Churches urged to respond well to domestic abuse


15 March 2017

Responding Well to Domestic Abuse: Policy and
Practice Guidance

Church communities are being urged to address the issue of
domestic abuse and raise awareness of its impact on adults and
children.

The
updated practice guidance and policy
from the House of Bishops,
published today by the Church of England, encourages churches to
become places of safety where domestic abuse is taken seriously,
survivors are believed and respected, and alleged or known
perpetrators challenged. The updated document reflects legislative
and other changes since the 2006 guidance*.

Under the policy, Church leaders and Officers working with
children, young people and vulnerable adults will be expected to
undergo domestic abuse training with the issue being raised in
appropriate contexts within church life including youth groups,
marriage preparation and ordinand training. They will also be
expected to work closely with statutory and other specialist
organisations.

Also published today is the new House of Bishops Promoting a
Safer Church
policy statement which sets out the Church’s
commitment to making the church a safer place for all. This is a
standalone policy statement, which was previously part of a wider
document. Updated practical guidance to support this will be
published later in the year.

This policy and guidance applies to all Church bodies and
officers and under new legislation all authorised clergy, bishops,
archdeacons, licensed readers and lay workers, churchwardens and
PCCs must have ‘due regard’*to safeguarding guidance issued by the
House of Bishops.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, lead bishop on
safeguarding, said: “The Church remains committed to those who have
been survivors/victims and to addressing processes that lead to
domestic abuse. In all its forms domestic abuse is contrary to the
will of God and an affront to human dignity. All need to play their
part in preventing or halting it. This is underlined by the
commitments in the House of Bishops policy statement, part of the ‘whole Church’ approach to safeguarding providing consistent policy
and practice. “

Notes 

*A duty to have ‘due regard’ to guidance means that the person
under the duty is not free to disregard it but is required to
follow such guidance unless there are cogent reasons for not doing
so, (“cogent” for this purpose means clear, logical and
convincing). Failure by clergy to comply with the duty imposed by
the 2016 Measure may result in disciplinary action.

*In 2006 the Church of England produced the ‘Responding to
Domestic Abuse: Guidelines for those with Pastoral
Responsibilities’. This was in response to a motion passed by the
General Synod of the Church of England in July 2004:

That this Synod, noting that domestic violence is regarded
by the Home Office and the police as a crime:

(a) view with extreme alarm the number of incidents being
regularly reported, as being an unacceptable picture of suffering
and abuse;

(b) call for national guidelines to be issued by the
Archbishops’ Council for those with pastoral care responsibilities,
as to the appropriate relationship with both victims and
perpetrators;

(c) recognise the special circumstances associated with
domestic violence, and therefore the special needs of victims, in
minority ethnic communities; and

(d) urge all dioceses to consider ways in which they could
i) work in partnership with other agencies, co-operating
sensitively with those serving minority communities, to provide the
resources needed by victims and their families; ii) speak out
against the evil of domestic violence; and iii) work for justice
and safety in the homes of this nation.’

Publishing details

Church House Publishing are preparing a definitive edition of
the text in print form to support dioceses and parishes in
implementing.

It will be available by 28 April and copies can be pre-ordered
online https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/books/9780715111185/responding-well-to-domestic-abuse

A special introductory offer (available until 26 May) is
available to dioceses ordering printed copies in bulk, with a
substantial discount on orders of 100 or more copies
ordered.
Full details can be obtained by telephoning
Norwich Books and Music on 01603 785925 or by e-mailing orders@norwichbooksandmusic.co.uk