Last updated 11th August 2023
This page contains everything parishes need to fully engage with Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2).
The substantive work on PCR2 began in early 2020 (See Background paragraph below). Despite the Coronavirus restrictions, progress has been made and the Review has now entered its next phase.
Key developments are:
We wanted to update parishes on the current progress with Past Cases Review 2, writes Sharon Hassall, Previous Diocesan Safeguarding Officer.
A reminder that PCR2 followed an initial ‘past case review’ in The Church of England which took place around a decade ago to identify any ongoing risks to children and young people.
More recently all Dioceses, including our own, were asked to extend the review in 2019-20 to include vulnerable adults as well as children and young people.
This latest process is known as Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) and it's important to say that support for survivors of abuse is at the heart of PCR2. More background below or click here.
All parishes were asked to make what was called a 'parish return' as part of PCR2. Of course, there were some delays to the whole PCR2 process as a result of the pandemic but we are now reaching the final phase.
In that context, we are pleased to report ALL parishes have now sent back their PCR2 'Parish Return'. This is an amazing achievement, particularly at this current time, and we want to say a huge thank you to each and every parish for making their own Return.
All Parish Returns have been reviewed by the Diocesan Safeguarding Team against the known cases we have on file. As the information was assessed we can tell you there were a small handful of leads on the parish returns that had not been referred to the safeguarding team in the past. Further follow-ups in relation to these are now taking place as appropriate.
You may recall in previous updates we have also said we had appointed two independent reviewers, one full time and one part time. Both are former senior police officers.
They have been examining all the personnel files held by the Bishop’s Office including Cathedral clergy files, as well as files in scope of the review pertaining to the Diocesan Offices. They have looked at more than 1000 files in total. They have also reviewed all the cases on the Known Case List (KCL). Their work is now complete.
A final report is now in draft form for sign off and we will give parishes further updates in due course. The deadline currently for all Dioceses to return a final report to the National Safeguarding Team is June of this year. At present we hope to have completed, signed off and returned our own Diocesan report by March of this year.
We want to ensure our churches and church-related activities are as safe as possible for children and for vulnerable adults.
An initial ‘past case review’ in The Church of England took place around a decade ago to identify any ongoing risks to children and young people.
All Dioceses, including our own, have now been asked to extend the review in 2019-20 to include vulnerable adults as well as children and young people. This latest process is known as Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2).
The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson (pictured), sent a letter on February 28, 2020 to all parishes (see Core Documents below) which includes further important information to help them work with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team and to ensure that collectively we complete the review promptly and effectively. All parishes MUST read and act on the information provided.
These website pages are also designed to be a 'one stop shop' of everything required by parishes for engagement with the PCR2 process.
In his letter Bishop Julian says: "Thank you for all you do to make our churches a safe place for people to worship.
"PCR2 is a central part of the Church of England’s proactive approach to ensuring our churches are safe environments for everyone.
"The purpose of the review is to identify where abuse allegations have not been managed appropriately, or safely, or with the needs of the vulnerable at the centre of decision making.
"The welfare of children or of adults at risk of abuse (vulnerable) is of paramount importance to us in undertaking this review."
Here at the Diocese of Blackburn and also nationally, survivors voices are vital to PCR2. This approach was underpinned here with the issuing of what has become known as 'The Blackburn Letter' to our parishes in summer 2019.
Speaking on BBC Radio Lancashire, the Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley said: “There is no such thing as (what is often described as) ‘historic abuse’. If you are a survivor … even if the episode happened 20 or 30 years ago the trauma is still real; but if we don’t listen to those voices, we are re-abusing.
"It is a fact that healing for survivors of abuse can only truly begin when we are not afraid to bring the shadows into the light and try to see through God’s merciful eyes."
If you wish to give feedback on your experience you can contact the Independent Reviewer, Claire McEnery, on email@example.com
Safe Spaces, the free national support service for victims and survivors of church-related abuse, will increase operational hours under a newly appointed independent provider, First Light, who take over the service from Monday 9th January.
Safe Spaces offers a confidential, personal, and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England, The Church in Wales or The Catholic Church in England and Wales, regardless of disability, age, gender or sexual orientation.
The Safe Spaces Services will be available on 0300 303 1056 or via the website.
Opening hours will be extended to Monday to Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday 9-1pm and Sunday from 1-5pm (excluding bank holidays, subject to review)
Safe Spaces can also be contacted at Safe Spaces England and Wales
First Light is an independent organisation with over 25 years’ experience in supporting those who have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse and/or domestic violence and abuse, including survivors and victims of church-related abuse.
First Light were appointed by The Church of England, The Church in Wales and The Catholic Church in England and Wales on 24 November 2022 after a rigorous recruitment process by The Board of Trustees of Safe Spaces England and Wales including victims and survivors. First Light have assumed responsibility of the website and communications for Safe Spaces, and will post updates in due course.
By ‘church related’, this may include:
The service is for people 18 or over who live in England and Wales. Survivors do not have to have reported the incident to the Church authorities or the Police in order to access support, and you do not need to be a current active member of the church in order to access support.
Please refer to the Safe Spaces website for further information on the Safe Spaces service and eligibility.
You can contact the Safe Spaces team by:
(All of these downloadable documents have also been sent via email to parishes with the Bishop's letter)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Parishes may have further questions about the PCR2 process that aren't covered by the information we have provided alongside the Bishop's letter.
If that is the case, then your first port of call should be these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as you may find the answer you are looking for here ...
Articles for parish use
As well as this regularly updated website page on PCR2 which is a 'one stop shop' for everything you need, there will be regular updates on PCR2 for parishes in a number of ways.
Below are number of articles parishes can use in their local communications, some of which require adding local links within the text (where shown) to complete them ...
Remember too that general communications advice is always available 24/7 on the communications resources area of this website.
All of the material in this section is specifically designed to be available for parishes to read and can also be downloaded for use in local parish communications ...
(More articles and website links will be added here over time.)
In addition to this dedicated PCR2 'one stop shop' page the safeguarding team for this Diocese has its own set of pages on this website which can be explored by starting here and then navigating further using the menu on the right of the page you land on.
Meanwhile, anyone wanting further information, or to make disclosures of church-related abuse, can make direct contact as follows:
Diocesan Safeguarding Team
Recognising this may not feel safe for those with a direct experience of abuse from within the Church, if you would prefer to speak to someone else in the first instance contact:
Anyone can use these additional routes to provide information or to raise concerns regarding abuse within the Church of England context; whether they are reporting issues relating to children, adults or seeking to whistleblow about poor safeguarding practice.
Your concerns will always be taken seriously.
Finally, please direct any media enquiries you may receive about the Past Cases Review 2 to Ronnie Semley, Diocesan Communications Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01254 503070
Ronnie Semley; page last updated January 2023