Review into past safeguarding cases underway by diocese

All Church of England clergy in the Diocese of Bath and Wells have been asked to check their records to ensure that all safeguarding concerns have been reported to appropriate authorities.

The request is part of a nationwide review of safeguarding in the Church of England, which is scheduled to take place throughout 2020.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Revd Peter Hancock, has been at the forefront of trying to ensure the Church improves its policies and procedures so that everyone worshipping in church is safe, and that it responds appropriately to any concerns raised.

Bishop Peter has written to all clergy in parish ministry in the diocese and at the Cathedral, asking them to check back through parish records to ensure all concerns have been referred to appropriate authorities. In parishes where there is no priest currently, churchwardens are being asked to complete the review. Organisations which employ clergy in roles such as chaplains have also been written to, asking them to check their records.

Second review

This is the second time the Church has reviewed its records in relation to safeguarding. A previous review in 2007 looked at complaints made against clergy in relation to children. This new review, called Past Cases Review 2, will look at all complaints made not only against clergy but against church officials, and will include complaints relating to vulnerable adults as well as children.

Clergy are asked to sign a declaration that all concerns and allegations have been dealt with appropriately. Any found not to have been reported to the relevant authorities will be now.

The diocese is appointing independent reviewers to go through parish declarations and scrutinize all files.

The review is scheduled to last throughout 2020. Every diocese in the UK is being asked to complete Past Case Review 2.

Bishop Peter said: “In the spirit of the Gospel, we all want to protect and care for our children and all adults at risk of harm.  We wish to ensure that our churches and church related activities are as safe as possible for everybody and to have the best possible safeguarding policies and practices.  But in order to be certain that we are fulfilling our duty of care, it is important to establish that all known past cases of concern have been considered and dealt with appropriately.  We, alongside all other dioceses in the Church of England, are therefore embarking on a comprehensive and historical safeguarding review. “

Reporting concerns

Anyone who has any concerns in connecting with safeguarding, either current or historic, can contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Manager Glenys Armstrong either by email or by telephone 01749 685135. Alternatively, concerns can be reported to a dedicated helpline operated by the NSPCC and independent of the Church, on 0800 80 20 20. Anyone can use this helpline to provide information on safeguarding concerns in a Church of England setting.

Victim Support also has a free support line for anyone who has suffered abuse or a crime against themselves or a loved one. They can be contacted on 0300 303 1972.

Victim Support also has a free support line for anyone who has suffered abuse or a crime against themselves or a loved one. They can be contacted on 0300 303 1972.

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