The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) has rejected an independent review’s recommendation to centralise safeguarding nationally and strip diocesan bishops of oversight of diocesan safeguarding advisers.
The suggestion that safeguarding be made a solely national responsibility came from a new report by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which has recently audited each dioceses’s safeguarding procedures.
Its report, published on Thursday, is broadly positive. Its diocesan audits concluded that there had been a “major improvement in the safeguarding resources, national policies and training courses” since 2015, which was clearly trickling down to the dioceses.
But the report also describes how the work of diocesan safeguarding advisers (DSAs) is managed by diocesan bishops and their staff “without any requirement to have safeguarding knowledge and expertise”.
This lack of a “command and control structure” from the national Church means that inconsistencies in the way parishes and dioceses deal with child abuse are inevitable, the SCIE concludes.
But the NSSG has decided against employing diocesan safeguarding advisers nationally. A senior C of E official said that cultural change was the priority, and, therefore, each bishop had to maintain control over diocesan safeguarding and remain personally invested in the work.