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 •Ch. 1:Introduction
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 Nolan Review - Final Report

Our complete recommendations (Recommendations 1 to 20)

Safeguarding children from abuse

Background

3.1.1 Little information is available about the true extent of child abuse in Britain. Official data only records what is brought to the attention of the authorities. For example, child protection registers record the numbers of children (currently about 30,000) for whom the likelihood of future significant harm is high. They do not record those who are known to have been subjected to maltreatment in the past, and therefore give no estimate of prevalence or incidence.

3.1.2 As regards sex abuse, a Home Office study in 1995 showed that if the Sex Offenders Register had been in effect since 1953, 125,000 offenders would have to register, 25,000 of these for life. Most incidents are not reported and only a minority of reported cases result in prosecution. We do know, however, that offenders come from every social group and category. Most, but not all, sex offenders are male. The majority of offences are committed by individuals known to the child and often by the family. 80% of offences against children are perpetrated in their home or that of the perpetrator. Girls are more likely to be abused within the family, boys outside. Histories of individual offending can range between a single event within or outside the family to ongoing abuse over many years. Emotional loneliness, brought about by an inability to make close adult relationships, combined with a tendency to meet emotional needs sexually and distorted perceptions of and interest in children can increase the risk of someone offending. The availability and use of pornography and/or drugs and alcohol may dis-inhibit potential perpetrators. Add a context in which the perpetrator feels he/she will not be caught and the likelihood of offending is even more increased.

3.1.3 Knowledge of and concern about child abuse in Britain grew considerably during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1994, following a consultation, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales received a working party report Child Abuse: Pastoral and Procedural Guidelines (referred to throughout this report as the 1994 Guidelines). This was commended by the bishops to dioceses and religious orders. In 1996, another Church working party produced a further report on victims and survivors, Healing the Wound of Child Sexual Abuse. In the meantime, public knowledge and concern about child abuse in the UK was continuing to grow. It was emphasised in 1994 that the Guidelines would need to be kept under review in the light of increasing knowledge about child abuse in general and the effectiveness of the procedures in particular. The Church began an internal review of the arrangements in dioceses some two years ago. In addition, however, a number of high profile cases concerning priests have focused public attention on the extent of the Church's commitment and the adequacy of its arrangements. It is against this background that our review has been conducted.

The range of abuse

3.1.4 Much of the publicity about child abuse concentrates on sexual abuse, but there is also emotional and physical abuse and neglect. (We are also aware that the internet has enabled different manifestations of abuse to develop.) Our report covers all aspects.

Child abuse is a great evil

3.1.5 Child abuse is a great evil. All abuse can leave deep scars on victims and their families. It is particularly abhorrent when people in a position of trust and responsibility abuse a child. It is most abhorrent when that position of trust is that of a member of the clergy or a lay church worker.

The care of children is at the forefront of the teachings of Christ

3.1.6 In our society we expect all organisations that have responsibility for the care of children to have arrangements that protect those children and promote their welfare. The care of children is at the forefront of the teachings of Christ and is, therefore, one of the primary responsibilities of all members of the Church led by their priests, bishops and religious superiors. Because of the Church's particular message and the position it holds, it seems to us to be of great importance that it should be an example of excellence, which others will look to and want to follow. To achieve this depends on good policies and effective management and people, to being alert to what is going on in the world that relates to the Church's mission and to being open to advice and guidance. A vigorous approach on these lines will enable the Church to become a significant part of the solution to the evil of child abuse in our society.

3.1.7 What we have heard leaves us in no doubt that there is a great desire among the huge majority of members of the Church, both clerical and lay, to achieve this result. We have also been impressed by the work that many in the Church are already doing to bring this about. We wish to recognise specifically the many hours of confidential pastoral care and support that has been given by clergy and religious to victims of abuse up and down the country to assist them in their journey of recovery. Our report, therefore, is based on this foundation:

Recommendation 1. The Catholic Church in England and Wales should become an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse and in responding to it.

3.1.8 The 1994 Guidelines concentrated on the response to allegations of child abuse. In the present climate, much more emphasis is placed on child protection and it is worthy of note that almost all dioceses have in fact adopted policies and practices that are designed to prevent abuse occurring in the first place. Whilst the proper handling of allegations is important, it is much more important that the opportunity for abuse does not occur because awareness is high and an effective regime of good practice is in place, and is known to be so.

Recommendation 2. The top priority is to have preventative policies and practices operating effectively in parishes, dioceses and religious orders that will minimise the opportunity for abuse.

