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Rochester diocese waiting on child abuse review guidance a year on

A year after being ordered to carry out a fresh inspection into child abuse Rochester diocese is yet to receive guidance on exactly what to include.

It was one of seven districts asked by the Church of England to re-do a Past Case Review (PCR) when it became clear their original checks weren't up to scratch.

A previous national report caused outrage when it concluded there had been just 13 incidents of child sexual abuse in 50 years.

The Past Case Review conducted by the diocese was deemed to be sub-standard
The Past Case Review conducted by the diocese was deemed to be sub-standard

There are 42 diocese in the country and Rochester, Ely, Sodor & Man, Lichfield, Salisbury, Winchester and Sheffield were the seven told they required more scrutiny last June.

At the time Bishop of Rochester the Rt Rev James Langstaff said: “We very much regret that this review did not meet the standard expected. While we have undertaken further reviews since then, we accept that we must repeat that exercise and we welcome this opportunity to learn from previous shortcomings.

"We look forward to receiving further guidance which will ensure that this work is carried out in a robust, independent and appropriate manner, in line with current standards and expectations.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to those who have suffered at any time because of abuse they experienced within our diocese. I would like to assure survivors, as well as everyone with our parishes, projects, local communities and external partnerships that we take our safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously, and have in recent years significantly increased the resources committed to this."

Rochester Cathedral
Rochester Cathedral

But after 11 months Rochester's hasn't started despite Church of England safeguarding boss the Bishop Peter Hancock telling a recent episode of the BBC's Panorama the organisation had "gathered many statistics and was very happy now to put those figures into the public domain".

When pressed on what those figures were by presenter Jane Corbin he said: "I don't think looking at overall numbers is the most helpful way."

The Church later confirmed it would present its findings to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

But the diocese explained Bishop Hancock was referring to national figures which encompass all concerns relating to all community linked work and not just allegation about the clergy.

Rochester's previous PCR conducted between 2007 and 2009 reviewed 1,776 files and claimed there had been 29 reports of abuse that historically required action but the diocese, which includes 268 churches in south London and Kent, said there were no new cases.

The Church of England has been approached for comment.

The safeguarding team for the diocese can be contacted on 01634 560000 or out of hours on 07787 445032. You can also email janice.keen@rochester.anglican.org or greg.barry@rochester.anglican.org

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