‘I have a complaint about a member of the clergy – what can I do?’

We expect a high standard of integrity and service from all our clergy. Mostly that standard is met, but occasionally individual clergy fall short of what is expected of them. When this happens, there are different ways you can respond.

Informal Stage

  1. When an incident occurs, you are encouraged to share your disappointment with the clergy person concerned and do your best to resolve the problem together, or speak to the Vicar.
  2. If, however, your complaint is about the Vicar or the situation remains unresolved, please have a word with your local Area Dean or Lay Chair (use the staff list if you are unsure who this is).
  3. The Area Dean or Lay Chair will speak to the member of clergy, so that the matter can be dealt with and sorted out informally. This can be done in a variety of ways including the possibility of having a facilitated discussion with the assistance of a trained mediator.
  4. At the end of this process the Area Dean or the Lay Chair will ask you whether your complaint has been resolved.

Formal Stage

If the informal stages above have been explored, but the complaint remains unresolved, the Area Dean or Lay Chair will notify the Archdeacon who will reach a decision about how to take your complaint forward.

This may include the possibility of the behaviour of the clergy person amounting to ‘misconduct’. If this is the case, the provisions of the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) will need to be met. The CDM provides a procedure for handling such complaints of misconduct.

Please visit the Church of England website for detailed information about the CDM process, including:

  • grounds for a formal complaint under CDM
  • who can complain
  • how to make a formal complaint using forms and information available
  • the time limits for the procedure
  • what happens next

Publicising Penalties and Proceedings

The Diocese of Oxford adheres to the guidance for publicising notices of Penalties and Proceedings, as laid out in the guidelines published by the Clergy Discipline Commission.

Further support and advice

Additional information about complaints and whistleblowing can be found in the safeguarding section of this site. However, if you need support at any stage of a complaint process, telephone 01865 208200 and ask to speak to the Clergy HR team.

Please be assured that your complaint will be taken seriously and that we will keep you informed about what is happening.


Published: July 2016
Page revised: February 2018

Download Handling Complaints 18 July 2016.