SURVIVORS of church-based abuse who were awaiting reviews by the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) into how their cases were handled have been given some clarity about the next steps, three months after the ISB was disbanded.
On Thursday, Church House released a statement announcing the appointment of Kevin Crompton as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews”. He will start work this month, and will “ensure the work promised by the former ISB . . . can continue”, the statement says.
Mr Crompton is described in the statement as “a senior safeguarding professional with experience in child and adult safeguarding and scrutiny in local authority setting”. The Church Times understands that he has been contracted via an agency, and, as was the case with the members of the ISB, he will be paid by the Archbishops’ Council.
It is understood that the interview panel that appointed him consisted of a member of the Council, an external safeguarding professional, and a survivor.
The statement continues: “The Archbishops’ Council had committed to setting in place arrangements to ensure that the case reviews and complaint responses promised by the former ISB would continue, where those met the terms of reference for the ISB, and as a result of feedback had also offered an independent advocacy service.”
Mr Crompton will oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the review into the case of “Mr X”, which was overseen by Steve Reeves, who was at the time one of the board members of the ISB. His review was published in May (News, 31 May). Its recommendations included the creation of a case-management system, and a single point of contact for each survivor receiving long-term support.
A “menu of reviewers” is now to be offered to survivors, the Church House statement says. These include the charities NSPCC and Thirtyone: eight, along with the chairs of diocesan safeguarding advisory panels. “FearFree (formerly FearLess) has been engaged to provide advocacy and support for the survivors with completed, active and pending reviews and complaints.”
The statement continues: “The majority of survivors have had an opportunity to feed into these arrangements but the Archbishops’ Council is aware of four individuals who had review requests with the former ISB but whose contact details have not been passed on. The former ISB office staff can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how their review will proceed.”
Mr Crompton said: “I am pleased to have been offered this opportunity to make a contribution to this important piece of work. I am looking forward to working with survivors to ensure they have an independent review of their concerns. I also will do all I can to ensure that recommendations of such reviews are given proper consideration and are implemented within reasonable timeframes.”
After Mr Reeves and the ISB’s survivor-advocate, Jasvinder Sanghera, were sacked by the Archbishop’s Council in June (News, 21 June), there was uncertainty about how the reviews which had been promised by the ISB would be delivered, despite a commitment from the Council that they would go ahead.
In July, a Church House spokesperson said that they hoped to have more details “later this month” about how the outstanding reviews could be conducted (News, 24 July).
One of the survivors who had been awaiting a review, Jane Chevous, posted on social media in response to the announcement on Thursday that she was “glad there’s an announcement at last”; but she expressed concern that “they are trying to exclude some reviews.”
Ms Chevous also wrote that she was “disappointed that we haven’t been asked what we want”, but said that she would “look forward to meeting the commissioner with my questions”.
Mr Reeves also posted online to say that he had heard of one person who had been told that their review would not be going forward, as it did not qualify under the terms of reference used by the former ISB.
After the July announcement that Professor Alexis Jay had been appointed to develop proposals for the future of safeguarding in the C of E (News, 20 July), Ms Chevous had suggested that the survivors waiting for reviews should be the priority. Until they were, she said, “I don’t think that it’s right, and I don’t think there’s any point, in talking about the future” (News, 24 July).