THERE will be times when the Church will fail in its care to others, “and we need to do something about that”, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, as he introduced the Church in Wales’s new safeguarding policy, and proposed a motion that would adopt it and recognise “the importance of promoting safer practice for children, young people and adults at risk”.
“Many of us who are here today will have been nurtured in our faith through the work of the Church to children, at different times of our life,” he said. “We can be proud of the ministry that we provide to children and young people in Sunday schools, youth groups, and through work in schools.”
But, he said, it was “essential that safeguarding procedures provide professional support when good practice has not been followed and we see that children and vulnerable adults have been mistreated and hurt at the hands of adults they thought they could trust”.
The Archdeacon of Morgannwg, the Ven. Chris Smith (Llandaff), is not a member of the Governing Body, but he was invited to address the meeting as the chairman of the province’s safeguarding committee. He explained that the new policy was the result of the 2011 Historic Cases Review, and its 40 recommendations, which included a need for professional advice and support to be provided at all levels in the Church; and for an upgraded safeguarding policy that was “clear and precise, accessible, and usable”.
The new policy, he said, had been available online since 11 April, and would not be available in hard copy. This was to enable any “subsequent revisions or amendments to be included as soon as possible”.
He introduced the Church in Wales’s new safeguarding team, headed by Elaine Cloke; and two safeguarding officers, who would cover north and south Wales: Fay Howe and Wendy Lemon. They would be responsible for responding to allegations and concerns raised; while seven new safeguarding support officers would provide training and guidance to dioceses and parishes.
The Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson (Llandaff) seconded Dr Morgan’s motion. “Every person who has contact with the Church has a right to expect that the Church will reflect the values we proclaim,” she said. “When things have gone wrong, we need to be robust.”
The new policy was not universally welcomed. Pam Odam (Bangor) wanted to know where the support was “for those found to be innocent of allegations”. She said that two school head teachers known to her had “not received good pastoral care” even when they were cleared. “Occasionally, allegations are made either maliciously, or where there is no case to answer,” she said.
And Jennie Willson (St Asaph) described it as “a messy mixture of good policy and procedure that results in a lengthy document.” She described it as a “tick-box exercise” that “appears to be designed to protect the Church rather than children”.
With seven abstentions and two votes against, the Governing Body adopted the motion with a large majority:
That the Governing Body:
(i) adopt the Church in Wales Safeguarding Policy 2016;
(ii) recognise the importance of promoting safer practice for children, young people, and adults at risk within our churches and communities and the work undertaken by the Provincial Safeguarding team;
(iii) endorse the implementation of the Policy by the Church; and
(iv) request an annual report from the Head of Safeguarding to the Standing Committee on progress in safeguarding.