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Thursday, 4 March 2010

Historic Review of Child Protection Now Complete

The Diocese in Europe along with the other 43 Dioceses of the Church of England has now completed an extensive exercise reviewing past concerns about child protection. The review, the most comprehensive of its type across the Church of England, involved analysis of more than 40,000 files held on diocesan staff, clergy, and lay ministers dating back more than 30 years, by independent reviewers appointed in each diocese. Any concerns raised were recorded and passed to the Child Protection Management Group in each diocese, together with the independent reviewer’s recommended action on each case. Any urgent issues were referred immediately to the relevant statutory authorities.

The outcome of the review is as follows: 40,747 files were examined. 13 cases were identified requiring formal action, 11 were referred to the statutory authorities, (8 involved clergy and 3 involved a non-ordained person holding some form of church office). In 2 cases action by the statutory authorities was not possible, but the independent reviewers deemed them to warrant formal disciplinary actions by the Church.

The Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford and Chair of the Church’s Central Safeguarding Liaison Group, said:
“As a result of this Review, we are now able to say that nobody representing the Church in a formal capacity has allegations on file that have not been thoroughly re-examined in the light of current best practice, and any appropriate action taken. But there is no room for complacency, and the Church, like other organisations working with children, remains committed continually to developing our procedures for safeguarding vulnerable people.”
This review has highlighted areas where the Church now needs to focus extra attention, namely:
  • How records are shared between dioceses when clergy and other office holders relocate;
  • How records can be shared between dioceses when a priest has ‘permission to officiate’ in more than one diocese;
  • How records of allegations which turn out to be unsubstantiated or unfounded should be kept in a way that resolves future uncertainty;
  • Introducing a standard requirement for all clergy to undertake ‘refresher’ safeguarding training at regular intervals.
Insights from the Review will inform the next edition of Protecting All God’s Children, the House of Bishops’ detailed child protection policy, due to be published by the end of 2010.

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