PCCs have a duty to report serious safeguarding incidents to the Charity Commission.
All PCCs are charities. Therefore, they are already required to report any Serious Incidents (both safeguarding and non-safeguarding) to the Charity Commission. This means that, from 1 January 2019, when PCCs report any Serious Incident to the Charity Commission, they should do so in accordance with the new Church of England Guidance.
The Church of England has worked with the Charity Commission to agree bespoke guidance for DBFs, PCCs and Religious Communities on how to identify and report a Serious Incident.
This page will help you understand what a serious incident is and how and when to report it.
What is considered a serious incident
The national church and the Charity Commission have issued guidelines that set out how serious incidents which affect the reputation of the church should be reported. The guidelines mention two categories of incident:
- A serious safeguarding incident
- Other serious incidents including fraud, data protection breach and other crime.
A serious safeguarding incident is described as
- an actual or alleged safeguarding incident, which results in or risks significant harm either to people linked with or employed by the charity or to its reputation.
Other Serious Incidents are described as:
- an actual or alleged adverse incidents, which result in, or risk loss, of the charity’s money or assets, damage to its property or harm to its work or reputation.
Reporting serious incidents to the Charity Commission
As trustees of the local church, the PCC is already obliged to report serious incidents but now you need to follow the new guidance which is set out here PCCs (Parochial Church Councils): Explanatory Note
The national church has agreed that serious safeguarding incidents are reported on the PCC’s behalf by the Diocesan Board of Finance. PCCs need to report other serious incidents themselves.
What you need to do
If you haven't already, at your next PCC meeting you may wish to use the template: PCC Template Delegations to formally agree on who on your PCC decides what is a serious incident and makes the report.
Serious safeguarding incidents will be ones that would involve the Diocesan Safeguarding team and would tend to be major incidents of abuse, suspected abuse or wrongdoing. If you had such an incident you should have already been in touch with the team and they will guide you through the reporting process.
Other serious incidents include fraud, theft, data protection breach, a significant loss of money and other criminal activity. We suspect that if these occurred you would also want to contact the Diocesan Office for advice and we would be able to help you through the process.
For more information about serious incident reporting and what you need to do then, please read the guidance notes on the parish resources website:
- Serious Incident Reporting
- Identifying and Reporting Safeguarding Serious Incidents to the Charity Commission: Guidance for DBFs, PCCs and Religious Communities
House of Bishops safeguarding guidance
- Responding to, Assessing and Managing Safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers which is summarised for parishes in the Parish Safeguarding Handbook section 7.
Charity Commission guidance
Lead Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser