Concerns over safeguarding spark review

Experienced Safeguarding consultants have thoroughly reviewed historic safeguarding folders held by Quakers in Britain and have concluded there are no high-risk cases needing further investigation.

child's bright coloured building blocks
Playtime: building safe communities for all. (Photo Susan Holt Simpson Unsplash)

The review was prompted by a whistleblower raising concerns about aspects of safeguarding practice in Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) and in local Quaker meetings. The concerns were taken seriously and a review commissioned. This was not in response to any particular incident or disclosure.

Quakers are committed to making sure everyone is safe in the Quaker community.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said, “The protection of children in our meetings and of those who come into contact with our worshipping communities, is driven by our aspiration to build safe, loving, inclusive all-age communities where all are heard, valued and supported. We welcome the helpful recommendations for improving BYM practice, which are largely in line with our existing Safeguarding Improvement Plan."

An external safeguarding agency, Red Snapper, reviewed 162 case folders from the past 25 years, held in the Library in Friends House, the offices of Quakers in Britain.

Red Snapper concluded:

  • There were no high-risk cases
  • 25 cases need to remain open and monitored
  • 139 cases can be closed

Mark Mitchell, (Interim) Safeguarding Officer for Quakers in Britain, said, “This was a thorough review of both historic and more recent cases carried out by experienced safeguarding consultants. It is gratifying to note that out of the 162 cases reviewed, none was considered 'high-risk', meaning that incidents were effectively managed and the children and/or vulnerable adults involved are not at risk of harm. Quakers will not see this as cause for complacency however; across Britain we are continuing to review and improve safeguarding practices to build on this solid past performance."

In addition, Quakers have contributed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which opened in 2015.

In 2019 IICSA asked Quakers in Britain to make a statement to its investigation in religious organisations and settings. The request asked for information about Quaker safeguarding policies, procedures and approaches, including cases of child sexual abuse over the previous 10 years. Paul Parker, as the Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, affirmed their intention to engage fully with IICSA and to be open and co-operative.

BYM provided written statements but was not called to give evidence in person at the public hearing.

The final report from IICSA's investigation is anticipated in 2021 and Quakers expect to act on its recommendations.

Read 'Protecting the most vulnerable among us' by Juliet Prager, Deputy Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain.

Read about Quaker commitment to safeguarding