The Church of England has today published a report into its handling of the 2007-2009 Past Cases Review. The full text of the report can be downloaded from here.
There is a press release: Report into handling of Past Cases Review which explains the background. Sir Roger Singleton authored the report and chaired the independent scrutiny team.
…In November 2015, in his report to the Archbishops’ Council, the newly appointed National Safeguarding Adviser noted ‘growing recognition of shortcomings of PCR’; inconsistencies in the application of the House of Bishops Protocol designed to bring consistency and independence to the process, cases of abuse coming to light that should have been identified in the PCR and survivors not being engaged in the process.
Following an initial screening process by the National Safeguarding Team, Sir Roger Singleton was asked to independently review the adequacy of the Past Cases Review and makes recommendations to the Church of England.
The report sets out the findings of this independent scrutiny and makes nine recommendations. These have been accepted by both the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, and action is now being taken to address both the shortcomings of the original PCR and to instigate a further review known cases and new appointments made since 2007.
Today’s report will be sent to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to which Sir Roger Singleton gave evidence during the Chichester Case Study public hearing in March of this year…
The BBC had a report about this earlier, Church of England ‘s 2010 abuse inquiry was ‘flawed’ and ‘failed‘, which currently notes that the report is not due to be published until next month. There were items on the Radio 4 Today programme about this too, including an interview with Sir Roger Singleton.
There has also been a Press Association report published at Care Appointments, Inquiry into Church of England historic sexual abuse was ‘botched’.
…The PCR looked at more than 40,000 case files relating to allegations of abuse dating as far back as the 1950s and concluded that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse needed formal action.
After survivors complained that the report was inadequate, Sir Roger was commissioned to carry out an independent review of how it was conducted.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “botched in three ways”.
“The survey wasn’t completely comprehensive,” he said. “It didn’t include some cathedrals, it didn’t include employees working with children in some parishes.
“The attempts really to make the survey absolutely complete were flawed.
“In the public statement that it issued reporting on the review, (the Church) rather failed to give a comprehensive picture of the concerns that existed.
“It narrowed down the definitions of who had actually been responsible for abuse by limiting it to just new cases and cases where the Church took formal action. This had the impact of reducing the numbers from probably nearer 100 to just two which appeared in the public statements.”
Asked whether he found that Church officials were concerned to avoid reputational damage, Sir Roger said: “I think that is one of the factors that led those who prepared the press statement to emphasise the positive points for the Church and rather to downplay the negative aspects.”
He said it appeared “extraordinary” that some survivors were denied the chance to give evidence.
“There is no doubt that some victims and survivors came forward and offered to meet with the reviewers carrying out this work and that offer was refused,” he said.