Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Carlile Report analysis - 12

The next section is titled "Diocesan and other activity" and contains paragraphs 66-68.
66. There are arrangements in place for child protection arrangements to be scrutinised and monitored, on a voluntary basis on both sides, by the Archdiocese of Westminster. The Archdiocese has its own system in place, and I had the advantage of meeting the experienced person currently fulfilling this function.
In the whole of this business, the diocesan safeguarding adviser Peter Turner is the only person associated with the church who in my view emerges with any credit. He advised the Abbot back in 2004 that Pearce should be considered a risk to children and should placed under restrictions. He tried to arrange a meeting last year between me and the Abbot to try and get my concerns addressed, but which the Abbot refused to attend. He's actually tried to do something. Unfortunately, Ealing Abbey's status as an independent Benedictine monastery has meant that the Abbot could and did ignore his advice, and there was nothing that he could do about that.

67. Whilst I favour this additional strand of child protection, and the interest of the Church given past events, in my view this should be considered as a desirable addition to the protection strategy rather than in any way substituting for the scrutiny of the statutory and local authority bodies. The same applies to any formal Visitation ordered by the Church, in which it is essential that there should be no conflicts of interest arising from past contact with St Benedict’s by any Visitor.
The first part of this is entirely sensible. The more checks and balances there are, the less chance there is of a problem spreading unhindered until it becomes a catastrophe on the scale of St Benedict's. Some degree of effective diocesan oversight of the safeguarding arrangements at St. Benedict's and all catholic schools would be a good idea.

There is a very simple and effective mechanism by which this could be done. All faith schools are required by law to undergo what are known as "Section 48" inspections to ensure that religious education and the overall ethos of the school are in accordance with the sponsoring religion. For catholic schools within the diocese, these inspections are carried out by a team of inspectors appointed by the diocese. It would be a straightforward matter for the diocese to establish a policy that effective implementation of good safeguarding procedures shall be considered to be part of the ethos of the church, and accordingly include a review of safeguarding in the Section 48 inspections, and have its inspectors trained accordingly.

If there is some legal difficulty with this in terms of this being considered properly within the scope of a Section 48 inspection, then the safeguarding aspects can be made the subject of an entirely separate and unofficial inspection which happens to be carried out at during the same visit and by the same inspector, but with a separate report being provided. It being a church inspection rather than a statutory inspection, it would be perfectly appropriate for the standards applied to be higher than the statutory minimum.

I also happen to agree with the last part of Carlile's paragraph, about the need for those conducting the Apostolic Visitation to have no prior connection with the abbey. But is a bit rich coming from Carlile, given the prior connections of Tony Nelson who appointed him to this task.

68. The Department for Education, to Ministerial level, has been following carefully the progress of the ISI inspections. I have reviewed the correspondence. The Minister of State for Schools in July 2010 sought reassurance that all the recommendations the ISI had made would be implemented promptly. This has been done. The Minister was particularly concerned about the arrangements whereby monks, after conviction or being placed on List 99, had continued to live at the Abbey, even under restrictions imposed by the Abbey in consultation with the Archdiocese of Westminster. These arrangements were described as ‘ineffective’ (and the practice no longer continues).
But the practice did continue and still does continue! At the time of writing, Father Gregory Chillman is still listed as a monk resident at Ealing Abbey.

No comments:

Post a Comment