PCR2 - summary of findings

The following information on this page has been taken from the independent report provided to the Diocesan Safeguarding Panel. The independent report includes case studies that could identify individuals. For this reason, a summary along with recommendations and actions to date is provided here. This is what most dioceses are doing and accords with what the national Church is recommending.


The PCR2 of the Diocese of Oxford has met all objectives set out in the Protocol and Practice Guidance. All amber (requires attention) and red (urgent) cases have been dealt with to a satisfactory conclusion. The safeguarding team are to be credited for the efficiency, sensitivity and prompt action taken in all but one case (see addendum).

As far as practicable, all allegations of abuse of children or adults previously recorded or identified within this review have been dealt with appropriately and proportionately to a standard that is expected of the Diocese of Oxford and the National Church. Through the PCR2 process, we have identified that, out of over 3,000 files reviewed, there were a total of six concerns about clergy or church officers (both living and deceased) which required further review by the safeguarding team and subsequently became open cases. 

It is recognised that some non-recent cases (due to the time lapse and change in church policy) are not of the current acceptable standard. However, the needs of the survivor, where the survivor is known, have been addressed. All risks have been considered and addressed. None of the files submitted [by the reviewers to the safeguarding team] for further action were because of a child or adult being at risk of significant harm.

Page contents

– Background to Past Cases Review

– Number of files reviewed and action required

– Findings and link to recommendations

– Areas of concern

– Addendum


In May 2007, The House of Bishops decided on the need for a review of past cases of child abuse. This followed several high-profile court cases involving clergy and church officers who had been charged with committing sexual offences against children. This became known as Past Case Review (PCR1).

Background to PCR1

PCR1 took place during 2008 – 2009 by all dioceses, including files held at Lambeth and Bishopsthorpe Palaces. The process for conducting the PCR was based on a House of Bishops Protocol. It scrutinised the files of clergy and church officers to identify any person who presented an on-going risk to children that had not been acted on appropriately and proportionately.

The protocol for this was for the then diocese Child Protection Officer to draw up a list of known cases of child safeguarding concerns relating to clergy and church officers to submit to the Independent Reviewer, who would then advise the diocesan Child Protection Management Group on whether further action was required. This was by way of reviewing all files of licensed clergy; all readers and lay ministry employee files of those who have access to children via the church, and those clergy with permission to officiate.


There were shortcomings in the PCR1 protocol; nothing like this had happened before. As a result of these findings and in consultation with the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), the new National Safeguarding Adviser commissioned an independent assessment of the adequacy of the PCR. The assessment was conducted by an Independent Scrutiny Team (known as IST) led by Sir Roger Singleton, who, in April 2018, reported to the National Safeguarding Steering Group.

The NSSG accepted the nine recommendations of the report agreeing that the PCR1 should be repeated in seven dioceses and that the review should be brought up to date in all other dioceses extending the parameters to include vulnerable adults. The IST placed each diocese into one of the following categories:

A Those dioceses who do not need to carry out a repeat of the original PCR and who have done further review work since January 2007

B Those dioceses who do not need to carry out a repeat of the original PCR but who have not conducted further review work since January 2007

C Those dioceses which need to repeat the original PCR.

The Diocese of Oxford was categorised as B

Commissioning arrangements for the independent review

Three independent reviewers were formally approved to complete the PCR2 review for the Diocese of Oxford.  The three reviewers were independent of the diocese. 

The independent reviewers agreed the process for the review; to review the files of each Archdeaconry in turn followed by ordinand files, staff files, safeguarding files, cases on the Known Case List paying particular attention to references, ‘safe to receive' letters and Clergy Current Status Letters (CCSL), parish returns.

Number of files reviewed and action required

3,367 files were reviewed in the Diocese of Oxford.

As a result of the independent review of clergy and church officer files 48 enquiries were submitted to the diocesan safeguarding team for further action. Of these, 26 were previously known, and 22 were new. Of these, six cases requiring investigation were opened by the safeguarding team.

The independent reviewers were happy that none of the files submitted for further action were because of a child or adult being at risk of significant harm.