3.1.9 It is necessary, however, to face the reality that no organisation which has dealings with children can eliminate the risk of child abuse completely. It is therefore important to complement prevention policies with a clear understanding by those in positions of responsibility that abuse of their position in any way will inevitably have the most serious consequences for them.

Application to lay workers as well as clergy

3.1.10 There is an emphasis in the 1994 Guidelines on the position of members of the clergy. That is understandable because of the unique character of the priesthood and the central role that priests play in the life of the Church. For the same reason, of course, the occasions on which priests have been found guilty of abusive behaviour have been the source of the greatest scandal. But, as we know, child abuse occurs in a variety of settings in the home and in organisations, predominantly where some relationship has been established. The potential for abuse is therefore a risk in any organisation or setting where children are a part. So, what is necessary, and what we are recommending, are arrangements that apply to lay workers as fully as to clergy, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.

A unified approach

3.1.11 It is crucial that the policies and practices we recommend are implemented throughout the Church and are, therefore, adopted both by bishops and their dioceses and by religious superiors and their orders. As we recommend later there will need to be monitoring of what is being done and effective action to remedy the situation if that is necessary. This is not as straightforward as it may sound. Whilst it is true that the Church is a hierarchical organisation, the common belief that, for example, the Archbishop of Westminster has complete authority over matters affecting the different dioceses in England and Wales is not the case. Each diocesan bishop exercises his power autonomously though not in a totally independent manner. He must act in accordance with the norms of canon law, and in communion with the whole episcopal college and with its head, the Pope. In canon law, every diocesan bishop has equivalent status, and only the Holy See has the power to control and limit the exercise of the bishops' power. Religious orders are governed by their own specific law and constitutions and, in general, the diocesan bishop has no capacity to intervene in their internal affairs. He does, however, have a certain authority over individual members of those orders and congregations whom he has given permission to exercise a pastoral ministry in his diocese.

3.1.12 However, we are confident that, by acting together in the best interests of children and of the Church, bishops and religious superiors can put in place arrangements which are effective and can restore confidence in the Church's approach. The essence of these arrangements is summarised in our third recommendation:

Recommendation 3. The whole Church in England and Wales and the individual bishops and religious superiors should commit themselves to:

  • a single set of policies, principles and practices based on the Paramountcy Principle, the 13 principles of Safe From Harm, and the revised Working Together guidelines;
  • effective and speedy implementation in parishes, dioceses and religious orders, including a comprehensive programme to raise awareness and train those involved in implementing child protection policies;
  • an organisational structure in the parish, supported by the Child Protection Co-ordinator and his/her Teams at the diocese and in religious orders;
  • a national capability (the National Child Protection Unit) which will advise dioceses and orders, co-ordinate where necessary, and monitor and report on progress; and
  • the provision of adequate resources to support these arrangements.

A clear and shared policy

3.1.13 Active implementation of good practice on preventing abuse and responding to allegations of abuse is the key. But this action needs to be related to a clear and shared policy.
Recommendation 4. The Church should adopt this policy statement:

The Church recognises the personal dignity and rights of children towards whom it has a special responsibility and a duty of care. The Church, and individual members of it, undertake to do all in their power to create a safe environment for children and to prevent their physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The Church authorities will liaise closely with statutory agencies to ensure that any allegations of abuse are promptly and properly dealt with, victims supported and perpetrators held to account.

The structures required to safeguard children from abuse

3.2.1 Carrying through our recommendations on preventing child abuse and responding to allegations depends critically on the Church being an effective and aware organisation at every level: the parish, the diocese and religious order, and nationally. This section summarises our proposals on structures.

The parish

3.2.2 It is principally in the parish that children are directly involved in church activities: in services, at children's catechism, in youth clubs, and so on. Consequently it is here that awareness needs to be at its highest, that policies and prevention strategies need to be clearly understood and that knowledge of what to do when allegations are made needs to be widespread. What we say about arrangements at other levels is designed primarily to support parishes.

3.2.3 In some dioceses individual lay people in parishes have taken on a special responsibility for child protection matters: ensuring that policies are known and understood, that awareness is raised, and that principles are worked through into everyday practice. This is clearly an important responsibility. We understand that members of the Church have willingly come forward to do this knowing that they will be supported by their parish priest, by the local members of the Church and by wider structures. To our mind, this indicates the desire that there is in many parishes to ensure that the Church is a safe organisation for children. We believe that every parish should have such a person (we call them the Parish Child Protection Representative). To ensure independence and transparency we also recommend that these parish representatives should be appointed by the diocesan Child Protection Coordinator (see below), following appropriate consultation within the parish.

