Bishop’s response to BBC documentary on Peter Ball
15th January 2020
Following the broadcast of the BBC documentary about Peter Ball this week, I share the shame expressed by many bishops that the actions of Peter Ball could have gone undetected, unreported and even have been covered up.
My greatest shame and pain are for anyone who has suffered abuse within the church. Perhaps even greater is my concern is for anyone who has suffered abuse, but who has not yet found themselves able to report it or who feels they have not been listened to. Those who survive abuse are always in our prayers.
My first response is to remind anyone affected by watching the programme, or indeed anyone with a safeguarding issue they wish to raise about church, that they can contact:
Jez Hirst, Martyn Hedley or Mandy Davies, our Diocesan Safeguarding Team, at 01727 818107, mobile: 07867 350886 or 07391 010033 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or the National Safeguarding Team: Emily.email@example.com
or for anyone who would rather speak to an external person: NSPCC:0808 800 5000 firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who wish to see it, the response of Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Lead can be read below. I share his sentiments.
We place the highest priority on safeguarding in the Diocese of St Albans. Along with the statutory agencies, we strive to meet the expectations of today’s best practice, drawing on experience across society which I believe would have prevented what happened with Peter Ball from occurring today.
Our safeguarding is overseen by an independently chaired Safeguarding Panel with input from external statutory agencies. I welcome that because it means that our actions over safeguarding are open and transparent.
If you are interested, you can read an independent audit of our safeguarding conducted in the diocese at the end of 2017. It noted that a firm line is taken when difficult decisions are to be made, that there is a “positive culture around safeguarding,” and that “the Diocese is not defensive about its practice.” The audit also observed: “The Bishop and senior staff team are clearly very committed to safeguarding.”
All of its recommendations, made so we could improve our practice further, have been implemented. https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/St-Albans-report-final.pdf
I am very conscious that without getting this right, our worship of God is diminished and that is our primary purpose: to draw people across our communities into the abundant life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
+Alan St Albans
Statement from Bishop Peter Hancock, Church of England lead safeguarding bishop:
“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.
“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.
“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.
“I know from my meetings with victims and survivors that the effects of abuse are lifelong, and we must never forget this. We recognise that there are survivors who have never spoken out and who may still want to come forward; we would urge them to do so.
“There is much that is being written and said about accountability and the culture of deference in the Church and it is clear that change has been too slow. We are committed to making these changes and ensuring that the Church is a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
“I once again offer all survivors a wholehearted apology and applaud their bravery in coming forward which continues to hold us to account.
“Anyone affected should please contact Emily.email@example.com at the National Safeguarding Team.”