The independent reviewers made 20 recommendations for the Diocese of Oxford and the National Church


Theme: File Review

  • A well-administered filing system is present throughout the diocese.  
  • The Bishops' PAs and chaplains hold the day-to-day responsibility/maintenance for the upkeep of the files
  • The respective area Bishops have ultimate responsibility for those in ordained ministry.
  • The diocese holds a variety of other HR files in respect of church officers, such as those in lay ministry, those who hold a license or commission, and volunteers.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Parish Records

  • The diocese received a 100% return from parishes.  
  • There were 454 'Nil' returns and 187 'Positive' returns, of which 40 were repeated within other parishes. 
  • Of the 147 (nett) positive returns (from parishes), 107 were considered to be safeguarding matters, 24 were not safeguarding or within the remit of the PCR2, 16 held insufficient information to identify any safeguarding as the details were unknown.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Safeguarding

The Diocese of Oxford have a positive attitude to safeguarding... [but] there is evidence that clergy, church officers and staff (I do not include the safeguarding team) do not always recognise their responsibilities in reporting a safeguarding issue or to the victim/survivor or respondent. 

The independent reviewers were unanimous in their findings of safeguarding that there is a past and present: 

  • The past; a failure to standardised recording methods for all cases. It was evident that some caseworkers recorded everything whereas others recorded very little. Cases did not always have a recorded rationale, they held scant details of the referral, details of complainants or survivors/victims, no clear outcomes or impact. The reviewers felt that this was not because of an ability to carry out their role; it arose because of being overwhelmed with high workloads, lack of continuity in recording, lack of resources. There was evidence of a large turnover of staff, often this left positions vacant, and the team under-resourced, as a result. The team were good at dealing with quantity allowing the quality of recording, closure of cases to be poor. This led to the poor management of cases with little monitoring or oversight.
  • The present; the current Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) is in the process of reviewing all open cases... closing those where the investigation is complete, closing and reopening cases that are unsubstantiated, require a resolution or where persons need updating or further investigation is required. It is evident that the DSA role has developed since PCR1 encompassing more roles and responsibilities. Originally it was a Diocesan Child Protection Adviser only; this then developed into the DSA role, latterly expanding into including adult safeguarding and domestic abuse. Due to the increased demands of further investigative roles such as spiritual abuse, training needs more managerial responsibilities a team was then developed to support the DSA.
  • The safeguarding team evidenced good practice when a safeguarding concern is reported; a timely response when understanding the situation, assessing the risk, and deciding on the action if any to be taken, including informing statutory/non statutory agencies. They follow the timeline for recording and assessment, 24 hours with the expectation of a core group meeting within 48 hours. It is accepted that this is not always possible due to availability of core group members. The independent reviewers found that in some non-recent cases it was difficult to access the response time for initial referral due to poor recording however, with better recording and case management this has improved considerably with timely responses and wherever possible core groups arranged and held within 48 hours. For the management of new cases referred to the safeguarding team, the DSA has developed a triage referral system. 
  • The independent reviewers have dip sampled several new referrals to access the process; the process allows for concise recording, timely meetings, investigation, referral to agencies, allocation of case work, ongoing monitoring. Any other safeguarding enquiries such as enquiries regarding training, DBS, advice go through the training and DBS administrator. These amount to approximately 2000 enquiries a year.    
  • The reviewers found the links with the statutory agencies is in general good but does vary between the seven local authorities covered by the diocese. The DSA and caseworkers have a good working knowledge of what cases require referring and to whom they need referring. The links with the police again are sporadic quite often depending on the response of officer in the case. The diocese does not have a SPOC (single point of contact) with the police for referrals.  

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Risk management

  • The DSA will carry out a review of risk at the point of receiving a referral into the safeguarding team. Any risk is recorded and referred to the relevant agencies.
  • The core group or ‘Safeguarding Planning Meeting’ (SPM) will, as part of the investigation plan, consider what steps are taken with regards to ‘risk assessments' and ‘safeguarding agreements'. The decisions of the SPM are recorded within the minutes, which are then recorded in the investigation case record on Safebase.
  • Copies of risk assessments are kept within the safeguarding files. The clergy blue files do not hold copies of risk assessments/case notes/complaints/CDM. This highlights the relevance of clergy blue files identifying a safeguarding file exists.
  • Safeguarding Agreements: these are agreements relating to persons who are identified as posing a possible risk to children or adults. Safeguarding Agreements are retained on ‘Safebase’. A watch system is used to monitor yearly reviews. New agreements are reviewed on a 3-month/6-month basis. The safeguarding team advise the parish on the content of the agreement; the parish then oversee the management of the agreement. Any person with a safeguarding agreement will be allocated a responsible person who will monitor that the agreement is being adhered to. The parish have a review group which is generally made up of the incumbent, the church warden and, parish safeguarding officer to carry out regular reviews to ensure the agreement is working. Any breaches are immediately reported to the DSA and statutory authority.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Survivor engagement

