BBC response to Dame Janet Smith review published

The BBC is now a different place, but we are not complacent and neither should others be. We hope our full response will also help other organisations and we will continue to seek to learn from them.Tony Hall, BBC Director-General
Date: 06.12.2016     Last updated: 06.12.2016 at 10.50
Category: Corporate
Following the publication of the Dame Janet Smith report in February 2016 the BBC published a progress report in July 2016 and undertook to provide a response to Dame Janet’s recommendations by the end of the year.

This is being published today and sets out the action the BBC has taken to address the recommendations made in a range of external reports and reviews, including the Respect at Work review of 2013, the GoodCorporation review of Whistle Blowing and Child Protection Policies and Processes of 2015 and Dame Janet Smith’s Review of 2016. Also published today is a further external review and audit of the BBC’s policies and processes, undertaken by GoodCorporation, that reports on the progress made since 2015.

We have looked at three areas in our response:

  • Policies and practices relating to child protection, bullying and harassment and the raising of complaints and concerns
  • External scrutiny and challenge – including GoodCorporation’s follow-up review of our policy and practices
  • Culture – including communication, management and attitudes to talent. Some of the action taken in these areas is summarised below and further details are in the full report.

The BBC is clear that this is not the end of its work in this area and that a constant process of review and development is needed to ensure we maintain best practice in these areas.

As we said in February, we are sorry to the survivors of Savile and Hall who we let down and are grateful for their courage in speaking out.

Tony Hall, Director-General, says: “A lot has happened since these terrible crimes first emerged. As Dame Janet’s review showed offenders are often devious and cunning; they operate in all walks of life and often in plain sight. No area of society, profession, or environment is immune. That is why we all have to be vigilant and have the best possible policies and processes. The BBC is now a different place, but we are not complacent and neither should others be. We hope our full response will also help other organisations and we will continue to seek to learn from them.

“As we move into the new Charter period, I want us to be sure that the BBC of the future is always mindful of the lessons from the past.”

Peter Saunders, founder of NAPAC says: “NAPAC is delighted to be working closely with the BBC as the Corporation addresses the issues revealed by the Dame Janet Smith Review. We have already provided training to the BBC's safeguarding personnel and we look forward to further and closer cooperation with our national broadcaster.

“Having met Lord Hall, the Director General, I am encouraged by his commitment to ensuring that the events of the past are not repeated, that children can enjoy any time they visit the BBC and that corporation employees who are also survivors of childhood abuse can expect a level of support commensurate with working for a safe and caring organisation.”

Policies and practices

Our policies and practices have improved over time and we now have up to date and distinct policies covering child protection, grievances, bullying and harassment and audience controls. There are also clear processes for staff to raise different types of complaints or concerns relating to these areas, including an external whistleblowing helpline and support for staff. These routes have been publicised through internal communications campaigns to ensure staff are aware of the right way to raise issues and give them the reassurance that they will be dealt with appropriately and we will continue this work.

The BBC’s HR department has also undergone significant changes and modernisation in recent years. It operates in line with best practice for organisations this size, with a centre of excellence in Birmingham.

External scrutiny and challenge

The BBC has also today published an updated review by GoodCorporation of our policies and practices. This follows a recommendation by Dame Janet Smith that we should commission a further external review of these areas. We also felt it was timely that, following the original GoodCorporation review which was published in 2015, we should assess our progress against their original recommendations. This review found that we had successfully built on what was already a strong foundation. Our child protection and safeguarding approach has been recognised as industry-leading and the response to child protection concerns has been exemplary. GoodCorporation have also pointed out some areas where we can go even further and we are now addressing these. All the recommendations will be completed by March 2017.

We have also been working with the NSPCC on enhancements to our child protection policy and implementing the recommendations of GoodCorporation’s review. We have worked with NAPAC in developing a training programme for our child protection advisers and programme makers who may come into contact with survivors of child abuse.

Culture

We have worked to simplify the structures of the BBC and reduce the number of layers of management we have, helping improve the way different parts of the BBC work together. We have worked with team managers to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities and understand their role is getting the best out of people. We have also highlighted the bullying and harassment and child safeguarding policies in talent contracts and worked to understand the views of staff and management across the organisation, including some of our BBC talent – both on screen and off – to get a better sense of how they feel about working at the BBC. This showed a sense that our approach is improving and we will continue to work in this area. We will continue to work to build a great sense of cohesion and make working at the BBC a creative and rewarding experience.

BBC Press Office