CofE Safeguarding Data 2015-17

Today, 19 June, the Church of England issued the following Press Release on its safeguarding data, collected by dioceses over the period 2015 to 2017.

Press Release

Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17


Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses from 2015-17 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. This is the first time that trends have been analysed over a three-year period.

The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country; with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community. This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.

In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic is a person. Safeguarding is about everyone’s wellbeing and means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture; it is about valuing every person as made in God’s image.

Extracts from the safeguarding data

Key headlines

The Diocesan Self-Assessment Key Safeguarding Data 2015-2017 includes the following key headlines which are explained in more detail in the document:

  • Overall, the number of concerns or allegations reported to diocese relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults in the church and community rose by 1,092 from 2015 to 2017.
  • Of the 3287 concerns or allegations reported in 2017, less than 25% relate to concerns or allegations in respect of a church officer*. [A “church officer” is defined as anyone appointed to a Church role, lay or ordained, paid or unpaid].
  • 12% of all concerns or allegations reported in 2017 related to clergy.
  • The largest increase related to concerns or allegations in respect of adults at risk of abuse or neglect, a 78% rise over three years; concerns or allegations in relation to children and young people fell slightly in 2017.
  • The proportion of concerns or allegations which required reporting to statutory agencies has remained fairly static over the last three years at around a third of all concerns or allegations.
  • In 2017, dioceses were managing over 1,000 safeguarding agreements for people who attended a worshiping community and may pose a risk to others.

Outcomes of concerns or allegations

Of the 3287 safeguarding concerns or allegations relating to children and adults in 2017, 912 (28%) were reported to statutory agencies. The data does not presently capture individuals who have been referred to the Church by statutory partners, for example those who are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements or who have come to the attention of statutory agencies for other reasons.

In all cases, the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser will make a decision as to whether to refer to statutory agencies in accordance with legal requirements, their professional judgement, and locally agreed multi-agency thresholds for referral to such agencies. All concerns and allegations are treated very seriously according to House of Bishops’ ‘Responding’ Guidance.

Disciplinary measures were taken in 72 cases in 2017, of which 39 were under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure and 33 under lay disciplinary procedures. This is broadly similar to 2016 (76 cases) but represents a significant increase from 2015 (38 cases). In 2017, 36 individuals were referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for consideration of barring compared to 46 in 2016 and 33 in 2015 (the majority of these cases are likely to be, but not necessarily, linked to child sexual abuse).”

Note: Application of the CDM during 2017 is considered in detail in the Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2017.


“The Church of England is involved in every community and can potentially play an important role in the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people in our society. Everyone who participates in the life of the Church has a role to play in promoting a Safer Church for all.

The House of Bishops’ safeguarding policy states: “Safeguarding means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture. This means we will promote the welfare of children, young people and adults, work to prevent abuse from occurring, seek to protect those that are at risk of being abused and respond well to those that have been abused. We will take care to identify where a person may present a risk to others, and offer support to them whilst taking steps to mitigate such risks”.

The collation and analysis of this data forms a key element of quality assurance work undertaken by the National Safeguarding Team, which was formed in 2015. It will be used to inform current and future planning and improvement activity. For more information about the work of the National Safeguarding Team please visit”

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "CofE Safeguarding Data 2015-17" in Law & Religion UK, 19 June 2019,

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