A SIGNIFICANT rise in child-abuse allegations in Roman Catholic dioceses in the UK sends a “positive” message about the impact of new safeguarding measures, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) has said, in response to figures published in its eighth annual report.
The report, released on Thursday of last week, states that 79 child-related allegations were filed to diocesan and independent religious commissions in 2014 — up from 43 submissions in 2009.
The director of the NCSC, Colette Limbrick, said that the increase was “a positive step forward” for the Church, which had “not got things right” about safeguarding in the past. “I would expect more people to come forward and make allegations. . . Victims are encouraged by the understanding that it is good to disclose, and a greater confidence in the Church that their concerns will receive the appropriate response,” she said.
The RC Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Marcus Stock, who is vice-chairman of the NCSC, said that “very public issues” relating to safeguarding in the recent past had also increased awareness, and “facilitated people to come forward with allegations”.
The NCSC has confirmed the launch of a Survivors Advisory Panel to implement safeguarding policies in the RC Church. The panel will be made up of individuals who have experienced abuse, and its effectiveness will be evaluated at the end of a three-year pilot.
The acting chairman of the NCSC, Christopher Pearson, said: “The Church has learned its lessons from the past by listening to what people have to say to us; the victims are at the heart of safeguarding.”
The NCSC also announced the launch of its e-learning programme EduCare, a free training platform designed to increase awareness and to promote best practice in safeguarding. It is being made available to all Roman Catholics in England and Wales. Nearly one million people are already using EduCare in organisations such as the NHS and the YMCA.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, chaired by Justice Lowell Goddard, has brought many of these issues to light (News, 17 July). The inquiry, which began its work last month, is calling on statutory organisations in England and Wales to help identify historical sex-abuse.
The Church of England has already expressed its willingness to “be the first” in line, should the inquiry investigate institutions one at a time (News, 27 February).
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who speaks for the Bishops on safeguarding, told the General Synod in February that the Church was committed to working with the inquiry, but that it would not be setting up a separate redress panel, since this could “create confusion and difficulty for survivors coming forward”.
Last month, however, the Archbishop of Canterbury promised a new investigation into sex abuse, if the Goddard Inquiry did not begin looking into the Church within six months.