THE National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England could be answerable to a fully independent body within weeks.
On Monday, the Archbishops’ Council voted unanimously in favour of a proposal that would establish independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (NST) and be put in place before the General Synod in February 2021. This would take the form of a safeguarding trustee board with a “majority of entirely independent members” and some clergy (News, 23 October), which would be responsible for bringing in fully independent oversight, perhaps including diocesan safeguarding officers, by February 2022.
A statement on the Church of England website on Tuesday explained: “The interim oversight model would include the creation of a new safeguarding board with a majority of entirely independent members, including a chair, who would have delegated responsibility for the oversight of the NST, to ensure independence of scrutiny and feedback.
“The board could then help determine the approach to implementing full independent oversight, which will include proposed structural changes for closer working with and oversight of diocesan safeguarding officers, particularly on casework, as outlined in the IICSA recommendations [News, 9 October]. The detailed arrangements for this, and the resulting allocation of responsibilities, will need to be worked out fully through this process of consultation.”
The detailed arrangements for this and the allocation of responsibilities would be worked out through a process of consultation, it says. The statement continues: “Consultation with survivor representatives has made it very clear that they want to see independent oversight for all cases, not just national ones. This particularly reflects the first IICSA recommendation. There will be full consultation with survivor groups and with dioceses as detailed proposals are drawn up.
“The Archbishops’ Council noted the importance of how the principle of independence is worked out in relation to dioceses, and of ensuring input and feedback from parishes and PCCs. There will be a more detailed timeline in place by February Synod for the following 12 months as this work is progressed. The Council agreed the importance of increased resources to ensure this structure is in place by February Synod.”
The Archbishops’ Council also voted unanimously to set up and fund the Interim Support Scheme for survivors (News, 27 November).