Past Cases Review 2

lots of colourful umbrellas

In October 2022 the Church of England published its summary report of the Past Cases Review 2. PCR2 was a significant undertaking and is believed to be the most extensive review of records ever completed by the Church of England. The project commenced in 2019 and had been scrutinised on two previous occasions by the National Safeguarding Panel (NSP), first in October 2020 and again in December 2021

The review covered a 3-year period and involved 65 independent reviewers who produced 45 independent reports from their work in dioceses and other church settings. Over 75,000 files were within the scope of the review. The findings in the national report were presented as 26 recommendations under 11 headings which reflected cross cutting, recurring themes highlighted in the reviews.

This Panel session focused on the implementation of recommendations set out in the national summary report. The Panel were joined for the session by staff from the National Safeguarding Team (NST) working on the recommendations and by a Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel (DSAP) Chair and a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (DSA).

Impact and accountability

The total cost of PCR2 was £3.4 million. These costs include diocesan reviews, reviews of the cases held by the National Safeguarding Team as well as project management costs. The Archbishops’ Council refunded £1.2 million of the costs incurred to the dioceses. It was also costly in time as well as money.

The Panel asked whether this represented good value and whether it made the Church a safer place. The response was that the process had been very important for the Church of England and enabled it to be confident that a whole range of concerns had been considered. It provides a benchmark for the long term. It also uncovered 383 cases which needed action. That was important.

The Panel asked whether the Church plan to publish an annual update on progress against the recommendations and whether the recommendations align with findings from other case review activity. The NST have a process to bring together recommendations from other reviews. They are also recruiting an additional member of staff who will work on looking at the impact of the implementation of recommendations. The National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) will be kept updated.

New cases

PCR2 identified 383 safeguarding cases that needed further investigation. The Panel sought assurance that each case had been assessed and all necessary actions taken.  The Panel also asked about the governance to oversee the follow up of cases in dioceses.

It was clarified that not all of the 383 cases were unknown or not being managed. Several inadequacies in these cases were highlighted, including:

  • safeguarding risks not being identified nor managed appropriately
  • the needs or expectations of survivors or victims not being considered nor met
  • cases not being recognised as requiring a safeguarding response
  • inadequate record keeping and central coordination of risk.

This included cases from the 1980s which had been appropriately managed at the time, but where information had not been record centrally. These had not been recorded previously with the National Safeguarding Team so have been categorised as new and part of the 383 cases.

DSAPs set up reference groups who oversaw the process and are overseeing the work on their cases to ensure action is being taken. They ensured there was information about the project, to encourage people to approach the diocese if they had relevant information. Where appropriate any cases that had not been properly investigated were referred to the police and social services.

The NST has established a framework to record the outcomes and additional details for each individual case. This will assist in building confidence that each case has been appropriately managed. The information is being collated so that it will be possible to say how many of the 383 cases warranted referral to social services or the police.

The Panel asked whether there was a profile of the new cases and their distribution across dioceses. The whole picture was not available at the meeting. However it was noted that London had a higher number of cases than other regions. Extensive work is being undertaken to understand the outcomes for the cases.

The Panel asked whether all identified survivors have been informed that their case was being reviewed. It was reported that decisions were taken locally based on each individual situation, bearing in mind the period of time that had elapsed, the circumstances of the case and the possibility of causing distress to victims and survivors.

It was noted that whilst the work had been considerable in many dioceses, it has provided confidence that all known cases have now been independently reviewed. It also served to remind parishes of the importance of complying with policy and procedures and of working with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team to ensure churches are safe.

Survivors’ perspectives

The Panel previously recommended that support measures should be put in place for survivors when the summary report was published in October 2022. Panel members asked what was done and what lessons were learnt from this?

The NST responded that workshops were held along with some 1 to 1 meetings as well as support being provided by individual dioceses. Consultation was undertaken with survivors for the final report and publication. Two survivor/ victim workshops reviewed the recommendations and provided feedback.

Panel members went on to ask about the role that there has been for survivors on Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panels and how are they able to influence the local implementation of the PCR2 recommendations?

Diocesan representatives answered that while some DSAPs have survivor representatives on their panel, others have a representative from a survivor organisation. Each diocese was required to make clear their survivor care strategy, to ensure that any survivor who wished to speak to the reviewers would be given the opportunity. Their views were fed back to DSAP as part of the quality assurance process. Where DSAPs have been unable to recruit a survivor onto the Panel, survivor views continue to be considered throughout the work of the DSAP.

Diocesan perspectives

The Panel identified that previously dioceses have advised that PCR2 was a quality assurance exercise. The Panel therefore wished to know how the new quality assurance framework, safeguarding standards, and the independent audit process are being integrated with the PCR2 findings?

The NST explained that the team that is working to implement recommendations 1 & 8 from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) are ensuring that there is integration with the PCR2 recommendations. The quality assurance framework will enable the measuring of performance in undertaking safeguarding responsibilities.

