Future Safeguarding Programme for the Church to be led by Professor Alexis Jay

First published 25th July 2023

The Diocese of Bristol welcomes the recently launched programme of work, led by Professor Alexis Jay, to find a model for fully independent safeguarding within the Church of England.

Professor Alexis Jay OBE, former chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), has been appointed on behalf of The Archbishops’ Council by The Archbishops of Canterbury and York to begin the Future Safeguarding Programme with immediate effect. This will operate remotely and independently of the church and will be supported by former secretary to the IICSA Inquiry, John O’Brien CBE.

The terms for the Future Safeguarding Programme for the Church of England are as follows:

  • to provide options and recommendations for forming an independent safeguarding and scrutiny body for the Church of England
  • make any recommendations for how further independence of safeguarding might be achieved
  • make any other recommendations that are necessary or appropriate.

By the end of the year, Professor Jay is expected to publish a report which will be presented to The Archbishops’ Council, after which the Council along with the House of Bishops and General Synod will be invited to consider the report’s recommendations and any decision-making being done by the appropriate bodies.

Professor Jay is then expected to be consulted further on how to take these recommendations forward and establish the independent body for scrutiny for the Church of England.

A key recommendation by Professor Jay’s report of the IICSA into the Anglican Church in England and Wales in 2020 was the principle of independent safeguarding.

Professor Jay said: “When I was Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I heard at first hand of the devasting effects of abuse within the Church of England, and of the failures, often repeated, to prevent it from occurring. I was very clear in my recommendations that safeguarding in the Church would require genuine independence to be fully effective. I have been just as clear with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Archbishop of York that this programme of work must be entirely independent of the Church too for it to succeed.

“I would like to assure everyone that I mean what I say. My team will not include anyone employed by the church, nor will we hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. I have explained that if I detect any attempt to interfere with or to hinder my work, I will withdraw from this programme of work immediately.

“I also wish to make clear that my work will be fair, impartial, objective, and rigorous. One of my first tasks will be to hear the views of victims and survivors of church abuse, and to listen to those involved in safeguarding at all levels of the church across England. I look forward to hearing their experiences and using this process to inform the recommendations I will make to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

“It is imperative that the Church of England makes rapid and demonstrable progress on introducing genuinely independent safeguarding. Victims and survivors of abuse, people who work or volunteer within the church, and children and adults who come into contact with the church in many different ways deserve nothing less.”

Lucy Duckworth, ending sexual abuse campaigner, said: "For the thousands of adult church abuse survivors this is the last chance for the Church of England to get this right. There have been so many church led inquiries, resulting in empty promises from the Church's senior leadership but today I am grateful that with their track record of independence and rigour, both Professor Alexis Jay and John O Brien have agreed to take on this programme of work, which if truly implemented by the church will protect the many children still at risk from clerical based abuse today."


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