Past Cases Review 2 continues

Work is still underway across the Church of England Diocese of Leicester, as part of a nationwide independent review of all clergy and church officer files and to take action on any safeguarding concerns. It includes matters relating to past cases of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clergy or church officers and is ongoing despite delays and difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Called Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2), the work is being undertaken in all 42 dioceses of the Church of England. It has a key focus on listening to survivors.

As in the spring, there remains an open invitation to anyone who wants to make representations about their experience as a victim or survivor of church related abuse in this diocese. This is in relation to the response they received from the Church, however long ago this may have occurred. There is also an open invitation to come forward with information or make a new disclosure regarding church-related abuse.

Details on how to find out more or to contribute to the review, can be found on the Diocese of Leicester website here.

Those who do not feel safe to report concerns in this way can contact the National Safeguarding Team or a dedicated helpline operated, independently from the church, by the NSPCC. (Update – this helpline has now closed).

A group of independent reviewers are currently working with the diocesan Safeguarding to go over the diocese’s files and a reference group including an independent Chair as well as safeguarding experts from the local authority and  victim support charity backgrounds are also involved.

The work is extensive and was originally expected to be completed by the end of 2020 but due to delays caused by the pandemic, we now aim to complete the work in 2021 and a final report will be published after that.

The background to the PCR2 is that the Church of England was criticised for not including the voices of survivors/victims in the original PCR 2007/8 as shown in an independent scrutiny report, published in 2018. 

As these reviews were not all done as thoroughly as they should have been, the House of Bishops has asked every diocese across the country to undertake a further review. This time the scope of the review is to be extended to ensure that any risk from church officers to children, young people and vulnerable adults has been acted on appropriately. 

Every parish is being contacted to check that all known safeguarding concerns about clergy and church officers such as Children’s and Youth Workers, have been reported to the Diocesan Safeguarding team. 

Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, said: “As a Church we want to welcome all and listen to all. Survivors are a key part of PCR2 and must be heard. This review, and safeguarding generally, is an integral part of our mission in churches across Leicestershire.” 

Activities being undertaken as part of PCR2 in Anglican churches across the country:

• All dioceses are reviewing files which are known not to have been examined in the original review (including those of children’s and youth workers employed by the Church) or which have been located since the first review

• All dioceses are checking with every parish that all safeguarding concerns* about the behaviour of any parish employee or volunteer towards children both currently and historically have been notified to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser

• An independent reviewer will be appointed in each diocese to look at all relevant files and provide a final report. These reports will then be reviewed by a central Management Board established by the Church of England.

Bishop Mark Sowerby, chair of the national PCR Management Board, said: “The Church is committed to ensuring that survivor voices are heard, but we are aware that those who have suffered through the Church may prefer to speak to someone outside which is why we have commissioned the NSPCC helpline. We would urge anyone who wants to talk to please come forward. As a Church we must pray for all those involved, particularly survivors who may be reminded of their abuse, remembering that the effects of abuse are lifelong.”

Melissa Caslake Director of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, said: “This is a substantial and significant task to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all and it is vital we ensure that survivors feel they can come forward in confidence. As a Team we are developing best practice in responding well and we hope that the PCR2 process will help us deal with any concerns that have not been addressed, while learning important lessons for the future.”

Background Notes:

The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community.  This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. 

The Review seeks to align with the Church of England House of Bishops Promoting a Safer Church policy. 

‘Church Officers’ include: Licensed Lay Ministers, Church Wardens, Parochial Church Council Secretaries and Treasurers, as well as Children’s and Youth Workers employed by the Church, etc.

First published on: 30th November 2020
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