Today, Thursday 2nd September, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published the report from its investigation into child protection in religious organisations and settings, of which Thirtyone:eight was one of the core participants. A copy of the report can be accessed here.
The report of the investigation, which obtained evidence from 38 religious organisations with a presence in England and Wales, details the key findings from the investigation and includes 35 conclusions and two recommendations.
The investigation found that “the current oversight of child protection within religious organisations and settings is one of patch work influence” and that there “was clear evidence that some standard-setting and oversight is required” although what this may look like and how this might be legislated for will be looked at within the Final Report of the Inquiry.
Speaking following the publication of the report Justin Humphreys, joint Chief Executive at Thirtyone:eight said:
“At Thirtyone:eight we welcome the publication of this important report by the Inquiry and are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to participate in the investigation as core participants and to share our learning and knowledge from working with faith organisations for over 40 years.
We have been encouraged that the investigation has found much evidence of good safeguarding practice among faith groups and of the acknowledgement it gives to the impact religious organisations are having in communities through the provision of services particularly for children and young people. It was also good to have the important work by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Safeguarding in Faith Settings, for which Thirtyone:eight provided the secretariat, recognised within the report.
Considering the complexity and breadth of task, we believe the report has done a good job in capturing most of the challenges faith and religious organisations face in implementing safeguarding within the context and settings of their work.
The report clearly shows that many churches in this country have made significant progress to embedding child protection practices – including policy, safer recruitment, training, audit and evaluation - where these have perhaps not been evident across the broader religious and faith community. However, this should not leave us with any sense of complacency, there is still much more to be done.
A great strength of the report is the voice it gives to victims and survivors of abuse. We should ensure that we all give careful consideration to the insight that these brave individuals have shared, especially around the many barriers to reporting abuse which have been identified in the report.
Of particular note is the focus the report gives to the role of religious and faith leaders in communicating and reinforcing good understandings of safeguarding, as well as the need for guidance that is specifically relevant to faith and religious groups.
We are pleased that the issues we have raised around regulated activity, the challenges of safer recruitment and of mandatory reporting have been heard, and that there appears to be a general consensus that faith and religious organisations should not be left to manage compliance for their own practice.
We await the final report of the Inquiry with anticipation, where we hope to see some clear recommendations being made around topics such as mandatory reporting, vetting and barring, regulation, development of primary legislation and oversight.”
Religious organisations are being asked to publish a response to the report along with a timetable for implementation of the recommendations within six months of publication.
Justin continues “At Thirtyone:eight we are committed to continuing our support for organisations in implementing safeguarding and specifically the areas highlighted by this report, and of working together with key stakeholders and governments. We shall be producing further guidance and support for organisations based on the learning from the report in the coming months.”