Recommendation 5. A lay Parish Child Protection Representative (PCPR) should be appointed in every parish and have these general responsibilities: to ensure that diocesan policies and procedures are known and followed, that awareness is raised, and that principles are worked through into everyday practice.

Recommendation 6. The PCPR should be appointed by the diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator (see below) after appropriate consultation in the parish.

3.2.4 The Parish Child Protection Representative does not need to be full-time, nor to be a professional or an expert. He/she will, of course, need training but will also be able to draw on experts for support. We believe there may also be particular value for PCPRs if those within each deanery form a network which meets together regularly to provide each other with mutual support and help and to make collective arrangements for such matters as training.

Recommendation 7. PCPRs within each deanery should meet together regularly to provide each other with mutual support and help.

The diocese

3.2.5 As noted earlier, the 1994 Guidelines advised each diocese to identify a representative or 'delegate' to 'attend to issues of child abuse'. In fact these delegates have often taken on a wide range of responsibilities in relation to child protection, and are usually known as Child Protection Co-ordinators. We welcome the fact that each diocese has a diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator (CPC). They will need to be appointed by and directly responsible to the bishop, and to have his full confidence and support as well as that of other senior clergy and lay people. They will be responsible for the effective implementation of policies and practice throughout the diocese (including, if necessary, in any lay organisations or communities there may be in the diocese). They will be the principal line of contact with the statutory agencies (social services and the police) and in particular the statutory Area Child Protection Committees. They will themselves be the first line of support for the Parish Child Protection Representatives already recommended.

The religious order

3.2.6 Members of religious orders will be subject to the policies and arrangements of dioceses to which they are seconded. Nonetheless, if the whole Church in England and Wales is to have a fully effective approach to child protection, it is essential that religious orders, whether or not their work normally brings them into contact with children, also appoint Child Protection Co-ordinators. This is because there can never be a guarantee that members of any religious order will not have contact with children, and their particular status will make that a privileged relationship. These religious order CPCs will take on a comparable role to that of the diocesan CPCs in ensuring awareness and appropriate systems and arrangements within their religious orders. For many religious orders, particularly the smaller ones, it will be entirely appropriate for them to appoint a CPC jointly. Alternatively, they might prefer, either individually or jointly, to request that the duly appointed diocesan CPC act for them. Where they are different, there needs to be very close liaison between diocesan and religious order Child Protection Co-ordinators.

Recommendation 8. Each bishop and religious superior should appoint a Child Protection Co-ordinator for the diocese or religious order. Religious orders may, where appropriate, jointly appoint a CPC or request a diocesan CPC to act for them. In the larger dioceses and religious orders the role of Child Protection Co-ordinator is likely to be a full-time responsibility.

The seminary and other formation houses

3.2.7 Seminaries and some other formation houses (i.e. institutions where candidates for the priesthood or permanent diaconate are trained) are independent of the diocesan and religious order structure but must not fail to be covered by appropriate arrangements. We recommend that they should appoint CPCs, adopt policies and implement guidelines in the same way as we set out for dioceses. They may wish to request a diocesan or religious order CPC to act for them.

Recommendation 9. Seminaries and other institutions where candidates for the priesthood or permanent diaconate are trained should also appoint Child Protection Co-ordinators and implement child protection arrangements as prescribed in this report for dioceses and religious orders.

The Child Protection Co-ordinator and his/her team

3.2.8

Recommendation 10. The Child Protection Co-ordinator and his/her team will
(a) ensure that the diocese (or religious order or seminary) has implemented guidelines, based on Safe From Harm and Working Together, to prevent abuse, and regularly reviews its performance;
(b) help parishes and others in the diocese (or religious order or seminary) apply the guidelines - by giving advice on how to apply them and how to make the necessary contacts and checks, by facilitating training and awareness events, and so on; and
(c) oversee arrangements for responding to allegations and for risk assessment as described in Section 3.3.

3.2.9 The Child Protection Co-ordinator does not need to be professionally qualified. Nor does she/he necessarily need to be employed full-time on child protection matters, though we believe that in many cases this may be desirable and in some of the larger dioceses and religious orders it will be necessary, at least for the present until fully effective arrangements are in place throughout the diocese or religious order.

Recommendation 11. The Child Protection Co-ordinator does not need to be a child care professional but he/she must have the time, resources, training and supporting arrangements (including access to professional support) to do the job properly.

We are aware of arrangements in one part of the country where three dioceses have collaborated to fund a child care professional to support them, especially in the area of training and consistency. This seems to work well, and we commend these cross-diocesan arrangements. They may be particularly useful in more rural parts of the country although we think it important that each diocese has its own CPC. We have also been told of a very successful arrangement in one diocese where a CPC is mentored by a child care expert. We believe that CPCs generally would benefit from such an arrangement.

