
as members of PCCs, district church councils, and synods if they
were convicted of an offence listed in Schedule One of the Children
and Young Persons Act 1993.
In addition, anybody who appeared on a barred list under the
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 would be barred from
serving as a churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, DCC, or
The Draft Amending Canon would allow bishops to order clergy to
undergo a compulsory risk-assessment, subject to an appeal against
the order to the President of Tribunals (currently the High Court
Judge Lord Justice Mummery).
The risk assessment would "not make determinative findings about
disputed past behaviour", as this was the work of the disciplinary
tribunals. Nor would an adverse assessment, in itself, result in
the removal of a cleric from office.
Members of the clergy would be obliged to "participate in
arrangements for safeguarding training approved by the diocesan
bishop", and no lay person can receive a bishop's licence unless he
or she had "undergone suitable safeguarding training".
Unlicensed clerics would not be invited to officiate, or allowed
to robe during services, unless they had authority to minister from
a diocesan bishop.
The Measure would also require diocesan bishops to appoint a
safeguarding adviser; and it would remove the statutory limitation
under the Clergy Discipline Measure, so that complaints alleging
sexual misconduct against a child or vulnerable adult made more
than one year after the alleged offence could be heard without the
need to seek permission to proceed out of time from the President
The Revd Mark Steadman (Southwark) said that
survivors of abuse had not been placed at the centre of these new
processes. He said that he regretted that powers of suspension for
clergy and lay officers were not bolder.
More work needed to be done, he said, on legal-aid rules, to
ensure that clergy could get good legal advice if disciplinary
measures were being contemplated. "Let's take this opportunity to
be even more rigorous," he said.
The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) said that what was
needed as well as this legislation was a cultural change, so that
people would be more aware of the dangers of abuse in churches.
Physical and emotional abuse should also be covered by this
legislation, as should non-vulnerable adults, he said.
Mary Nagel (Chichester) warned: "We must be
careful to get the legislation right, and beware of an emotional
victim-led agenda which could spoil our thinking, especially with
the use of pressure groups." There were "numerous examples of
churches that have supported survivors".
Justin Brett (Chichester) raised a concern
whether the legislation achieved the desired intent. It referred to
two lists of people who could be prevented from taking up positions
of leadership: those who had been found guilty of an offence listed
in Schedule 1 of the 1933 Act, and those on a barred list. Yet it
was possible to be guilty of the former and not on the latter.
It was also possible to be on a barred list and not guilty of a
1933 Act offence. The legislation stated that a bishop could
overrule the result of someone's being guilty of an offence under
the Act, but not someone's being on a barred list. There was need
for further "serious legal thinking".
John Freeman (Chester) offered apologies to the
survivors present at the debate. He disclosed that he had been
abused, and that the perpetrator had "spent time at His Majesty's
Pleasure". He thanked Bishop Butler for taking on board his
recommendation about the drafting of the Measure.
David Kemp (Canterbury) had previously berated
the centre of the Church of England for "not getting it", but he
was now more encouraged. He queried how the Church would deal with
an "ordinary member of the congregation". You could not ask for
everyone to have a DBS in a Church with "fuzzy edges. . . The
question is: where are we going to draw the line?"
The Ven. Dr John Applegate (Manchester) sought
clarify what he had said in February about those teaching in
theological educational institutions. His argument was not "special
pleading", but that these teachers needed to be included in the
legislation. Because they were not licensed by bishops, these
teachers were in a "very odd position". The loophole needed to be
The Revd Simon Cawdell (Hereford) commented
that there needed to be a responsibility not just on incumbents to
prevent unlicensed clergy wearing robes to services, but also the
unlicensed clergy themselves. He also raised a concern that the
principle of the absolute confidentiality of confession might be
"unhelpful and dangerous" if it prevented clergy from exposing
The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) said that
there should be a route of appeal for those given negative risk
assessments, as mistakes could be made.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan
Gledhill, had a question about how long suspension could last. If
up to two years, this could be "devastating" - not just for the
cleric, but for his or her family and community
Prebendary Stephen Lynas (Bath & Wells)
argued that the proper resources must be supplied to enable
implementation of the safeguarding Measure: "It's a lot of money,
but it's going to have to be found."
The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew
Nunn (Southwark), was "completely supportive" of the Measure, but
raised a concern about the requirements for vetting those robed.
"All I would ask is that resources be put there to enable checks to
The Revd Rowan Williams (York) raised a concern
about training for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults. This had
not been included in the diocesan training she had attended, she
The Synod voted that the draft legislation should be considered
for revision in committee.