Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to common questions and queries in relation to the independent PCR2 and the process of sharing information and submitting a declaration.

Any questions regarding this process or your requirements within it should initially be directed to PCR2@chester.anglican.org

 


 

 


Q. Who is required to complete a declaration?

Each parish is required to complete a declaration, and this will be completed and signed by the Incumbent. The PCC Secretary and PSO will also need to be consulted in this process in order for them to check their records, all are required to sign the declaration to confirm they have done so. We cannot accept one form for the whole benefice.


Q. Which members of my parish/setting should I include in this declaration?

We require all information regarding any concern relating to a church officer, lay member or person in a position of trust within your parish. This is irrespective of its source, age, or perceived reliability. This information may be incomplete or unclear at this stage.


Q. Who will see this information?

This information will be reviewed by the qualified Independent Reviewer who is working with the Church of England to complete this PCR2. Information may also need to be shared with statutory agencies if it is deemed there is, or maybe, a current risk or crime to be investigated.


Q. Do I need to include parishioners?

Information is not being requested on worshippers and those attending church activities who do not hold a role in the parish.


Q. What information is a parish required to submit?

We require all information regarding any concern relating to a church officer, lay member or person in a position of trust within your parish. This may be found within your own records, those of the PCC or PSO. This is irrespective of its source, age, or perceived reliability. This information may be incomplete or unclear at this stage. You are asked to confirm that all records, irrespective of their age or if in archives, have been checked and to what year you have been able to make such checks.


Q. What shall I do if I only have a small piece of information?

Historically, it has nationally been found that concerns may not have been formally recorded. Even if, despite your searches, you have a small piece of currently unsubstantiated information, that information must be shared so that it can be reviewed to identify if further investigation is required.


Q. What will happen to my information?

Your information will be reviewed by the Independent Reviewer and further investigation may be required. It may also need to be shared with the DSA if the Reviewer identifies a potential unaddressed need that may require immediate attention.


Q. What should I do if there is a concern that should possibly have been reported but wasn’t?

If the Incumbent becomes aware of matters that they believe may never have been reported to the DSA, then they should immediately report them directly to the DSA as well as documenting them on Table 1A.


Q. What time period is covered by the review?

We are asking that all records that are held are checked, irrespective of their age. You are asked to confirm that all records, irrespective of their age, or if in archives, have been checked and to what year you have been able to make such checks.


Q. Where am I required to check?

Checks should be made with the PCC, PSO, all staff, lay members, parishioners and all formal and information records. There may be instances where it is appropriate to speak to previous postholders/parishioners. The DSA can provide support on this if identified. Some suggestions have included PCC minutes, Handover Books, informal records etc, but this is not exhaustive. You are asked to confirm that all records, irrespective of their age, or if in archives, have been checked and to what year you have been able to make such checks.


Q. What if the concern I identify happened before my posting?

The Incumbent may need to make sensitive and discreet enquiries with their predecessor and church officers locally to clarify matters from the past. Advice regarding these enquiries can be obtained from the DSA.


Q. Where will my information be shared?

This information will be reviewed by the qualified Independent Reviewer who is working with the Church of England to complete this PCR2. Information may also need to be shared with statutory agencies if it is deemed there is or may be a risk or crime to be investigated.


Q. Why am I being asked to do this?

The House of Bishops wishes to ensure that our churches and church-related activities are as safe as possible for children and vulnerable adults. It is important that all cases of concern about the behaviour of clergy and church officers towards children and vulnerable adults have been considered and dealt with appropriately. Incumbents have been asked to check that all instances within their parish(es), both historically and currently, have been reported to the DSA and any which have not, are reported immediately.


Q. Why do I need to involve lay staff and parishioners?

It is identified that not all concerns may have been formally recorded in parish records, that often lay staff and parishioners may have information that is not known to the current Incumbent and as such is a vital potential source of information about potential historical and current concerns.


Q. When should I share this information with church officers and parishioners?

This information should be shared without delay and it is recommended that all are asked to raise their concerns with the Incumbent at least one week prior to the declaration submission date to allow inclusion.


Q. When do I need to submit this declaration?

Submission of Table 1A and the Declaration must be sent to PCR2@chester.anglican.org by 28th February 2020 at the latest. Any concerns regarding a parish being able to submit a return by this date should be brought to the attention of the DSA immediately.


