5 October 2022
The Church of England has completed a review of more than 75,000 files, some dating back to the 1940s, with the publication today of its national Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) report.
The purpose of PCR2 was to identify both good practice and institutional failings in relation to how allegations of abuse have been handled, assess any identified risks and respond to these where appropriate, and to provide recommendations to the Church that will lead to improvements in its safeguarding work.
PCR2, believed to be the most extensive file review undertaken by the Church, was commissioned after an independent scrutiny team concluded that the original Past Cases Review (PCR) in 2007 was not a thorough process with particular criticism of lack of survivor engagement. PCR2 was carried out by independent reviewers across all 42 dioceses, as well as Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).
The review has found 383 new cases which are now all being actively managed by local safeguarding leads under the House of Bishops guidance. These are cases that were identified by independent reviewers as requiring further assessment by today’s safeguarding standards and, where necessary, further action.
These cover a range of cases, from those resulting in referrals to statutory authorities, to failures to carry out best practice. Reviewers found allegations were often dealt with informally, without appropriate investigations or records or referrals to the appropriate diocesan safeguarding professionals
The independent reviewers found that of the 383 new cases 168 related to children, 149 to vulnerable adults, with 27 recorded as both and 39 with no recorded data.
Data on the alleged perpetrators shows 242 cases related to clergy, with 53 relating to church officers and 41 relating to volunteers whose role included engagement with children.
The report lists 26 national recommendations, developed from the 800 plus recommendations in the 45 local reports. These have been set out thematically and are prioritised under three headings: “Keep doing well”, “Continue to do, but more effectively and consistently”, and “Must improve”.
A survivor and victim centred approach was adopted with the guidance for reviewers compiled from trauma-informed safeguarding practitioners and feedback, both positive and negative, from those previously raising concerns and complaints about their abuse allegations.
The recommendations include a charter to ensure the voices of children are heard and for the NST to develop a charter to set out the minimum standards of service and timescales that should be delivered following a safeguarding disclosure or referral.
An overarching area for improvement was more consistency across the Church’s safeguarding work.
The National Safeguarding Steering Group has accepted the report and is committed to implementing the recommendations. Dioceses, both Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces and the National Safeguarding Team are publishing their own report summaries and actions.