Reviewer Deplores Delay to “Well Overdue” Report
Jane Humphreys, who conducted the safeguarding review into the actions of the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, has criticised the length of time it took to complete.
Her report lists reasons for the delay: that the Church had previously appointed a reviewer who was chair of a diocesan safeguarding panel at the time, thus raising questions of independence; that the subsequent reviewer refused the terms of reference set out by the survivor; the Covid-19 crisis; further objections from the survivor; and query from the Independent Safeguarding Board as to whether this review should continue at all.
The Revd Matt Ineson, who raised the complaint about Devamanikkam, decided not to participate in the process due to his concerns about the review’s independence from the Church of England. The review was commissioned by the Church’s National Safeguarding Team
His solicitor had clarified his concerns in a statement: “The victim who complained to the police about being raped by Trevor Devamanikkam wishes to disassociate himself on the grounds the Church refused to abide by his terms of participation which was that the investigator and writer of the report would be appointed completely independently. The Church refused to his request.”
Following the publication of the review, the Revd Matt Ineson told The Times, “The church needs to acknowledge independent oversight is going to be painful and commit to it. Until then it continues to cover up the whole truth in cases like mine.”
Ms Humphreys, a Senior Social Care Consultant and former Director of Children’s and Adult Services, said, ““This Learning Lessons review has taken far too long to complete and is well overdue. Whilst I respect the wishes of the survivor not to be involved in the review, I hope the findings and recommendations in my report give him some assurances that the abuse he suffered and the lack of support he received from the Church have now finally been recognised. It takes a lot of courage to disclose abuse and to not receive the right support and guidance at the time he disclosed his abuse is inexcusable, I hope he is now provided with the right support to rebuild his life. Sadly, this report would not have been required had the policies and guidance in place at the time the survivor disclosed his abuse been followed.
“They were not, even though the disclosures were made only a decade ago at a time where the profile of safeguarding and protecting children and vulnerable adults was well publicised. This report also recognises that the late Trevor Devamanikkam had a significant history of mental illness and had been involved with a number of statutory agencies when he was subject to the police investigation. I have asked the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adult Board to consider whether a safeguarding adult review should be undertaken to consider whether agencies involved with him, and the church could have worked together more effectively at that time.”.
Bishop Joanne Grenfell of Stepney, the lead safeguarding bishop, welcomed the report and thanked Ms Humphreys for her work. She said the Church welcomes her recommendations, “including her comments about the length of time it took to commence and complete. Our response was not good enough and a new policy going to Synod this July about safeguarding practice reviews should help improve the process.
“We respect the survivor’s decision not to take part. As the reviewer states, the survivor’s invaluable evidence provided to IICSA, along with other documents, helped her reach her conclusions. His voice remains important, as do the voices of all survivors, which must continue to inform our work.
“We need to ensure that harm is prevented, wrongdoing reported, and victims and survivors heard. As well as better policies and practice, this will mean every member of the Church contributing to a healthier culture with vigilance, competence, and care.”
The current Archbishop of York, Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, echoed this response and stated, “I have made personal contact with the survivor. While safeguarding in the Church has improved enormously in the past 10 years, we can never be complacent and today’s report is a reminder that we still need to learn from how to respond well to those who come forward always being mindful that the effects of abuse are lifelong.”