Q. How do I submit the declaration

Once you have checked your parish records and archives and the PCC Secretary and PSO have also checked their records and archives for all references to incidents of concern about the behaviour within your parishes, both non-recent and current, and ensured that those which are potentially still presenting a risk have been reported to the DSA, you should complete the Table 1A and the Declaration. We cannot accept one form for the whole benefice. Every parish must submit Table 1A and the Declaration, detailing all cases of concern and signed by the Incumbent, PCC Secretary and PSO for each parish.

Send them to the Independent Reviewer via email: PCR2@chester.anglican.org. Handwritten submissions can be sent to Suzanne Cottrell, PCR2 Independent Reviewer, Church House, 5500 Daresbury Park, Daresbury, Warrington WA4 4GE. All forms must be received by 28 February 2020.

All parishes must return a Declaration irrespective of if they have shared information on Table 1A or not.


Q. How will my information be stored?

All information will be stored on password-protected storage systems or in locked storage at Bishop's House. Only the Reviewer will have access to this information and may share this with the DSA if immediate concerns need to be addressed. All records will be retained in line with current GDPR recommendations.


Q. How do I share this review with my staff and clergy?

Communication support materials will be developed during the review and made available here. Incumbents, or those who have a responsibility to complete the Declaration, are asked to ensure that you inform all about the content of this email via parish meetings and that you display a copy of the Bishop's Letter on your noticeboards. An article for your parish magazine, copy for your parish website, and posts for your social media accounts will be made available here. 


Q. What if a parishioner, member of the clergy, or lay member needs support?

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 Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser. 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. Individuals also have the right to make representation directly to the Independent Reviewer and they can do this by emailing: PCR2@chester.anglican.org


Q. What if the information was given to me second hand, do I need to disclose this?

Yes, all information regarding concerns or potential concerns should be disclosed, irrespective of how unclear they may seem at this point.


Q. What if a safeguarding agreement is already in place?

You do not need to provide details of people subject to safeguarding agreements. Protective measures should have been installed in such cases. The advice of the DSA should be sought in any instances of doubt.


Q. What if the young person was over 16?

Experience has shown that there have been some cases of alleged abuse to people over 16, including some who have later said that they consented. Any such cases should be included even if prosecution or cautioning has not taken place.


Q. What if I can find no records or information pertaining to concerns which are unreported?

We will still require a signed Declaration and Table 1A confirming such.


Q. What if I identify or become in receipt of information which may be relevant to PCR2 after I have submitted my Declaration and Table 1A?

If it should happen that after the submission of the Declaration, any other relevant information regarding historical concerns comes to light, it should be submitted to the DSA or Independent Reviewer without delay. 


When you are asking me to check my “Parishes of Work” what should I include?

Any parishes you have served within, in any capacity. These parishes are limited to those within the Diocese of Chester as you will be contacted by other dioceses to assist them in completing their PCR2. Any work you have undertaken for the Church internationally will also not need to be recorded unless it was part of your work with the Diocese of Chester. It is recognised that some clergy and church workers who now work in other organisations may well have previously worked in parishes across the diocese before their current appointment.


Do I have to check my parish archives that are stored outside of the parish building?

The national practice guidance wasn’t very clear on this issue, we have sought clarification. The section in the guidance where it states ‘records in parishes will not be reviewed’, contributes to some confusions and we are advised that this refers to the Independent Reviewer not needing to visit parishes as all information should be submitted on the individual Declaration. Therefore, the answer is, unfortunately, yes, PCR2 records across the country require full checks on all records relating and held by a parish for as long as they have been stored and wherever they are held, we are requiring this to include records for the 1940s. We appreciate this is a difficult task and we recommend seeking support from others in the parish to assist you to do this. Records held in Cheshire County Records Office can be accessed via the links discussed below. The CRO is now open on a Monday and that day is dedicated to parishes checking their archived parish records. Those that have completed this element of the review have found the CRO extremely helpful.


How long do I need to go back in terms of the records held relating to my parish both within the parish and externally?

Again, we have sought clarification on this from national office and the requirement is that your records, both held locally and in archives, which may be on or off-site will extend for many decades and that to meet PCR2 requirements, records should be checked to include the 1940s as there would still be a risk of victims being alive who may require support.


Who else can I ask in the parish to help me?

We cannot advise on who outside of church officers within your parish is suitable to help you with your review but recognise you will need support and may be able to identify individuals who you deem suitability trustworthy, particularly those who may have held a role previously, and would ask you to use your discretion to choose as you see fit.


What if a person who is helping me check records finds a concern relating to themselves, a family member or someone they know?

