The Parishes take child protection very seriously, following the instructions provided by the Diocese Child Protection Office. All people involved with children – liturgy, first communion, and so on – have been, or are in the process of being, checked by both the Diocese and the Criminal Records Bureau (commonly called CRB-checked). The parishes have their own Child Protection Representative – Mrs Charlotte Williams, who you can contact through the Parish Office.
The Nolan Review
In 2000 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor invited Lord Nolan to set a framework for best practice in the prevention of abuse and in responding to it. Lord Nolan’s final recommendation was that his report “A Programme for Action”, published in 2001, should be reviewed in five years time. The Diocese child protection processes follow this framework for best practice.
Five Years On: The Cumberlege Review
The Cumberlege Commission have spent a year in visiting, listening, thinking, talking, writing and praying in order to fulfil its task. It has been greatly helped by all those who came to see them or sent them evidence. It has met some truly remarkable people, clergy, religious and laity who live the Gospels and inspire others to do likewise. People who take safeguarding children and vulnerable adults as a serious and sensitive subject that needs to be addressed and must not be hidden and swept away.
Although much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported, and the Church is now a safer place, the Commission believes there is room for improvement. This is especially important in parishes – the heartbeat of the Church – for it is here where children, young people and vulnerable adults live.
The Commission believes there are now four priorities for moving forward:
• embedding a One Church approach to safeguarding in religious congregations and in dioceses;
• extending and adapting the Church’s policies and practices for protecting children to vulnerable adults;
• implementing procedures for investigating and managing allegations of abuse that are effective, fair and transparent; procedures that must continue to be based on the principle that the welfare of the child is paramount;
• disseminating safeguarding policies that are readily understandable, and ensuring that these are followed throughout the Church.
To achieve this they urge the Bishops and Congregational Leaders, acting in concert, to take firm leadership and to ensure these activities are adequately resourced at both national and local levels.
In its report they set out a series of recommendations to assist the Church in delivering these priorities. Among other things they propose:
• setting up a new National Safeguarding Commission at the very heart of the organisation, spanning the Bishops’ Conference and Conference of Religious. With transparent processes and an independent Chairman, authority will be strengthened to set the strategic direction, to provide a proper forum for debate and to take responsibility for ensuring national policies are followed;
• a re-balancing of the role of the Church’s central safeguarding unit, to be renamed the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service. This will have a greater emphasis on raising awareness and on identifying and sharing good practice. We are recommending changes in this unit’s management and accountability to make it genuinely a part of the Church’s mainstream ‘thinking and doing’;
• much more focus on safeguarding vulnerable adults, but not at the expense of safeguarding children;
• proposals with the aim of reforming and strengthening the Church’s procedures for investigating and managing allegations of abuse, including introducing the opportunity for review. The goal has been to ensure a process that fits with the Church’s universal laws and the concept of natural justice; a process that makes the procedures quicker, more efficient, and more transparent; a process that serves the victims of abuse and those accused of perpetrating such abuse;
• arrangements to ensure these recommendations are implemented effectively and kept under review.
The prime motivation for this report is that in the future the Catholic Church should be confident in carrying out Christ’s work and not fearful that the organisation lacks the ability to cope with those who fail.
A confident parish or religious community will ensure that vulnerable people will have peace of mind knowing that they will be cared for and loved by their Christian community.
You can read the full Report and its recommendations on the Cumberlege Commission website http://www.cumberlegecommission.org.uk or get your own copy – The Cumberlege Commission Report: “Safeguarding with Confidence” (CTS Order Ref: Do 768, ISBN 978 1 86082 462 3, Price £10 + £1 p&p) is published by the Catholic Truth Society, 40–46 Harleyford Rd, London SE11 5AY, tel: 020 7640 0042 http://www.cts-online.org.uk.