Response by Simon Taylor (Derby 106) to the Archbishops’ Council’s Consultation on Safeguarding (Annex to GS 1896).
Following the debate of the General Synod in July 2013, I am grateful
for the opportunity to contribute to the consultation initiated in the
Annex to GS 1896.
2. As well as serving as a member of
the General Synod, I am a member of the Safeguarding Committee of Derby
Cathedral as the clergyperson nominated by Chapter to serve on that
Committee. I have a brief for the implementation of the Safeguarding
policies of the Chapter.
3. The consultation asks for views on six issues. I have set out the issues and my responses below:
Amending the CDM to remove the limitation period for a complaint
alleging misconduct of a sexual nature involving a child – and possibly
vulnerable adults as defined in GS Misc 837, so that a complaint may be
made notwithstanding more than 12 months has lapsed since the misconduct
4. “Misconduct of a sexual nature involving a
child” would seem to come into the category of those offences that would
allow the President of a Tribunal to allow a complaint ‘out of time’ in
the interests of justice.
5. Nevertheless, given that
it can take twenty years or longer for victims of sexual abuse to report
that abuse, it would seem right that the discretionary element of this
power should be removed. Child sexual abuse should be excluded from the
requirements that a complaint should be brought within a 12 month
period of the offence being committed. This may have the desirable
effect of enabling abuse to be reported.
6. I would also support an exclusion from the required time period of sexual abuse committed against vulnerable adults.
The definition of ‘Vulnerable Adult’ in Promoting a Safe Church (GS
Misc 837) would provide a good definition on which to base this change
to the Clergy Discipline Measure.
8. This would not cover
all cases of sexual misconduct with adults. However it would be a
great improvement on the current situation. The discretion available to
the President of the Tribunal would remain for additional cases.
Amending the CDM so that the bishop has power to suspend a priest or
deacon whenever a written application seeking to make a complaint out of
time is submitted by a complainant to the President of Tribunals,
providing the bishop forms the view that suspension is necessary pending
the President’s decision.
9. This power would not be necessary in relation to the sexual abuse of children if the above changes are implemented.
In the case of the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults it would remain
necessary as not all cases might be covered by the removal of the time
limitations for the tightly defined category of vulnerable adults (from
Promoting a Safe Church).
11. I would, therefore, support
this extension of the Bishop’s power to suspend to all cases asking for
consideration ‘out of time’ as the fairest means of delivering this.
I would support the proposal for the shape of the extension to the
bishop’s power to suspend as set out in paragraph 19 of the consultation
3. Amending Canon law to enable the bishop to
direct that a priest or deacon must submit to a risk assessment to
determine whether there is a significant risk that the cleric may commit
in the future misconduct of a safeguarding nature; failure to comply
with the direction without reasonable excuse would be misconduct under
13. I am very nervous about this third proposal.
As the consultation document states, “any procedure of this kind would
rightly have to include substantial safeguards for clerics subjected to
it” (paragraph 38).
14. The consultation document sets
out a detailed consideration of how canon law might be amended to
enable this proposal. Yet it offers no detail at all as to what
‘substantial safeguards’ would have to be put in place.
If the Archbishops’ Council is to proceed with this proposal, then the
“narrow test” suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commissaries
to the Diocese of Chichester should be used. That is to say that the
only circumstances in which a risk assessment could be required of a
cleric is when they are “credibly suspected of sexual abuse”.
The extension of this to “relevant conduct” in the consultation
document (paragraph 24) appears to allow an indiscriminate and
disproportionate use of the requirement of a risk assessment.
17. There is also an apparent danger of a risk assessment being used as a ‘fishing trip’ to uncover actionable behaviour.
Should risk assessments be used in the way considered, then care must
be taken that they are performed by reputable bodies and offer a
credible assessment of risk. Reference to appropriate
professional bodies and an independent confirmation of the credibility
of both the assessor and the method of assessment would be needed.
19. Provision to ensure that this is at all times a clear and transparent process would need to be made.
Given the lack of detail in relation to the ‘substantial safeguards’
this proposal would require, I hope that the Archbishops’ Council would
bring more detailed proposals back for consultation before proceeding to
21. It would also be helpful to know what
constitutes good practice in relation to risk assessments and the
relevant legal safeguards in other professions, such as teaching and
social care. When bringing more detailed proposals for further
consultation, it would be very helpful if such information could be
4. Amending canon law to prevent clergy from
robing in church during the time of divine service when they are
prohibited under the CDM from exercising any of the functions of their
Orders and to prevent clergy with the cure of souls from allowing them
so to robe. In addition the Council would be grateful for views on
whether it should be unlawful for suspended clergy to robe during divine
22. Clerical vestment, that is the wearing of clerical robes in divine service, is a part of the public ministry of a cleric.
Part of the meaning of prohibition or suspension is the withdrawal from
public ministry. It seems inconsistent for a cleric to withdraw from
public ministry except during divine service.
24. I therefore support the proposal to amend canon law to prevent prohibited clergy from robing for divine service.
In order to enable this, I support the proposal to amend canon law to
prevent clergy with the cure of souls from knowingly allowing them so to
26. I also think it right that suspended clergy
should not be allowed to robe during diving service as it is part of the
suspension from public ministry. It is no more in tension with the
notice of suspension’s statement (that it does not mean a view has been
formed as to whether the complaint is true or likely to be true) than
withdrawal from any other aspect of public ministry.
hope that the Archbishops’ Council will go further and reconsider the
Commissaries’ proposal that “Those who are suspended or prohibited
should not be permitted to wear any clerical dress on any occasion”
(Interim report, Recommendations to the National Church, p. 46).
