The Charity Commission is engaging with trustees at Archbishops’ Council after it reported a serious incident to the regulator.
Archbishops’ Council recently decided to sack its independent safeguarding board, which prompted the National Secular Society (NSS) to write to the Commission, asking it to investigate safeguarding practices in the Church of England.
The Commission said the charity reported itself to the regulator and it is considering its response.
A spokesperson for the regulator said: “In line with our guidance, the Archbishops’ Council has reported a serious incident in relation to these matters. We will engage with the trustees to determine whether a regulatory response is required”.
A Church of England spokesperson said: “The Archbishops’ Council has already submitted a serious incident report to the Charity Commission in relation to the independent safeguarding board, in line with the reporting criteria of the Charity Commission.
“Our safeguarding responsibilities are a governance priority. The Archbishops’ Council is committed to developing fully independent scrutiny of safeguarding within the Church of England, to ensure the Church is a safer place for all.”
NSS urges regulator action
NSS wrote to the chief executive of the Commission, Helen Stephenson, after the Archbishops’ Council sacked the independent body looking at the Church's record on safeguarding last week.
The letter, from NSS chief executive Stephen Evans, urges the Commission to investigate whether the Archbishops’ Council’s decision to sack its independent safeguarding board is in breach of its charitable duties to protect beneficiaries and the wider public from harm.
It reads: “The Archbishops’ Council appears incapable and unwilling to do what is required to protect those under its auspices from harm. We believe the only way forward to protect victims is to set up a safeguarding body entirely free-standing from the Church as a matter of urgency.
“We therefore ask the Charity Commission to intervene to ensure this is achieved speedily and with due regard to victims’ and survivors’ interests.”
NSS’s letter notes recent concerns over the Church’s safeguarding, with former archbishop of York John Sentamu stepping down after allegations he had failed to act on a report of abuse, and allegations of sexual abuse in relation to Soul Survivor.