Safeguarding – Elliott Review progress report

Today, 31 March 2017, the Church of England issued the following Press Notice on the progress report, Elliott Review – one year on, which recommended a range of safeguarding proposals for the Church, particularly in the areas of handling disclosures and accountability.


Elliott Review progress report

 The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has today published a progress report, one year on from the Elliott Review, which recommended a range of safeguarding proposals for the Church, particularly in the areas of handling disclosures and accountability.

The independent review, by safeguarding consultant Ian Elliott, was commissioned in 2015, to look at lessons learnt in the case of ‘Joe’, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse. He reported that he had disclosed his abuse over a number of years to different people on separate occasions, both within and outside the Church and that he had not received a response which he felt adequately addressed his needs. The report, which was received by the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, as a senior woman in the Church, at the request of the survivor, made a range of recommendations.

The Church has issued an unreserved apology to Joe and on publication of the report last year, said it was fully committed to implementing the recommendations. The responses to these include: Strengthening of the training for handling disclosures with a bespoke module for bishops and senior church staff; an independent audit of safeguarding in all dioceses, due to be completed at the end of the year; further plans to work more closely with survivors to learn from their experience.

The full recommendations and responses can be read in the Progress Report.

Bishop Sarah said: “I continue to be absolutely committed to ensuring that the implementation of these recommendations is carried out at all levels of the Church, I know this was the promise of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he read the Report. I have had personal contact with Joe throughout the year and am aware of the ongoing suffering and pain he has endured as a survivor of this terrible abuse. As a Church we must do better in our response to all survivors and I am encouraged that by working through the implications of this review we are already starting to see a more unified approach to safeguarding training and awareness. Practical changes resulting from any review are always important but these must be accompanied by a hearts and minds sea change so we respond with compassion to all who come forward. I know for Joe progress may not be fast enough but I am reassured by that we are moving in the right direction.”


On 15 March 2016, The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, at the request of the survivor, responded to the findings and recommendations of the Elliott Review. This Press Release provided links to the background and full recommendations to the Review, here.

At the time we commented in CofE abuse inquiry findings – Elliott Review.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Safeguarding – Elliott Review progress report" in Law & Religion UK, 31 March 2017,

One thought on “Safeguarding – Elliott Review progress report

  1. There is (or appears to be) a continuing and worrying assumption in this progress report that someone who alleges, or makes a complaint of, sexual abuse by a member of the clergy (or anyone else within the Church of England) is to be regarded as a ‘survivor’. Nowhere in the report is there any recognition that the allegation may be false or that, while treating it sensitively and seriously, it may require to be investigated. Thus, in para 7 it is said that the “first response” to a survivor of abuse within the Church should be the issuing of an apology. And at para 6 (responding to claims for compensation), it is said that “Every effort should be made to avoid an adversarial approach, placing emphasis on the provision of compensation as an aid to healing and closure for the survivor.” But an adversarial approach will be inevitable if there is doubt or concern as to the truth or reliability of the allegation, otherwise this is a recipe for encouraging false and spurious claims.

    There is no reference in the progress report (as I suggest there should have been) to the report of Sir Richard Henriques into the Met Police’s ‘Operation Midland’ (dated 31 October 2016 – i.e. post the Elliott Review Report) and his recommendations that instructions “to believe a ‘victim’s’ account should cease” (para 1.35), and that “throughout the investigative and judicial process those who make complaints should be referred to as ‘complainants’ and not as ‘victims'” (para 1.20). As Sir Richard says (para 1.35), there are fundamental flaws in the ‘belief’ policy, “not least the dreadful consequences of false complaints upon the innocent.” And in para 1.39 he points out that prominent people (and this could include prominent people within the Church) “are vulnerable to compensation seekers, attention seekers, and those with mental health problems”, adding “Deceased persons are particularly vulnerable as allegations cannot be answered.” In relation to this last point, it will be instructive to see what advice is given by Lord Carlile when he reports on the George Bell case later this year, and how the National Safeguarding Team respond to that advice.

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