Clergy Discipline Commission: Annual Report 2024

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York from 5 to 9 July 2024. In addition to the Order of Business, a number of GS Misc papers are now on-line, and have been provided for information but not for debate in Synod. These include the Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2024 (GS Misc 1386), extracts of which are reproduced (and clarified) below, with emphasis added.

This Twentieth Annual Report from the Commission covers its work in the year to 31 December 2023; it was submitted to the Lords Spiritual in May 2024. The Commission met on two occasions in 2023, January and May. It considered a request by a former member of the General Synod to revisit the Guidance on Penalties. It agreed that it would be premature to make any changes at this point. It resolved to examine the operation of the guidance in the future and make any amendments if necessary. [3.1]

The Commission continued to maintain and update the CDM penalties webpage on the Church of England website (displaying all penalties imposed since October 2022). The Commission received positive feedback on the fact that s.30 penalties (those that were imposed following a criminal conviction) were now being published as it was in the public interest that such notices were published online.

The Commission agreed that where the penalty was a rebuke, the notice of penalty should be taken down after one year; where the penalty was an injunction, it should be removed on the date upon which it ceased to become operative; and with a penalty of removal from office, it should be removed on the date when the cleric re-entered ministry (the same in the case of a prohibition). [3.2]

[See Clarification [1]]

It also agreed that it would be the responsibility of the cleric to make an application to the President for the notice to be removed and it clarified that there was no duty for bishops’ chaplains to monitor this. Notwithstanding, the Commission agreed that it was important that clergy were made aware of the process for removing of the notice, and clergy should be given this information both at the time the penalty was being imposed and at the point when the cleric was being re-licenced (where applicable). [3.3]

The Commission issued an updated Code of Practice in November 2023 concerning clergy returning to ministry following a period of prohibition. It outlines the assessment process and criteria to determine whether a cleric is fit to return to ministry. [3.4]

[See Clarification [2]]

An analysis of the allegations of misconduct made in 2023 are summarized in section 4, viz.

  • In 2023, 98 allegations of misconduct were made under the Measure against priests or deacons (an increase from 81 allegations in 2022). [4.1]
  • 24% of dioceses had no allegations at all (a decrease from 33% in 2022) and 10%had six or more allegations (an increase from 5% in 2022). Most of the allegations (84%) were made by complainants other than archdeacons, churchwardens or persons nominated by a PCC (compared with 69% in 2022). Archdeacons comprised the majority of ‘other’ complainants (21%). [4.2]
  • 44% of allegations were dismissed by the bishop (an increase on 33% in 2022) and no further action was taken in 16% of cases (an increase on 12% in 2022). A penalty by consent was imposed in 10% of cases (compared with 23% in 2022) and 6% were conditionally deferred (similar to 5% in 2022). [4.3]
  • There were 2 new CDM allegations involving allegations of a sexual nature towards a child (there were none in 2022). There were 9 new allegations involving misconduct towards a vulnerable adult (an increase from 7 in 2022). There were 3 police investigations involving an allegation of sexual misconduct involving either children or vulnerable adults (a decrease from 7 investigations in 2022). [4.4]
  • Following formal investigation, the President or Deputy President of Tribunals decided there was no case to answer in respect of 3 allegations (a decrease from 7 in 2022). 2 cases were referred to a bishop’s disciplinary tribunal (2 in 2022). [4.5]
  • The President of Tribunals received 60 applications under the CDM in the course of 2023 (in addition to numerous requests for extensions to deadlines for reviews and miscellaneous correspondence which were not counted). 19 applications were made for permission to make an allegation of misconduct which occurred more than 12 months ago, the majority of which were granted; only 3 were unsuccessful. This was reflective of previous years (17 applications in 2022; 8 of which were unsuccessful).
  • 31 applications were made to review decisions taken by bishops to dismiss a CDM allegation; 6 of which were reversed or remitted to the bishop for reconsideration (compared with 2 in 2022). 6 applications were made for a review of a bishop’s decision to take no further action; 2 were remitted (compared with 2 in 2022). There was one application for a review of an entry on the Archbishops’ List which was unsuccessful. There were 3 occasions when the President was consulted regarding the imposition of a penalty following conviction or a decree of divorce. [4.6]
  • There were two tribunal hearings in 2023 (compared with 5 in 2022) and one appeal before the Court of Arches (the outcome of which was a remittal to the original tribunal panel which heard the case in the first instance). [4.7]
  • There were two cases where a penalty of prohibition or removal from office was imposed under section 30(1)(a) of the Measure following conviction and sentence of imprisonment (same number in 2022); and 2 following the inclusion in a barred list or following decree of divorce or order for judicial separation (none in 2022). [4.8]
  • There were 11 suspensions in 2023, (a decrease from 15 in 2022). Of these, 3 resulted in a finding of misconduct (4 in 2022). [4.9]
  • 7 allegations were made against bishops and one allegation against an archbishop in the course of 2023; 12 were dismissed (some allegations were not decided by the end of 2022 and are therefore included in the figures for 2023). No further action was taken in one case; and no penalties by consent were imposed. One case was referred for formal investigation. [4.10]
  • The Commission asked a new question about the nature and extent of pastoral support being provided to complainants and respondents in CDM cases. The results indicate that 74 individuals were provided with pastoral support in 2023. [4.11]
  • The persons who provided this support varied considerably: archdeacons, area deans; priests independent of the CDM process; clergy known to the parties themselves; retired bishops; deans; staff from the diocesan safeguarding team for complainants; trained accompaniers; senior priests; retired archdeacons; retired bishops; lay workers; lay minsters known for good pastoral skills; diocesan safeguarding advisers from other dioceses; clergy with mental health experience; private counsellors; and retired clergy with permission to officiate. [4.12]
  • The most common arrangement was for the bishop’s chaplain to contact the parties with a named individual who was found to be acceptable and independent of the CDM process. [4.13]

The membership of the Commission in 2023 is set out in Appendix 1 of the report. The data for section 4 are contained in Appendix 2.


[1] These penalties, decision & judgments are:

[2] The Church of England web page on the Code of Practice and other guidance provides links to the following documents:

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Clergy Discipline Commission: Annual Report 2024" in Law & Religion UK, 17 June 2024,

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