The Future of Church Safeguarding Programme (the Programme) has been set up to help Professor Alexis Jay CBE recommend how to ensure that there is fully independent safeguarding within the Church of England.

While the Programme has been commissioned by the Church of England, the Programme operates entirely independently from the Church. The Programme is providing support to Professor Alexis Jay CBE, who previously chaired the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Professor Jay expects to complete her report for the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York by February 2024 and will publish the report herself to ensure full transparency.

This is a significant opportunity to learn from the past, acknowledge the need for improvement and to work towards an independent, fair and impartial model of safeguarding that protects people from harm.


Professor Jay was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York in July 2023 to independently:

  • provide options and recommendations for how a new independent safeguarding and scrutiny body for the Church of England might be formed and how it should operate;
  • make any recommendations for how further independence of safeguarding for the Church of England might be achieved; and
  • make any other recommendations that are necessary or appropriate.

The Programme is focused on a number of key issues relating to independent safeguarding arrangements including:

  • independence;
  • fairness; and
  • impartiality.

How we are ensuring independence

Professor Jay has chosen her own independent team of safeguarding and policy advisers to assist her, including John O’Brien CBE, who was previously Secretary to the IICSA. 

The Programme team is provided by Crest Advisory, which provides specialist independent support to organisations working in justice and public safety.

Her team does not include anyone employed or previously employed by the Church.

The team will not hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. Attempts to interfere with or to hinder the work of the programme could lead to a decision by Professor Jay to cease the programme of work immediately. 


Professor Alexis Jay

In 2015, Professor Jay joined the Panel of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, before being appointed as Chair of the Inquiry by the Home Secretary in August 2016. She worked for over 30 years in local government, working with vulnerable families in deprived communities.  In 2024, Professor Jay was awarded the CBE for services to the prevention of child sexual abuse. In 2014, Professor Jay led the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, an investigation into child sexual abuse in Rotherham in South Yorkshire. In 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.

John O’Brien

John O’Brien was appointed Secretary to IICSA in April 2015, reporting to the Chair to assist the Inquiry to fulfil the terms of reference. John joined the civil service in 2002 as Director of the Criminal Records Bureau. In 2006 he moved to the Home Office, where as Director of Safeguarding he was responsible for policy on public order, public risk and safeguarding and public protection, including responsibility for sponsorship of the Disclosure and Barring Service and the Security Industry Authority. He received a CBE for services to safeguarding in 2023.