The original ‘Past Cases Review’ (PCR1) conducted in 2007-2009 was a large-scale review of the handling by the Church of child protection cases over many years. A review of that original PCR by an Independent Scrutiny Team (IST), published in 2018, revealed serious shortcomings in its discharge and recommended that:
- ALL dioceses and the provinces ensure that relevant files (including those of diocesan lay employees working with children) which are known not to have been examined in 2008/09 or which have subsequently been located and not examined, are independently reviewed and any cases of concern which emerge, are dealt with by the DSA as if they were new referrals.
- ALL dioceses should be asked to check 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 DSA.
- An updated version of the PCR, as prescribed by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), should be conducted in the seven dioceses where further work was considered necessary (Ely, Rochester, Sheffield, Lichfield, Salisbury, Winchester and Sodor & Man.)
In fact, the Diocese of Sheffield, at the request of the Bishop of Sheffield, had already started an independent review of this earlier work. Starting in 2019, independent reviewers have examined case and church records to ensure that all cases have been dealt with properly. A reviewer has also spoken with survivors to ensure their experiences are heard and understood.
The final report from the reviewer was submitted for the Diocese of Sheffield to the Church of England National Management Board in December 2021. While it showed there was no evidence of unmanaged risk within the Diocese of Sheffield, a series of recommendations for improvements were made. These recommendations relate to specific cases, as well as wider processes and recording. The senior team and DSMG looked very carefully at the possibility of publishing these recommendations in full but felt that it could not be safely done without disclosing details that may identify specific cases, and therefore survivors. An action plan to implement the report’s recommendations has been developed, which the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group will oversee.
The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, said:
“I am immensely grateful to the Independent Reviewer, whose conscientious work over many months has brought this project to a good conclusion, and to the Chair and Members of our Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group and our Diocesan Safeguarding Team for their wholehearted engagement in this work.
“I am mindful of all those survivors who have revisited painful experiences of abuse in order to assist us in making this review as robust as it can be, and I wish to confirm again my commitment to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the review. We have made good progress in safeguarding practice in the Diocese of Sheffield in the past decade, but the work is far from done. We aspire to be a Diocese in which healthy culture in normal in church, so that every congregation is a safe place to be.”
The news story and full national report from the Church of England can be found here.
While the Diocese are not able to publish the full report, the Executive Summary of PCR2 can be read here.
For contact directly with the Diocese please email firstname.lastname@example.org.