We will take complaints seriously, says bishop whose diocese is revisiting past-cases review

26 June 2018

CHURCH TIMES

The seven dioceses

The seven dioceses

THE seven dioceses that require an “updated form” of the Past Cases Review (PCR) have been named.

The dioceses of Rochester, Ely, Sodor & Man, Lichfield, Salisbury, Winchester, and Sheffield were all named after the Singleton report recommended that seven dioceses required more scrutiny (News, 22 June). The PCR was “flawed” and “failed to give a complete picture”, one of the report’s authors, Sir Roger Singleton, said last Friday.

Sir Roger, as part of the Independent Scrutiny Team (IST), was asked to review the adequacy of the PCR of 2007-09, which was a review of more than 40,000 files, dating back 30 years, on diocesan staff, clergy, and lay min­isters. It looked for any evidence that clergy or church workers had abused children (News, 24 February 2010).

The report says: “We recommend that an updated version of the PCR, as prescribed by the National Safeguarding Steering Group, should be conducted in the 7 dioceses where further work is considered necessary.”

On Tuesday, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said: “I cannot stress enough how dramatically practice has changed in recent years. If you have reported an incident in the past and felt it had not been dealt with properly, or there is an incident you have never felt confident enough to report, please contact us. We will take your report seriously and investigate it thoroughly.”

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said: “We very much regret that this review did not meet the standard expected. While we have undertaken further reviews since then, we accept that we must repeat that exercise, and we welcome this opportunity to learn from previous shortcomings.

“We look forward to receiving further guidance which will ensure that this work is carried out in a robust, independent, and appropriate manner, in line with current standards and expectations.”

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A spokeswoman for the diocese of Winchester said on Tuesday: “In 2016, the diocese of Winchester notified the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team that it believed the diocese’s Past Case Review, conducted in 2008, would not meet present-day standards, and that the process should be repeated.

“We welcome the fact that Sir Roger’s report has now reached the same conclusion. The diocese has already appointed an independent reviewer, and the review process has begun.”

Canon John Coldwell, Sodor and Man diocese’s communications officer, said: “Although a comprehensive review of past safeguarding cases was carried out in 2007-9, we acknowledge shortcomings in record keeping then which means we need to repeat the exercise.

“This will give us an opportunity to learn any lessons, but more importantly, be as sure as we can be that positive action was taken following past safeguarding incidents.”

A spokesman for Lichfield diocese said that it was asked to re-do PCR “due to administrative issues at the time that the review was carried out in the diocese”, but since the review it has “been working hard to professionalise our safeguarding approach”.

He continued: “Preparation is already underway for this further work and a full scoping exercise will take place to ensure it is independent, comprehensive and victim-focused.”

The diocese of Ely also said in a statement that it welcomed the recommendations and guidance of the IST, and had already begun a new process.

The diocese of Sheffield said that its new review “is now nearing its conclusion and the reviewing team is expected to feed back in July 2018”. The diocese urged anyone with a safeguarding issue to come forward. 

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