IICSA Publishes Report Into Sexual Abuse Within Anglican Church

Publication Date14 October 2020
SubjectCriminal Law, Crime
Law FirmLeigh Day
AuthorLeigh Day

The IICSA report, published Tuesday, 6 October, said: "Convictions of sexual abuse of children by people who were clergy or in positions of trust associated with the Church date back to the 1940s. The total number of convicted offenders associated with the Church from the 1940s until 2018 is 390. In 2018, 449 concerns were reported to the Church about recent child sexual abuse, of which more than half related to church officers. Latterly, a significant amount of offending involved the downloading or possession of indecent images of children."

Cases examined by the inquiry demonstrated the Church's failure to take seriously disclosures by or about children or to refer allegations to the statutory authorities, said the report.

It said:

  • The culture of the Church of England "facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide"
  • "Alleged perpetrators were treated more supportively than victims".
  • "The Church's neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable."

Recommendations in the report highlighted by the BBC include:

  • The Church of England should improve how it responds to safeguarding complaints - by, for example, reintroducing a rule to expel any member of the clergy found guilty of child sexual abuse offences
  • Responsibility for safeguarding should be taken out of the hands of diocesan bishops and given to safeguarding officers employed by the central hierarchy of the Church
  • The Church of England and Church in Wales should share information about clergy who move between the two institutions
  • The Church should introduce policies for funding and support of survivors of child sexual abuse whose perpetrators had a connection to the Church.

IICSA chair Prof Alexis Jay, said:

"Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome.

"Within the Church in Wales, there were simply not enough safeguarding officers to carry out the volume of work required of them. Record-keeping was found to be almost non-existent and of little use in trying to understand past safeguarding issues."

The BBC reported that Anglican archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell had promised to "listen, to learn and to act" upon the report's...

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