IICSA update on recommendations (continued)

To recap on yesterday’s blog, the monitoring of responses to recommendations made by IICSA is a formal process and IICSA expect institutions to set out how they plan to respond to the recommendations made within six months of the recommendations being published. Yesterday we covered responses from

  • Nottinghamshire Councils
  • Accountability and Reparations
  • Children Outside the UK Phase 2

Today’s blog will look at the responses from:

  • Internet
  • Westminster
  • Anglican Church

Internet

Please see below details of the recommendations made by IICSA in this investigation that have been progressed:-

  • The government should require industry to pre-screen material before it is uploaded on the internet to prevent access to known indecent images of children – On the 10 November, 2020, the UK Government launched the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and it is the UK Government’s expectation as a result of this interim code all companies will prevent access to known child sexual abuse material which includes pre-screening.
  • Prevent access to indecent images globally – The UK Government has committed to work collaboratively with WeProtect Global Alliance (WPGA) to continue to make combatting indecent images of children, grooming and live streaming a top priority.
  • Introduce age verification legislation – The UK Government is working closely with stakeholders to embed age assurance methods including age verification in the online harms regulatory framework which will first be published in guidance ahead of legislation being introduced.
  • The government to publish, without further delay an interim code of practice in respect of child sexual abuse and exploitation as proposed by the Online Harms White Paper published in April, 2019) – This interim code of practice was published on the 15 December, 2020.

Westminster

Please see below details of the recommendations made by IICSA in this investigation that have been progressed:-

  • Extension of forfeiture criteria for honours to include convictions, cautions and cases decided by trial of the facts involving offences of child sexual abuse – The honours system is independent of the UK Government and any changes to the policy on forfeiture will be made on the advices of the Grants of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) who have agreed to an in-depth review of the forfeiture policy in this area in line with IICSA’s recommendation.
  • Re-examination of posthumous forfeiture policy for honours – Again this is not a matter for the UK Government but the HD Committee who have also agreed to an in-depth review of the forfeiture policy in this area in line with IICSA’s recommendation.
  • The UK Government, political parties and Westminster must have whistleblowing policies and procedure in government departments and political parties covering child sexual abuse and exploitation and every employee must be made aware of the same – In September, 2008 the UK Government confirmed that all government departments have whistleblowing policies in place. In addition the Liberal Democrats, the Co-operative Party, the Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party have all taken measures to comply with this recommendation to include amending and updating safeguarding policies, codes of conduct for working with children and vulnerable adults and whistleblowing policies.
  • The Cabinet to ensure that each government department reviews it child safeguarding policies and publish procedures to accompany those policies – The UK Government launched a model safeguarding policy and “Health Check” process in January, 2020 which has been made available to all departments and a review of the use of that policy and process was to be undertaken in later 2020. The outcome of this review does not appear to have been reported on to date.
  • All political parties registered with the Electoral Commission in England and Wales must ensure that they have safeguarding policies and procedures, compliance with this measure to be overseen by the Electoral Commission – The Electoral Commission fully supports the recommendation but says that it would require a change in the law in order to enable them monitor compliance. The Electoral Commission also makes the point that it does not have experience and/or expertise in child protection matters and that this recommendation should be re-directed to other organisations. The Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party have all confirmed that they have the appropriate policies and procedures in place.

Anglican Church

Please see below details of the recommendations made by IICSA in this investigation that have been progressed:-

  • Introducing diocesan safeguarding officers in the Church of England to replace the diocesan safeguarding adviser – The Church of England fully accepts and supports this recommendation and on the 15th December, 2020 the Church of England unanimously approved the putting in place of an interim oversight model of the National Safeguarding Team before the February Synod, 2021. This new model will include the creation of a new safeguarding board with a majority of independent members and this new board will then help to determine the approach to implementing full independent oversight as recommended by IICSA.
  • The Church of England should make changes and improvements to the ways it responds to safeguarding complaints – The Church of England endorses the proposals to replace the Clergy Discipline Measures (CDM) 2003 with a new set of provisions and on the 4th December, 2020 it published a report on its review of the working of the CDM. The working group proposes that new legislation is needed to replace the CDM and in the interim improvements will be made by the introduction of several measures to include regular training for key participants in the CDM process.
  • Following operational safeguarding advice in the Church in Wales – No progress update as of 25th February, 2021.
  • Record-keeping in the Church in Wales relating to safeguarding, complaints and whistleblowing – No progress update as of 25th February, 2021.
  • Information-sharing between the Church of England and the Church in Wales about clergy who move between the two Churches – Progress is being made in this regard with both churches committed to having the same in place as soon as is practicable. The Church of England is also seeking to have such information sharing agreements developed and used by dioceses on a local level with statutory partners such as local authorities.
  • Information-sharing between the Church of England, Church in Wales and statutory partners – same as above.
  • The Church of England and the Church of Wales to introduce a Church-wide policy on the funding and provision of support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse concerning clergy or Church officers with some connection to the Church, the policy to take account of the view of  victims and survivors and to be mandatory in terms of its implementation across all dioceses – As of the 25th November, 2020 the Church of England has stated that it will continue with the development of a redress scheme and with the interim pilot scheme and has already made a number of emergency payments to those in urgent need.
  • External auditing of safeguarding policies and procedures to be introduced in the Church in Wales and continued in the Church of England – No specific action has been taken by the Church of Wales to date it appears but the Church of England it committed to the programme of five yearly independent audits which began in the diocese in 2015, the next phase of which was due to start in 2021.

We will update you in due course once IICSA publishes any further progress made in terms of responses received to recommendations made by it.


Written by Sharon Moohan at BLM sharon.moohan@blmlaw.com

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