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Synod to consider way forward for safeguarding  

20 June 2024

But members will not yet have the chance to vote on which course is taken

Geoff Crawford/Church Times

The General Synod meets in London, in February

The General Synod meets in London, in February

FOUR models for the future of Church of England safeguarding will be presented to the General Synod when it meets next month, but members will not yet have the chance to vote on which course is taken.

Instead, it was revealed yesterday, members will be invited to vote for further analysis to be done on the proposals, in time for the group of sessions next February.

In February this year, Synod members voted for a consultation (News, 1 March) after a report by Professor Alexis Jay recommended the creation of two new independent bodies: one to provide safeguarding services, and the other to scrutinise this work (News, 23 February).

Along with the update paper GS 2364, the results of a survey soliciting responses to Professor Jay’s report were published on Thursday afternoon.

The Church Times reported at the end of last month that the results indicated strong opposition among senior clergy and church safeguarding staff to a model in which day-to-day safeguarding would be conducted by an independent body (News, 31 May). There was, however, overwhelming support for the creation of a body to provide independent scrutiny of safeguarding work.

Models reflecting these options are laid out in GS 2364, and a motion will be debated on 8 July which calls for “detailed analysis” of them.

A “baseline” model outlined in the paper would involve no major structural reorganisation, but would continue work towards fulfilling the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) — a process chaired by Professor Jay.

Models two and three offer variations on independent scrutiny of safeguarding work, with model three incorporating a new external body that would take responsibility for safeguarding casework that reaches a certain threshold.

The final model “follows closely the recommendations presented by Professor Jay”, the paper says, and would create two new bodies.

The motion to be put before Synod is:

That this Synod thank the Response Group for its work, welcome the progress update set out in GS 2364, and noting that feedback has identified concerns with:

  1. Professor Jay’s recommendations on spiritual abuse and the definition of safeguarding; and
  2. The role of bishops in decision-making on safeguarding cases

ask for detailed analysis of the options set out in the paper to be undertaken for the General Synod in February.

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