The Panel expressed concern that without additional funding or capacity diocesan safeguarding teams and Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panels may not be able to implement all the recommendations.

The Panel asked for any examples of good practice.

One diocese has an action plan for PCR2 and updated its Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel in April 2023 – it is reviewed and will continue to be monitored through the Diocesan Safeguarding Strategy. Another diocese ensures that the plan is debated at the diocesan synod. It was also noted that the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisors (DSA) conference is a good opportunity to share good practice.

The NST staff identified that the work on IICSA recommendations is helping dioceses to identify their needs and to plan financially for safeguarding. One diocese stated that the work on PCR2 helped highlight a resource deficiency and enabled the case for further funding to be made to the diocese, as well as helping with recognition of the importance of safeguarding.

Implementation of recommendations

The Panel asked what is the plan to implement the recommendations from PCR2, are there some that are being prioritised, and what progress has been made?

It was clarified that there is activity on 24 of the 26 recommendations. Work is being undertaken on prioritisation with a clear output expected in 2024.

For example, it was noted that there has not been sufficient focus on domestic abuse. More work is planned in this area.

The Panel asked about recommendation 16 which sets out the need to introduce reflective conversations for members of clergy during the biannual Ministerial Development Review process. What progress has been made and is any work being done on developing more regular clergy supervision?

Some good practice has been identified with one diocese having developed appropriate questions to be used. It is recognised that clergy are not always comfortable with the term supervision and characterising it as support enables the purpose to be better understood.

Conclusions and recommendations

The Panel welcomed an opportunity to scrutinise the progress of the recommendations and to follow up on recommendations arising from the panel’s previous scrutiny sessions of PCR2 (October 2020 & December 2021). The Panel acknowledges the scale of the review and the progress made in many areas. Improvements were reflected in the experiences of diocesan safeguarding representatives attending the session.

However, to ensure future progress and address outstanding issues the panel made the following recommendations:

Scrutiny and oversight

  1. The panel encourage the development of a standardised framework to monitor the progress with implementing the 26 recommendations. This framework should support the rigorous oversight of the recommendations at a national and diocesan level.
  2. Securing stakeholder and public confidence in the way the findings of the PCR2 review are delivered is a critical issue. Careful consideration should be given to publishing annual internal and external updates on the progress with delivering the recommendations. Dioceses should also be encouraged to publish annual updates.

Survivor focus

  1. The panel has previously raised concerns surrounding the support measures in place for survivors at the time the national PCR2 summary report was published in October 2022. These concerns remain. The National Safeguarding Team should feedback specifically what was done, what worked well and what were the lessons learnt from measures they put in place in October 2022 to support survivors at the time of publishing the report.
  2. The panel recognises that a great deal of work is being done to progress the service offer for survivors. However, the relationship between the concept of a survivor’s charter, the responding well policy, and other initiatives to communicate the principles of survivor engagement remains unclear. The National Safeguarding Team should provide an update on how this work is being coordinated and developed.

Survivor support on future publication

  1. With any further publication on the progress of the PCR2 recommendations, internally or externally, engagement and support should be in place for survivors prior to any communications being made. Greater proactivity with local and national survivor groups is encouraged by the panel.

Assessing impact

  1. The panel notes the comprehensive work being done to coordinate the final outcomes framework for the 383 new cases raised during the review process. The panel should be provided with the final product of this work, and a briefing on the development of the outcome’s framework and the contribution of survivors to this framework.
  2. The investment within the National Safeguarding Team of a Benefits Realisation post to identify the impacts and outcomes from safeguarding activity is welcomed. The panel should be updated on the progress of this work as it develops.

Consistency in dioceses

  1. Despite emerging good practice in several areas across church settings, the panel recognises that consistency of safeguarding practice remains a challenge particularly in the following 2 areas:
    • Coordination of the operation and practice of Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panels.
    • Gaps with accessing the voices of those that do not have a conduit for their voice i.e., children, adults at risk of abuse or exploitation, those with additional needs.

The National Safeguarding Team should share with the panel the plans to address these issues.

  1. The panel are keen to support the development of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panels quality assurance, self-assessment tool. The National Safeguarding Panel offers to host an online consultation session with members to further progress this work.
  2. The Panel’s next good practice webinars should include innovations and emerging practice being led by Parish Safeguarding Officers as well as exploring how good practice is cascaded across dioceses and other church settings.

Supervision and support

  1. The challenges of integrating safeguarding discussions within Ministerial Development Reviews and potential overlaps with issues of support and wellbeing of clergy are acknowledged by the panel. A detailed update should be provided on the progress of this recommendation and the roles included within it should be clarified i.e., senior leadership programme (lay leaders), bishops.

Oversight and governance

  1. There is an urgent need to develop a deeper, collective understanding of the governance of safeguarding scrutiny, practice, and policy in the church. This should include the reporting requirements, business plans and interfaces of the panel, National Safeguarding Steering Group, Archbishops Council, and future arrangements for the Independent Safeguarding Board.

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