  • The diocesan Survivor Engagement Policy is published on the Diocese of Oxford website and within newsletters. 
  • The diocese uses the NSPCC helpline as a referral point. 
  • The diocese in support of victims/survivors have authorised listeners, use Safespace with access to psychological therapists. In July 2020, the diocese appointed two volunteer survivor advocates: a qualified female counsellor with a background in the NHS; a male who is an ordained priest with a background in forensic psychology.
  • The independent reviewers were encouraged that the diocese had worked to improve survivor engagement. The reviewers found that engagement with victims/survivors is good, especially with prolonged, high-profile cases. The independent reviewers also identified that there was a lack of engagement in some non-recent or the not-so-clear-cut cases that had been left open to drift, with little action or no rationale.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Domestic abuse

  • The diocese follows the Church of England policy on domestic abuse.
  • Where the DSA has been referred a case of domestic abuse there is clear evidence that a referral is made to statutory agencies.
  • The DSA and caseworkers use Clare’s law with a dedicated proforma when applying for information.
  • It was clear to the independent reviewers that the safeguarding team have a good working knowledge of domestic abuse and the judicial system surrounding the complex issues involved.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Theme: Findings

  • The reviewers commenced the review in March 2020. The Diocese of Oxford and the independent reviewers followed the Protocol and Guidance PCR2 July 2019 incorporating the recent guidance.    
  • IT equipment and suitable accommodation was made available to the reviewers. The atmosphere within the diocese was one of openness, trust, and transparency. Administration staff were made aware of the review taking place. The independent reviewers had free access to all paper files held at Church House and those held within the Archdeaconries, to the electronic safeguarding databases and the diocesan contact management system (CMS).
  • The independent reviewers were unanimous in their findings that there is significant change in the diocese response to safeguarding. As earlier discussed, this is evident in the changes in DSA personnel, their experience and commitment to their roles, changes in church policy at the diocesan and national levels.
  • The independent reviewers found that the overall long-term response to past cases of safeguarding has been good. However, as evidenced, there has been a lack of good recording, case management, and supervision of cases. The diocese at senior level need to understand the complexity, and time commitment required by DSA’s and caseworkers in the investigation/recording of safeguarding cases.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken

Areas of concern

The reviewers highlighted 12 areas of concern at the time of their report. Please refer to recommendations and actions taken for the diocesan response.

  1. The number of ‘Open Cases’ that the reviewers found at the start of the review (189). The average safeguarding referral rate is 5.85 a week. Each DSA/ADSA and case worker is carrying a heavy workload allowing for cases to be prolonged unnecessarily. 
  2. [The reviewers found] Cases that remain open to Assistant Diocesan Safeguarding officer and caseworkers who have left.
  3. [The reviewers found] Cases that are completed but not finalised, some going back to 2014.
  4. The length of time that investigations that are either currently open or closed have taken or are taking to be dealt with. This is especially evident in complex cases and where there is a CDM process.
  5. The CDM process is lengthy and unnecessarily bureaucratic for all parties whether respondent, victim/survivor.
  6. Clergy blue files do not correspond with the CDM process.
  7. The collation of paperwork relating to CDM, complex case reviews.
  8. Correspondence relating to any safeguarding issue should be within the safeguarding file. Historically there is evidence that both Bishops and Archdeacons have kept files containing information relating to safeguarding cases and CDM’s that are not within the main file.
  9. Clergy blue files to be reviewed prior to the arrival of a member of the clergy into the diocese.
  10. All new clergy blue files to be reviewed by the DSA.
  11. The tracking and monitoring of transient respondents within the church. 
  12. The requirement of a national safeguarding database.

Click here for recommendations and actions taken


Addendum to PCR2 report

A survivor of childhood abuse contacted the Diocese of Oxford in May 2020 to disclose non-recent abuse by a church officer. It is with deep regret that we did not respond well to the survivor of that abuse. Due to some mistakes made and substantial delay in investigating the case, it was not included in the initial report. This caused the survivor significant pain and re-traumatisation. Our safeguarding team has since worked with the survivor to investigate their case, ensure inclusion in PCR2, put in place learning from this situation and provided the support that we should have offered at the outset. We are confident that there have been no other occurrences. One failure is too many and this error should not have happened.

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Page last updated: Wednesday 5th October 2022 10:51 AM
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