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Updated: CofE In New Child Abuse Review After Failures Within 2007 Church Report

Published on: 30 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 2 Oct, 2021

The 2020 Investigation Report of Child Abuse in the Church of England.

By Hugh Coakley

The Diocese of Guildford is calling for victims and survivors “to give information or make disclosures about church-related abuse” in a second, national past case review (PCR2) by the Church of England (CofE).

The review, expected to be complete by December 2021, has had three “independent reviewers” working through “approximately 1,500 clergy and church officer files” since mid-May 2021.

2018 Review into the 2007 CofE Church-related abuse Past Case Review (PCR).

A review in 2018 into the adequacy of the CofE past case review in 2007 was set up after “court appearances by several clergy and church officials charged with sexual offences against children”.

The 2018 review found the 2007 review “failed to reflect the true extent of the issues which needed to be addressed” and the claims that, “…. nobody representing the Church in a formal capacity has allegations on file that have not been thoroughly examined…” could not be wholly evidenced.

It found little evidence of work with victims or survivors as a direct consequence of the 2007 review.

It recommended an “updated form of PCR in seven dioceses” but failed to name the seven. It called on the CofE to “recognise the minimal response which the Church made to victims and survivors following the PCR”.

For the latest investigation, people are being asked to contact the diocesan safeguarding advisor, Jackie Broadfoot (jackie.broadfoot@cofeguildford.org.uk  07918 559387) or to call a dedicated telephone helpline (0800 80 20 20), operated independently from the Church of England by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Right Reverend, Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford.

A CofE spokesperson said: “We hope this will make it easier to talk about what happened to you.

“Anyone can use the helpline to provide information or to raise concerns regarding abuse within the CofE context, whether they are reporting issues relating to children or adults or seeking to whistle blow about poor safeguarding practice.”

The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson said: This review will help us to ensure that the concerns reported to our churches have been dealt with properly.  We have learnt from a previous review that survivors and victims’ voices are critical, and I would urge you to come forward.”

The CofE spokesperson said: “By the time the Diocese of Guildford has completed the PCR2, it should have the strongest possible foundation on which to build for a safer future, without the fear that our files might contain vital information which we’ve somehow overlooked.

“We will be putting in place concrete actions to ensure that our policies, practices and behaviours are informed by what we have learnt from this comprehensive review.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has himself been accused of hypocrisy over child abuse and criticised for not doing enough to stop the “horrendous abuse perpetrated by John Smyth”. The criticism has been published by Virtue OnLine, which describes itself as “the voice for global orthodox Anglicanism”, and Private Eye. The Archbishop issued a statement in May 2021 after meeting the survivors of the abuse carried out by John Smyth saying: “The Church has a duty to look after those who have been harmed. We have not always done that well.”

But the archbishop was adamant, when interviewed by The Guildford Dragon NEWS at the weekend, that the review was not a box-ticking exercise and he encouraged victims to come forward.

We have contacted the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors for a comment on the past case review (PCR2).

[The article incorrectly stated Archbishop Welby was “criticised for not doing enough, when he was the Dean of Liverpool Cathedral in 2007”. The reference to Dean of Liverpool Cathedral has been removed. We have also added a statement by the Archbishop after he met with survivors of the abuse by John Smyth.]

See Dragon Interview: The Archbishop Of Canterbury Justin Welby and Guildford Diocese Appeals To Hear From Any Victim Of CofE Abuse

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