Independent safeguarding audit

The Church of England has commissioned an independent audit of all Church of England cathedrals, reviewing their arrangements for keeping people safe from harm and abuse.   In today’s modern world there is a risk that the occurrence of an audit can be mistakenly taken up on social media or the press as indicating the imminent revelation of an abuse scandal in a particular cathedral.  This is not the case, however, and we want to provide clarity and reassurance that every cathedral in England is engaging with the audit process.  The audit’s purpose is to bring in ‘fresh eyes’ to proactively enable learning and improvement in how cathedrals individually, and collectively, keep people safe; it is not a response to something bad having happened here or elsewhere.

‘Cathedrals nationally are taking part in this exercise.’

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has been appointed to conduct the safeguarding audits.  Two SCIE auditors visited Manchester Cathedral from 30 November to 2 December 2021. The Chapter lead person for the audit was Canon David Holgate.  

As well as looking at our safeguarding files, our policies and training, they also met with a number of our staff, key members of Chapter and the Dean.  In addition, the auditors sought to hear from external agencies and from those directly involved in the heart of cathedral life, to hear about their understanding of keeping people safe in our cathedral, and to get their unique perspective on how we operate. 

The auditors were interested in asking questions such as:

  • The general culture of the cathedral: are people treated with respect and care. Are there clear messages that bullying, mistreatment, abuse, and misuse of power are not tolerated?
  • How the cathedral makes it known that they are there to help anyone who is being mistreated or abused in anyway, or has been in the past.
  • People’s awareness of the measures in place to make sure that people who pose a risk aren’t in roles they shouldn’t be.
  • Do people know who to go to if they had concerns that someone was being hurt in some way, or that someone behaving inappropriately?
  • Do people know what the process would be? How confident do they feel that their concerns would be, or have been, taken seriously?
  • Do people see the cathedral taking on a role in helping people who, due to personal circumstances or crises, need help to keep safe?
  • What helps and what gets in the way of the cathedral supporting people’s welfare, preventing abuse and harm, and responding promptly and efficiently to concerns?

Individuals who responded to the surveys are not identified by name in the report.  A data processing agreement was in place between Manchester Cahedral and SCIE; there is also an audit privacy notice available, which outlines how data will be handled.  If you require any further information about this then please contact the Cathedral Administrator.

The final report on our cathedral was received by Chapter at its meeting of 28 February 2022 as is available here to download.  An action plan has been produced in light of recommendations made in the report, which was approved by Chapter at its meeting of 20 June 2022.  Timescales will be agreed as soon as the Cathedral's new Chief Operating Officer and Sageguarding Advisor have been recruited.