Comments: Update on IICSA hearings - 4 March

I'm no expert on any of this, and haven't followed all the national debates. But my initial uninformed impression based on skimming through the new Practice Guidance document is:

1. There is no obligation to report all allegations to the police/social services. An awful lot seems to rest on the Core Group, who are the ones who undertake an initial investigation, and then decide whether to report an allegation to the police, or whether it is (in their view) unfounded/unsubstantiated. And it appears they could be quite unqualified to make this decision. But (I would argue) surely all allegations should be reported to the police/social services by the first person who hears them as a matter of course (eg. by a local vicar, parishioner or churchwarden) rather than simply referred up the chain? Mandate Now do seem to have a point here.

2. Whilst the respondent is provided a 'link' person to go with them to a meeting with the bishop when an allegation has been made against them, the guidance explicitly says this person cannot be a legal representative. But I'd have thought a respondent would be extremely unwise to attend a meeting under these conditions without legal representation.

In short, too much power in a potentially unqualified Core Team (and lack of involvement of safeguarding professionals, police, and lawyers) does not look like a good system to deliver justice for either complainant or respondent.

Posted by Revd Dr Charles Clapham at Sunday, 4 March 2018 at 8:17pm GMT
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