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Survivors group challenges Synod briefing paper: ‘Our cases have not progressed’

20 February 2024

Sam Atkins/Church Times

One of the members of the group of survivors, Jane Chevous, addresses the Synod, last July

One of the members of the group of survivors, Jane Chevous, addresses the Synod, last July

THE 11 survivors of church-related abuse who were awaiting reviews from the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) when it was disbanded last year (News, 23 June 2023) say that they are no closer to receiving a review into their cases. This contradicts what members of the General Synod have been told.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the group, styling themselves the “ISB 11”, write: “Not one survivor is currently having their review progressed” by Kevin Crompton, who was appointed in September to take over the commissioning of independent reviews (News, 15 September 2023).

The statement disputes what is written in a General Synod paper, GS 2336, released on 9 February on behalf of the House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council. The paper says: “We are glad that several people are taking up this offer and working with Kevin to set in place reviews. We remain open to listening, to conversation, and to attempts to find resolution with all those affected.”

The group writes: “GS 2336 states that the ISB 11 have a means in place to continue with their reviews — this is untrue. The necessary conditions such as data-sharing agreements are not in place. It is also inaccurate to imply that the group are happily working with Kevin Crompton.

“The ISB 11 have instead expressed no confidence in his brief, role, or readiness to conduct our reviews on the same basis as the former ISB. Not one survivor is currently having their review progressed with/by him. We are deeply concerned that the General Synod has been fed misinformation which we assume is designed to appease Synod members. This has exacerbated the ‘significant harm’ to survivors as evidenced in the recent Glasgow Report.”

A spokesperson for Church House said: “We understand that a number of victims and survivors have been engaging with Kevin Crompton about reviews of cases although it would not be appropriate for us to give more details.”

Published in January, the Glasgow Report, published by the psychologist David Glasgow, suggested that the manner in which the ISB was disbanded “had serious and adverse consequences” for those who had been awaiting reviews (News, 19 January).

One of the members of the group of survivors, Jane Chevous, says that she had requested to speak at the upcoming meeting of the Synod, to explain the group’s concerns about the review process, but was told that this would not be possible, as there would not be time for the protocol on survivor engagement to be followed.

Speaking on Tuesday, she said that the situation with the reviews was a “stalemate”, and that concerns about data sharing and operational independence had been raised with the Archbishops’ Council but had not been fully addressed.

It was “shocking and indefensible”, she said, that her own review, which had been started under the aegis of the ISB before it was disbanded, was “further back” than it was in June last year (News, 21 June 2023).

Ms Chevous made clear that the concerns were not about Mr Crompton’s professionalism, but related to questions about who would be the designated data controller for reviews, and whether he would have a remit to ensure that the recommendations of any report were followed up.

It is understood that conversations on these questions are continuing, and involve survivors as well as Mr Crompton.

The Synod paper was co-authored by the lead bishop for safeguarding, the Bishop of Stepney, Dr Joanne Grenfell, and Dr Jamie Harrison, who chairs the House of Laity and who is a member of the Archbishops’ Council.

Mr Crompton was approached for comment for this article.

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