Diocese of Newcastle

Past Cases Review 2

In 2007, the Church of England commissioned a Past Cases Review, which sought to look at the handling by the Church of child protection cases over many years. The House of Bishops wants to ensure that our churches and church-related activities are as safe as possible for children and vulnerable adults, and all Dioceses have therefore been asked to extend the review in 2019 and 2020 to include children, young people and vulnerable adults. This process is called Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2), and requires Bishop Christine to make enquiries at parish level as well as commissioning an independent reviewer to review diocesan files for Clergy, Readers, Authorised Lay Ministers, and Diocesan Employees whose work falls within the scope of the review.

Protocols and practice guidance for the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2, (PCR2) have been published and are available to download on the Church of England’s website

Individuals who wish to make representations to the PCR2 process or who need to come forward with information or make any disclosures regarding church related abuse are encouraged to make direct contact with the Independent Reviewer, Liz Benson, liz.independent.reviewer@gmail.com

The Safeguarding Adviser employed by Newcastle Diocese, Ruth Rogan, can also be contacted on 07825 167 016 or email r.rogan@newcastle.anglican.org.

However, recognising that this may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the church, a dedicated telephone helpline 0800 80 20 20 - operated independently from the church, by the NSPCC, has been set up. Anyone can use the helpline 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 whistle blow about poor safeguarding practice.

Survivors were not invited to contribute to the 2007-2009 Past Cases Review and the Church has wanted to ensure a different, trauma informed approach is taken by PCR2. Listening to survivor voices has helped to shape how this review will be conducted.

Survivor voices vital to PCR2.

A message from Bishop Christine

I am absolutely committed to making sure that this Diocese is as safe as possible for everyone, and I welcome PCR2 as one of the ways in which we can achieve this. I am very mindful of those who have been abused by people in positions of authority and trust in the Church, and I want us, as a Diocese together, to do whatever we can to respond properly to them, and to prevent this happening to anyone else. I encourage all of the members of our churches to read the letter from The Rt Revd Mark Sowerby, the text of which is shared below, and to act on anything that needs to be brought into the light.

+Christine, Bishop of Newcastle

The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, deputy lead bishop for safeguarding and Chair of the PCR Project Board, writes:

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. [John 1.5]

St John the Evangelist, like St Luke and St Paul, uses the imagery of light and darkness, where darkness represents concealment and shame, whereas light represents the revelation of truth. Darkness hides things that are forgotten, uncomfortable or broken and have been ‘put out of the way’ in cellars or behind closed doors. They may be things that are inconvenient or of which we are ashamed or afraid. In darkness they lie where we can forget about them, but Christ is The Light of The World and brings to light things now hidden in darkness. He brings to light those deeds that have been concealed and the victims of sins who have been silenced or kept from view. The Light shines for those who need justice and healing and upon those misdeeds that have injured them.

Allowing light to shine on what has been hidden is a first step towards healing, not only for those who have been abused, but for those whose consciences are, or ought to be, troubled by those sins they have buried away beyond the sight of others. Sometimes it will take an external prompting for those things to be opened to the light of day and to the light of Christ but with such prompting may begin the path to penitence and forgiveness, the path to healing of long-hidden wounds.

Through the Past Cases Review, we are asking you to help shine a revealing light on any instances of abuse that have occurred in your benefice and to help ensure that everything that ought to be brought into the light has been. Shining a light on what has hurt or frightened someone is a matter of justice for those who have been victims; sometimes it may also prevent further harm and sometimes it may be the first step towards healing. With that in mind, we thank you for your cooperation in working towards a safer Church.