United Synagogue backs independent regulator to monitor safeguarding against sex abuse

Jewish groups call for more oversight of religious organisations at Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse  


The United Synagogue has backed the creation of an independent regulator for safeguarding as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse concluded its hearings into religious organisations. 

In his closing remarks, Alan Payne, representing the US at the inquiry, said the US considered “there would be a real benefit in having an independent regulatory body to set clear minimum safeguarding standards and to monitor adherence to those standards.” 

The body would, he added, would need to avoid placing “excessive administrative burden” on communities and to provide them "with discretion as to how best to achieve the safeguarding standard".

The idea of external regulation has divided Jewish organisations with some groups linked to the Charedi community wary of it. 

But there were strong calls for independent oversight from Jewish groups that provide support to victims of child abuse. 

Richard Scorer, representing London-based Migal Emunah as well as other faith groups, said, “We clearly need registration of religious activities and personnel… because, without it, meaningful regulation of any kind is clearly impossible.” 

Urging an “entirely new model” of oversight, he said, “The current situation exposed in these hearings is a collective failure not just of religious organisations themselves, but of all the agencies charged with child safeguarding and, indeed, the law itself.” 

Honza Cervenka, representing the Australian-based Kol V’Oz, similarly urged “external intervention and regulation”. 

He said, “The ultra-Orthodox leadership cannot be trusted when it comes to addressing the issue of child sexual abuse within their community.”  

But Paula Jefferson, the legal representative for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said there were “many instance of successful co-operation” on safeguarding between secular organisations and the Union and other Charedi organisations.  

The Union, she said, would also continue to support Interlink and Shema Koli, which had trained hundreds of community professionals and volunteers “to standards set by local children's safeguarding boards”. 


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