Even if only a slim possibility, there could be information in your records that relates to a family member of the person who is checking the records. You will need to be sure that the information will be passed on safely. Perhaps one way of addressing this would be for people to view records in pairs so that should this unlikely scenario arise, people can be adequately supported, and information processed.


Do all those that are involved in the checking of records need to sign the Declaration?

We require only those listed on the Declaration to sign on behalf of the parish that they are satisfied the task has been carried out following the guidance.


There are limits as to what I can check as a retired clergy member.

We understand that you will not currently have access to records pertaining to parishes within which you have previously served, as they remain in that parish. All current incumbents have also been contacted, what we seek from retired clergy members are any recollections related to concerns, however small or seemly insignificant, that you may have heard being discussed or had raised with you in relation to your time there. These concerns may have related to issues prior to or after you moved on. Also, we would ask if you would look to see if you have any of your own notes which you may have taken from parish to parish, often it is information, whilst frequently not complete that is stored in such sources that have helped support other information that is raised with us. The information to be shared doesn’t have to be complete, it could be something as simple as a piece of a discussion that was shared with you.


Do I need to include parishes I have worked in outside of the Diocese of Chester area and those abroad?

These parishes are limited to those within the Diocese of Chester as you will be contacted by other dioceses to assist them in completing their PCR2. Any work you have undertaken for the Church internationally will also not need to be recorded unless it was part of your work with the Diocese of Chester.


Can you please provide a suggested checklist for records that I need to check? 

There are some suggested records that you may wish to consider on the support information distributed with the letter, but both locally and nationally, it is recognised that parishes have different methods of formally and informally recording information both within their current parish and any they may have previously served in. As such, the National Office and the diocese are unable to provide a complete list, but require that all records held either in the parish or in archives, which may contain both formal and information (which could be something as simple as a recollection from a number of years ago and is incomplete), should be shared on Table 1A. We do know, however, that historically information has been contained in PCC records that have been a valuable source of corroborative evidence for the police. That is why this request is included by both ourselves and National Office as particularly in respect of historic information, incident forms weren’t used in the same way they are today but there might be some information logged from a PCC meeting.


When you say all records, does this include those such as buildings and finance records?

It may have been more appropriate for us to say relevant records, therefore, it is difficult to see if any relevant information would be stored in records relating to finance and buildings. 


How do I access archived records held off-site?

All parish archives deposited with the Diocesan Archives are held at the Cheshire Record Office in Chester, parishes can find out what’s been held by searching the online catalogue here. The best way of tracking down what’s held for a particular parish is by searching for a town/village name and choosing ‘Church of England Parishes’ in the ‘Type of Archive Collection’ field, once a parish has found items it needs to consult. Information about using the service can be found here. If the parish supplies a list of the items it wants to consult in advance of a visit, the items can be retrieved before the visit.


Why do I need to check PCC minutes held in the parish and in archives?

This has been clarified as to what is being asked by the National Office. If your parish records include those within county archives then these should be checked also. Some parishes are carrying this out with volunteers/PCC members because of the size of the task. The advice we have been given is, that if you have records in archives too, perhaps some of the PCC members might be willing to assist with this task. Some people may also know of matters from memories they have but which they never knew what happened about subsequently. The guidance from the National Office isn’t very clear, but they have clarified that nationally, all parishes consider all records to include those from the 1940s and that there should be written confirmation that such checks have been made. 


Other dioceses are asking for checks to be made in different ways, why is that? 

We are working from a very brief ‘brief’ regarding this project and dioceses are being asked to obtain information in ways they see fit locally, but all dioceses are being asked to request the same information.


Why do I need to check records for any deceased clergy and church officers when the national guidance is only asking for those who are living?

We know that nationally and also in this diocese, there have been cases relating to clergy members who are now deceased, which after the matters were investigated led to the identification of living clergy. Although a clergy member is deceased, some victims have come forward since and given information and received support. There may be other victims where alleged perpetrators are deceased. We have, in our view, a duty to have records checked as far back as possible which should include the 1940s were available as we have recently been dealing with complaints that go back to the 1940s and 50s where, despite clergy members being deceased, victims were alive and needed support.


Are school staff and governors considered as church officers?

Some good news! No, they don’t need to be included.


I only have a small piece of information, it is uncorroborated or was made to me in passing, do I need to include this?

Any piece of information you have regarding a concern you feel could possibly be relevant, should be documented on your Declaration and Table 1A. It is often information of this sort that can be considered alongside other information to provide a clearer view of a concern.