3.2.10 We also stress that it is essential that very close liaison is maintained between the CPC, the statutory agencies and the statutory Area Child Protection Committees. (Each local social services authority has an Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC) which means that in some dioceses there will be a significant number of ACPCs to deal with; however, the benefit of close working relations is likely to be large.)

Recommendation 12. The CPC and his/her team should take steps to form and maintain close liaison with the statutory agencies and the statutory Area Child Protection Committees.

3.2.11 So far CPCs have invariably been priests. As we have said it is most important that they have the full confidence and support of the bishop (or religious superior) and parish priests, but we do not consider it essential that they should be priests themselves. It is also important that CPCs have the confidence of victims, the victims' families and friends, the statutory agencies and the wider community; this will be achieved by appointing the best person for the job without regard for whether they are female or male, clerical or lay.

Recommendation 13. What matters is that the CPC is the right person for the job irrespective of whether they are clerical or lay, female or male.

3.2.12 We do not believe that there is a single blue-print for the structures a diocese should have in place under the Co-ordinator. However,

Recommendation 14. We commend arrangements (based on one diocese) where there is an overarching Child Protection Policy Team having the oversight of further teams focusing on (i) implementation and training, (ii) response to allegations and risk assessment, and (iii) pastoral care.

The Child Protection Policy Team is chaired by the Co-ordinator, and includes clerical and lay members of the diocese, social services, police and legal representatives and experts on child abuse. An illustrative chart of these arrangements is at Annex E.

3.2.13 So that progress can be seen and reviewed we believe that each CPC should make an annual report to the bishop and diocese (or to the religious superior and order) on actions taken and progress made during the year. These reports should be copied to the National Child Protection Unit (see below).

Recommendation 15. Each CPC should make an annual report to the bishop (or religious superior) on actions taken and progress made during the year. Copies of these reports should be sent to the National Child Protection Unit.

Nationally

3.2.14 There is at present an annual meeting of the diocesan CPCs but no permanent arrangement at national level. We believe that there is a further essential element of support to parishes and to diocesan and religious order co-ordinators that needs to be put in place. This is a compact national facility, which we call a National Child Protection Unit.

Recommendation 16. A National Child Protection Unit (NCPU) should be set up. It would advise the Conferences of Bishops and Religious on child protection policies and principles, give expert advice and moral support to dioceses and religious orders, collect and disseminate good practice, hold databases of training facilities and other useful information, and maintain the central confidential database of information (see Recommendation 37). The Unit would liaise with the statutory agencies (including the Criminal Records Bureau) at national level, with professional bodies and leading charities in the field and with other churches.

Recommendation 17. The Unit should also collect data, monitor that effective arrangements are implemented in dioceses and religious orders, and seek to secure improvements where necessary.

The Unit should bring any apparent failure in diocesan or religious order arrangements immediately to the attention of the bishop or religious superior and make regular reports to diocesan bishops and religious superiors on the effectiveness of arrangements in each diocese and order. It should also make annual reports, which should be published, to the Bishops' Conference and the Conference of Religious on the position overall.

Recommendation 18. The Unit should make regular reports to diocesan bishops and religious superiors on the effectiveness of arrangements in each diocese and order.

Recommendation 19. The Unit should make a public annual report to the Bishops' Conference on the overall position in dioceses, and a public annual report to the Conference of Religious on the position in religious orders.

3.2.15 Amongst early tasks for the Unit should be the preparation and dissemination of good practice on job descriptions and advice on databases and information gathering, including securing appropriate software.

3.2.16 The right size for the Unit will need to be determined in the light of experience, but we believe that it will need to be headed by a recognised child protection expert (preferably someone with knowledge of the manipulative tactics of offenders and the impact of those on child victims and relevant adults) and to have a small permanent staff and the resources to maintain databases, exercise its monitoring function, procure external advice from time to time, etc. It will need to be properly funded.

3.2.17 The Unit will itself need strong support from the bishops and religious superiors, and we believe that, as with some other central institutions of the Church in England and Wales, it should be separate from the secretariat of the Bishops' Conference, and one of the bishops should have particular responsibility for it. We also believe that the Unit will benefit greatly if it has a standing advisory (or reference) group with which it can consult and discuss issues, and which will include professionals in the field and representatives of the relevant statutory agencies.

Recommendation 20. The Unit should have a standing advisory (or reference) group with which it can consult and discuss issues, and which will include professionals in the field, representatives of the relevant statutory agencies and other major stakeholders.

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