The consultation document has misgivings about this, but it seems
entirely consistent with the meaning of prohibition or suspension as to
do with the withdrawal from public ministry. The ‘dog-collar’ is a
public statement of ordination, and hence should be included in the
meaning of prohibition or suspension.
prohibition and suspension are positive actions that have to be enacted
upon a cleric. I can see no reason, therefore, why a retired cleric
should not be able to wear a clerical collar as a member of the
congregation unless they have been positively prohibited or suspended.
In this respect the Commissaries’ recommendations are both clear and
30. There are two minor amendments to the Commissaries’ recommendation in this respect that may be required.
First, it may be helpful to explain that ‘clerical dress’ includes
clerical collars. This does not define ‘clerical dress’, an
impossibility in the Church of England, but it does make it clear that
certain things at least are included in the prohibition.
Second, clergy who are suspended should be permitted to wear a clerical
collar at any hearing relating to the alleged offences for which they
have been suspended. This is a slight amendment to the Commissaries’
proposed prohibition “on any occasion”.
5. Amending Canon
C 8 so that (i) only clergy with a bishop’s licence or permission may
be invited by a priest with the cure of souls to officiate, and (ii)
clergy who have cure of souls shall not allow clergy without a bishop’s
licence to permission to robe or officiate within their own church or
33. Canon C 8 2 (a) provides that “The minister
having the cure of souls of a church or chapel … may allow a minister,
concerning whom they are satisfied either by actual personal knowledge
or by good and sufficient evidence that he is of good life and standing
and otherwise qualified under this Canon, to minister within their
church or chapel for a period of not more than seven days within three
months without reference to the bishop or other Ordinary”.
The Commissaries’ Interim report is concerned that some clergy have
allowed others to officiate in their parishes without a proper license
or permission to officiate (Interim Report, p. 23).
The consultation document is concerned that “there is no definition in
the canon for the meaning of ‘good life and standing’” (paragraph 48).
The approach I think best would be to amend Canon C 8 so that it is
clear on the face of the Canon that a cleric who has been prohibited or
suspended under the Clergy Discipline Measure cannot be allowed to
minister, even in a temporary capacity. This would seem to meet all the
concerns in relation to safeguarding without imposing further restrictions on the minister with the cure of souls.
The concern of the consultation document that “in practice this
provision [Canon C 8 2 (a)] can enable a priest to minister when his
authority to do so has been withdrawn on safeguarding grounds by a
bishop” (paragraph 49) would be met by this introduction of clarity.
Requiring the production of a licence or PTO prior to ministering in a
church or chapel would not prevent the possibility of the production of
such documents by a prohibited or a suspended cleric without reference
to the prohibition or suspension.
39. As a matter of good
practice, ministers with the cure of souls who do allow others to
minister in their church or chapel should be able to justify the ‘actual
personal knowledge’ or the ‘good and sufficient evidence’ on which they
base their decision. The Canon could be amended to include the
requirement for justification.
40. Such an approach would
enable the Canon to be amended so that clergy with the cure of souls
are prohibited to knowingly allow clergy who have been prohibited or
suspended under the CDM to minister in their church or chapel.
Amending the Churchwardens Measure 2001 and the Church Representation
Rules so that: (i) a person who is on a barred list under the SVGA is
disqualified from serving as churchwarden or as a member of a PCC,
district council or synod; (ii) any person convicted of an offence
mentioned in section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 is
disqualified from being a member of the PCC; and (iii) a bishop has
power, pending criminal proceedings, to suspend a church warden or
member of a PCC who is arrested on suspicion of committing an offence
mentioned in schedule 1 to the Children and Young Persons Act.
Given that members of the PCC (including ex officio members) are
responsible for enduring that safeguarding policies are implemented, it
seems appropriate to prevent barred or convicted offenders from serving
on that body (including as an officer who is ex officio on that body).
The consultation document is concerned that “a PCC would not be
entitled to apply under the SVGA to the Disclosure and Barring Service
for in formation as to whether any of its members had been barred”
(Paragraph 57). This is, of course, a challenge to the Church of
England in relation to all Safeguarding checks.
concern, whilst real, is similar to that of the prohibition of those
disqualified from being a charity trustee from standing or being
elected. I know of few parishes that would routinely screen those
standing for election for such disqualification. Yet if the information
comes to light subsequently, they are immediately seen as disqualified
without further action being required. Requirements in relation
to PCC members and Church Wardens being disqualified if they are on a
barred list could function in a similar way.
An Additional Suggestion
In addition to the six proposals made by the consultation document, I
would be grateful if the Council would consider an addition.
My suggestion is that training in safeguarding at an appropriate level
for (i) assistant clergy, (ii) clergy with the cure of souls and (iii)
the senior staff of a Diocese should be made compulsory.
There is provision within Common Tenure for this to happen. My
Statement of Particulars says that “You are required by Regulation 19 to
participate in arrangements approved by the Diocesan Bishop for your
continuing ministerial development”.
47. It should be
possible to either (i) require Diocesan Bishops to require their clergy
to undergo appropriate safeguarding training; or (ii) amend the relevant
legislation to allow the Archbishop or some other body to require
tenured clergy to undergo appropriate training.
48. I am very grateful to the Council for the opportunity to contribute to this consultation.
The Revd Canon Dr Simon Taylor
Member of the General Synod (Derby 106)
Canon Chancellor, Derby Cathedral and member of the Chapter’s Safeguarding Committee
Continuing Ministerial Development Officer (Clergy), the Diocese of Derby
25th September, 2013