I have a lot of information regarding a concern and it won’t fit on the table.

Please feel free to extend the boxes if you are completing an electronic return or mark the table that you are adding additional information on a separate sheet if you are sending your return via the post.


Shouldn’t the diocese already have all the information regarding concerns relating to my parish?

Yes, we should have all the information here, but unfortunately, it has been found that historically not all concerns were referred to, or shared with the DSA and as such, we need to address this now.


What if I am unsure if the information I have is relevant or I submit something that isn’t relevant?

All information should be shared, the information you have in isolation may not seem to mean much to you on its own, but together with other information that may be shared with us, it helps us build a clearer picture and informs any action we will need to take. Any information received and deemed not relevant to PCR2 will be removed.


Our congregation only meets monthly

Do you have any other method of communicating with your parishioners such as social media etc? If not, please continue with your local and archive checks, communicating with your parishioners at your earliest opportunity.


My PCC secretary and two other PCC members have just left

Are there any other trusted members who you feel may be able to support you in this task? Further guidance on how this can be implemented is detailed below.


Our parish magazine only goes out monthly

Do you have any other method of communicating with your parishioners such as social media etc? If not, please continue with your local and archive checks communicating with your parishioners at your earliest opportunity.


I don’t want to discuss or disclose a particular concern to the PCC Secretary or PSO

It is a requirement that the PCC and PSO are involved in this Declaration and should support you in its preparation. If there is a particular issue that you wish to share with us and do not feel it is suitable to be shared with others who are signing the Declaration, can you please make contact with the DSA who can receive this information directly.


Why do some parts of the guidance issued by the diocese say parishioners should raise concerns with the incumbent when others say they can directly contact the DSA or NSPCC?

The option is open for individuals to discuss any concerns with the Incumbent, which would allow you to share this information on the Table 1a, but also if they so wish, to make either direct contact with the DSA or the NSPCC helpline to make disclosures directly in the unlikely event that they do not wish to discuss this within the parish. The aim is to maximise the opportunity for individuals with concerns to make a disclosure that can be considered as part of the review.


The national guidance says there is no expectation for parish records to be reviewed, so why do I need to check these records?

The national practice guidance wasn’t very clear on this issue and we have sought clarification from them. The section in the guidance where it states ‘records in parishes will not be reviewed’, refers to the Independent Reviewer not needing to visit parishes as all information should be submitted on the individual Declaration.


What communication materials are available to help me spread the message in my parish and where can I find them?

They are all available on the PCR2 webpage on the diocesan website here: https://www.chester.anglican.org/pcr2/communications-resources.php


The support information says that new concerns should go to the DSA, but then also says they should be recorded on the declaration, which is it?

Any information regarding new concerns not previously shared with the DSA should so be done without delay following House of Bishop Safeguarding Policy. If they relate to incidents in the past, then they should also be added to the declaration on Table 1a.


What does ‘dealt with satisfactorily by the DSA mean’?

Was the DSA involved? Did you discuss with the DSA, and did you receive support which you felt was relevant and helpful?


Is it not more realistic for clergy to check parish minutes where we’ve been informed of possible historical concerns and then focus on the minutes of that time?

The difficulty we have in waiting until an issue is identified and then checking records, whilst it makes sense in some instances, we know that cases have come to light through PCC minutes that otherwise there was no record of elsewhere and this has led to investigations. In the situation outlined, the police were looking for something else when they discovered a matter. National Office has also been clear that all records since they were recorded should be checked.


The declaration states ‘Parishes Worked’ and all references are concerning parishes, I don’t work in a parish.

We recognise that those who have received a Declaration to complete may now not work in a parish and may be situated in a relevant organisation whilst being a diocesan appointment. As such, we would ask that you complete the Declaration sharing any concerns from the time you have been within parishes and related to any concerns related to your current relevant organisation.


Can I be granted an extension?

Your record checking will take as long as it takes, and we completely understand you have much else to do in the parish that you are already committed to and I know you are conscientiously working towards completing the task. If we are assured you are progressing, and if you can provide an update by 28th Feb as to progress, then in some cases where there are extenuating circumstances, an extension can be considered. 


I am responsible for several parishes, I don’t think I can do checks for all within the timeframe given?

We appreciate this is a considerable task, particularly if you have more than one parish. If we are assured you are progressing, and if you can provide an update by 28th Feb as to progress, then in some cases where there are extenuating circumstances, an extension can be considered. 


Page last updated: 13th February 2020 4:00 PM