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Lambeth Palace sets out safeguarding action plan

01 December 2023

Lambeth Palace

LAMBETH PALACE has published a Safeguarding Action Plan, in response to the publication of an independent audit by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) this year (News, 28 February).

The SCIE audit, which was conducted last year (News, 11 February 2022), is part of a national audit of Church of England safeguarding, covering all dioceses, cathedrals, and the two archbishops’ palaces (News, 4 April 2019).

The purpose of the SCIE audit of Lambeth Palace was to assess current safeguarding policies and practice, alongside the wider culture surrounding safeguarding. The work was undertaken by reviewing documents, conducting one-to-one interviews, and holding focus groups.

The SCIE report, published on 30 January, recommended 65 “questions” for Lambeth to consider. The published action plan is a progress report on the response to those questions. There will be annual updates.

Among the steps set out in the action plan are the routine monitoring of the safety of Lambeth Palace staff and residents, ensuring that all employees are recruited in accordance with the Safer Recruitment and People Management policy, ensuring that staff respond consistently well to anyone who makes contact about a safeguarding issue, reviewing the complaints process, and collecting feedback from victims and survivors.

The SCIE report had noted the absence of “independent, experienced, and expert safeguarding advice” at Lambeth Palace, which has now appointed Sir David Behan. A former social worker, who has worked for many years in the health and social-care sector, and more recently in policy, regulation, education, and leadership development, he will provide independent strategic safeguarding advice to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Progress in implementing almost all of the recommendations in the SCIE audit report is described in the action plan as “ongoing”. The Chief of Staff and Strategy and safeguarding lead at Lambeth Palace, the Revd Ijeoma Ajibade, said on Wednesday that the action plan was “only the beginning” of a long-term process.

“We have considered very seriously how we strengthen our safeguarding response, and we believe this Action Plan is a robust start,” she said. “But this is only the beginning. We will keep on reflecting and monitoring, and, most crucially, we will make sure we respond to victims and survivors with warmth, compassion, and professionalism.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the action plan demonstrated his “ongoing commitment” to safeguarding. “I want victims and survivors to be at the front and centre of any process that involves them, and this plan is designed to do exactly that. I am committed to their continued safety and well-being, which is of paramount importance to build up the necessary trust and confidence in the Church that has been lost through past failures. It is right that we listen and act to improve safeguarding here at Lambeth Palace and across the Church.”

The full action plan is available here.

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