Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Although our policies generally recommend that we leave the full investigation of reported abuse to statutory authorities, we cannot help but make our initial inquiries to determine what we should do next. It’s the failure of not maintaining respectful uncertainty and turning away from what we see or sweeping a matter under the carpet that is being highlighted here by the IICSA. It’s the failure to ask the right questions and shine a light on a dark place, or acquiescing to a pattern of behaviour that we know is wrong that will significantly damage our organisational reputation or that of an individual. For a person identified publically as not having given due consideration to a matter brought to their attention, and then not taking action, the impact can be personally devastating.
So a robust approach to professional curiosity, addressing promptly any concerns that come to our attention, and in a manner consistent with our policies, will demonstrate that we can make defensible decisions in the eyes of those who scrutinise our practice, be they the public, the IICSA or any other judicial or regulatory body. However this is not about striking out on our own to solve a puzzle but it’s more about sharing concerns with your local safeguarding officer in the first instance and then checking things out with the DSO as a good next step. Survivors tell us that if the Church had investigated their concerns when they first told their stories then in some cases many more children, young people or vulnerable adults would have been kept safe from harm.
Initial investigation, getting the story, to find out what’s been happening is an essential part of our safeguarding work. Writing it down and then passing on to Church Safeguarding staff, however trivial it may sound, is a key requirement in fulfilling our policy. It’s also about demonstrating our duty of care towards the individuals involved, and equally showing our Christian witness to those who are in need.