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Church of England accepts it has 'more work to do' on safeguarding as IICSA announces date of final report

by Donna Birrell

The Church of England's lead Bishop for Safeguarding says the church still has "much more work to do to get safeguarding right."

Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs was speaking after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) announced it will publish its final report on 20 October.

The Inquiry was set up in 2015 following the Jimmy Savile scandal, to investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions were properly protecting children from sexual abuse in England and Wales and to make recommendations for change.

The investigation into the Anglican Church is one of 15 carried out by IICSA. Three hearings were held into the Church of England - the first, in March 2018 looked at the Diocese of Chichester, the second, in July 2018 at the case of the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball and the third, in July 2019 was a wider hearing into the Church of England and the Church in Wales. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev Justin Welby, who asked for the Church of England to be part of the Inquiry, was among prominent figures to give evidence under oath.

So far, two reports have been published into the Church of England, along with a number of recommendations. 

One of the reports, in October 2020, found the Church had failed to protect children from sexual abuse, and created a culture where abusers "could hide". It said the Church's failure to respond consistently to abuse victims added to their trauma. It added that alleged perpetrators were often given more support than victims.

The Church said it felt "shame" over the failings and pledged to implement the recommendations which included setting up a full redress scheme for survivors of abuse in a church context. 

Following news that the final report will be published in October, Bishop Gibbs said in a statement on the Church of England's website : 

 "We note the announcement today from IICSA on the upcoming final report.
"As we said in our final submission to IICSA, despite the important steps that it has taken, the Church still has much more work to do to get safeguarding right.
"While there has been improvement in recent years, we wholeheartedly regret that in some areas, especially support for victims and survivors, progress has been too slow.
"We have learnt much from our three IICSA hearings and the subsequent reports and we will respond further following the publication in October of this final report and its recommendations." 
Over the last seven years, IICSA has processed almost 2,500,000 pages of evidence, published 19 investigation reports - including into the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales - and made 87 recommendations for change. The final report will be published on the Inquiry website.


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