Press Release: Cautious welcome for C of E Past Cases Review from The Jill Saward Organisation

5 October 2022

The director of The Jill Saward Organisation (JSO), Gavin Drake, has this afternoon given a cautious welcome to the publication of the National Safeguarding Report published by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Steering Group, following the conclusion of the second Past Cases Review (PCR2).

Gavin Drake was married to Jill Saward, victim of the infamous 1986 “Ealing Vicarage Rape”, until her sudden death from a stroke in January 2017. He established the JSO to continue her work campaigning for victims and survivors of sex-based violence. He has spoken out about safeguarding failures in the Church of England, including at the General Synod, which he was elected to in 2021.

“The Church of England should be congratulated for carrying out this work and doing so publicly. The PCR2 is an exemplar project and I thank all the independent reviewers who carried out the work and, more importantly, the 65 survivors and victims who spoke to the reviewers, re-telling their stories and experiences to ensure that lessons can be learned.

“The National Safeguarding Report paints a picture of significant cultural change in safeguarding practice within the Church of England in recent decades. That is to be welcomed. But the report also highlights areas of continuing concern.

“The report indicates that the independent reviewers working across dioceses, cathedrals and church offices had identified 383 new safeguarding cases relating to children and vulnerable adults. These are not necessarily ‘new’ allegations, as the report also makes clear that this figure includes cases ‘which the reviewers felt needed further action based on present day safeguarding practice standards.’”

Gavin Drake continued: “This national report highlights further concern about the operation of the existing Clergy Discipline Measure, and I look forward to working with colleagues on the General Synod to bring about change through the new Clergy Conduct Measure, when the first draft is published in time for next February’s Synod meeting.

“What the report doesn’t show, however, is how the Church responds to complaints about failures in safeguarding practice. Until there is a body which victims, survivors, complainants and respondents can turn to when things go wrong, mistakes will continue to be made – mistakes which cannot, at present, be challenged.

“This national overview report paints a national picture, drawing on the lessons contained in individual diocesan reports. The Jill Saward Organisation will study these local reports and prepare a fuller response and analysis in due course.”

Gavin Drake added: “the publication of this report is likely to be extremely painful for some people who have experienced abuse – whether it was within the Church or outside it. I would urge all such people to report to the appropriate authorities to ensure that allegations are investigated, perpetrators brought to book, and victims and survivors receiving the help and support that they need.”