IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) was set up in 2015 because of serious concerns that some organisations in England and Wales had failed and were continuing to fail to protect children. Being independent means the Inquiry is not part of government and being statutory means, it has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence. A phone line has been set up for people affected by the IICSA Inquiry: 020 7898 1273.
How does the Church fit in?
The ‘Anglican Church’ in England and Wales is one of the 13 areas being investigated. The Inquiry’s remit is to assess the appropriateness of its safeguarding and child protection policies and practice.
IICSA welcomed the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Inquiry to investigate, as a matter of priority, the sexual abuse of children within the Church. The NST, worked closely with dioceses, cathedrals and religious communities, responded in a constructive and transparent way to IICSA’s request for information and statements and the Inquiry acknowledged our cooperative approach. This amounted to providing thousands of documents.
The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England was a core participant in the Inquiry. There were other core participants including survivors who have been abused by clergy and other church officers. The National Safeguarding Team, (NST) lead, on behalf of the Church, responded to IICSA’s requests for information and witness statements. There have been five preliminary hearings for the Church’s investigation; March and July 2016, October 2017, January and June 2018. These laid out the approach, lines of inquiry and final details for the hearings in March and July 2019.
What did the Inquiry look at?
IICSA considered the experience of Chichester Diocese, where there have been several allegations of sexual abuse, and numerous investigations and reviews. This hearing was held over a three-week period.
In July 2019 IICSA considered the case of Bishop Peter Ball. This case was chosen, as Dame Moira Gibb had been asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to carry out an independent review into Peter Ball after his conviction in 2015 for sexually abusing young men and boys. Her findings were considered as part of the Inquiry. The focus was not on what happened in this case but why, and whether it could happen again.
Peter Ball BBC Document | Weblink
An overall hearing into the Church and safeguarding was also held. IICSA has released an interim report into its work so far, in which five recommendations were made. The recommendations were brought to the General Synod and agreed in February 2020.
Synod Agreement | PDF
IICSA, published its overarching investigation report into the Church of England on Tuesday 6 October. Churches are encouraged to read this open letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the lead safeguarding bishop and the national director of safeguarding. Also please visit Bishop Martin's letter here. On 25 November 2020, General Synod voted unanimously to fully accept the final investigation report into the Anglican Church.
Will the Inquiry affect my church?
On a day-to-day basis safeguarding within our churches will continue to follow the policy and guidance approved by the House of Bishops so that our churches, services and activities are as safe places as possible. There will quite rightly be scrutiny and coverage of where we got it wrong and lessons we can learn and there are always improvements to be made. We will continue to apologise to any survivor of church-related abuse.
The Church of England Safeguarding overviews are available to download here:
If you are concerned that someone you know is at risk of, or is being abused, or presents a risk to others, please seek advice from your Parish or Benefice Safeguarding Officer or Diocesan Safeguarding Manager Karen Galloway. In an emergency, report the matter to the local authority social care services or to the police without delay.
Report a safeguarding concern | Webilink
If you have general questions about the IICSA process and your parish that have not been answered here, please email: email@example.com
Updated October 2020