New report says Church of England “failed victims”

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benches in a church

A report has concluded the Church of England created a culture where abusers “could hide”.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA)’s report says that the Church had consistently failed to respond to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The report says that the culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide. It alleges that perpetrators were often treated more supportively than victims.

A number of cases relating to both convicted perpetrators and alleged perpetrators were examined. It was found that responses to disclosures of sexual abuse did not demonstrate the necessary level of urgency, nor an appreciation of the seriousness of allegations. Many allegations were not reported to external authorities. The report also found that many who reported sexual abuse were ignored or actively disbelieved by the Church.

Convictions of child sexual abuse by people who were clergy or in positions of trust associated with the Church of England date back to the 1940s. There have been 390 convicted offenders between 1940 – 2018.

The report identified that improvements are required, particularly in the area of record-keeping, which the Inquiry’s sampling found to be almost non-existent and of little use in trying to understand past safeguarding issues. Other recommendations made by the report included improving how the Church responds to safeguarding complaints; taking safeguarding issues away from diocesan bishops and giving them to safeguarding officers; and introducing polices for funding and support for victims.

Gary Walker, a specialist in child abuse claims, says “this report is extremely concerning and demonstrates both the scale of abuse within the Church of England and how survivors are treated once they take the brave step to come forward and talk about their experiences.  I have spoken to many survivors who feel like their concerns have been swept under the carpet and they were not listened to.  I hope that the Church of England take on board the report’s recommendation and recognise that there is still work to be done to minimise risk of abuse and to make sure that survivors should be treated with dignity and respect”.

If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse similar to that discussed in this article, you can contact us for specialist advice.