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New public database of Church of England’s clergy is to go live in May

14 January 2021

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THE new National Register of Clergy, which will list the name and ministerial authority of every cleric in the Church of England, is to go live in May.

By 23 February, all 20,000 active clerics in the Church — those who hold a licence or permission to officiate (PTO) — are required by canon law to confirm with both the National Church Institutions (NCIs) and the dioceses that their information is accurate — via a short form on the C of E website. 

Currently, PTO and licence details are held in each diocese but not published nationally.

The register was first recommended in the 2017 Gibb review, which investigated the Church’s handling of allegations against the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball (News, 30 June 2017).

It was later discussed at length at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which was also highly critical of the Church’s lack of record-keeping, particularly regarding clerics with PTO, which, the inquiry concluded, had compromised accountability over safeguarding (News, 10 May 2019).

The inquiry established that there was no public national database for the clergy besides Crockford’s Clerical Directory, which is incomplete, since clerics can opt not to appear in it. Also, records of clerics with current or expired PTO, criminal records, and other concerns kept on file by dioceses had tended to be incomplete, lost, ignored, or blighted by poor record-keeping, IICSA said.

The new register was also recommended in a report from the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) (News, 29 June 2018). It comes into effect under the National Ministry (Clergy) Regulations 2020 given final approval y the General Synod in November (News, 4 December 2020).

The register will be available to the public on the C of E website from May. It will show a cleric’s title and name, their current post or licence, and the diocese, area, or benefice to which they are licensed. Unlike Crockford, the register will not include contact, biographical, or historical information.

The register can be searched to verify whether someone has PTO or a licence to hold office — as is the case in national registers for other professions. After the launch, it will be expanded to include lay ministry.

A letter is being sent to everyone who is to be included on the Register, with an unique reference number. The form cannot be completed without this number. The email address for support is: psproject@churchofengland.org

www.churchofengland.org/resources/clergy-resources/national-register-clergy

 

New vice-chair of Clergy Discipline Commission appointed.

THE next deputy chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission is to be Judge David Turner QC. He succeeds Sir Mark Hedley, who retired in December.

The Commission, under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, issues codes of practice and policy guidance to those who exercise clergy discipline functions in the Church of England, and gives advice to disciplinary tribunals, bishops, and archbishops on appropriate penalties.

The chair is Dame Sarah Asplin who started the role in January 2019.

Judge Turner was appointed a QC in 2000 and a circuit judge and deputy High Court judge in 2004. He divides his time between criminal and family work in Chelmsford and London. A former churchwarden, he is a Reader in the diocese of London, and acts as a consultant to the diocese’s ministry development review.

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