16 October 2020 | Podcasts | Article by Alan Collins

HJ Talks About Abuse: Church of England Compensation Scheme

In this episode Alan Collins and Danielle Vincent explore the Church of England’s proposed compensation scheme for victims of abuse.

An interim pilot scheme has been drawn up to initially compensate 10 survivors. A statement read ‘The pilot scheme is designed to enable the Church to respond in particular to those survivors’ cases which are already known to the Church, where the survivor is known to be in seriously distressed circumstances, and the Church has a heightened responsibility because of the way the survivor was responded to following disclosure”.

Compensation funds have now been approved by the Church’s Cabinet, the Archbishops Council.  Initial estimates suggest compensation will amount to potentially £200 million.

The scheme will look to compensate these 10 individuals as a ‘pilot’ before finalising the full Redress Scheme which will then be opened up to the masses. At this time, it is unclear what the times scale will be for this.

The Church of England compensation scheme follows the ongoing investigation and criticism by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The IICSA has held several hearings into abuse in the Church or England and the Catholic Church The finalised report is still awaited, such hearing being delayed by the current covid pandemic. The inquiry’s report is expected to heavily criticise the Church of England for its failure to act on disclosures of abuse and to treat survivors with compassion by protecting clergy at the expense of children and vulnerable adults

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, and Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales, have previously both given evidence in person to the IISCA, apologising for abuse and its cover-up. The Archbishop of Canterbury, told it that

 he was ashamed of the church and abusers should go to prison. ‘These decisions feel like a turning point. We continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed

A separate 2017 investigation by the IICSA into abuse by former bishop Peter Ball found the church failed to protect boys and then concealed evidence of Ball’s crime and prioritised its own reputation above the needs of victims. Ball was jailed for 32 months in 2015 for sexual abuse against boys carried out over three decades.  Ball  was allowed to remain in the Church after accepting a reprimand for his behaviour in 1993.

The redress scheme has been publicised as the turning point in the Church’s treatment of survivors abused by bishops, clergy, churchwardens, employees, volunteers, congregation members and people with church connections. The Archbishops’ Council also committed the Church of England to greater independence and transparency in the way it deals with abuse. The scheme has been a long time coming for many victims whose complaints were never investigated or dismissed.

Reporting of both current and historical abuse in the dioceses have risen experientially based on the initial data disclosed in the last few years. In 2017 there were 3,287 complaints, compared with 2,195 in 2015. It is understood the increase is from vulnerable category victims.

It is predicted thousands of individuals will come forward to apply to the scheme who may not have already disclosed their experiences The criteria an applicant will be required to meet to be eligible to apply to the scheme and the finer details of the compensation awards tariff available has yet to be disclosed at this time. It is thought the scheme with cover sexual abuse, physical and psychological abuse.

The history behind the scheme is outlined by the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, the Rt. Rev’d Jonathan Gibbs in a BBC interview on 4th October 2o20: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000n4vy

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) runs The Truth Project offering victims and survivors of child sexual abuse the chance to share their experiences and be heard with respect. 5000 people have spoken out. The link to this is here  https://www.truthproject.org.uk/help-and-support#233150507

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact us on aboutabuse@hjtalks.co.uk.  


Author bio

Alan Collins is one of the best known solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals. Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

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