COPCA Annual Report 2007

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12 June 2008

COPCA ANNUAL REPORT 2007

This is the sixth annual report from COPCA providing details relating to the work of safeguarding within the Catholic Church of England and Wales.

The annual report of 2007 further demonstrates the progress being achieved in safeguarding vulnerable people, work central to the Church’s ministry.

It shows that:

· The number of parishes with at least one Local Child Protection Representative is at its highest point ever at 2494. This is a vital volunteer role which raises awareness about safeguarding and advises and assists with parish activities to ensure that the activities for Children and Vulnerable Adults are safe.

· Nearly 19,500 further CRB checks have been made throughout the year to ensure the church’s recruitment procedures are consistent with government guidance and good practice in secular organisations.

· Child Protection Commissions, both Diocesan and Regional Religious are appropriately supported in their task of providing Bishops and Congregational Leaders with expert advice on all matters related to Safeguarding. They achieve this in no small part through the membership of Police, Social Services, NSPCC and the Probation Service.

It has been a great source of reassurance that the Church’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all its members, as demonstrated in this report, has been positively recognised by the independent review led by Baroness Cumberlege, which published “Safeguarding with Confidence – Keeping Children and Vulnerable Adults Safe in the Catholic Church” in 2007.

Total number of allegations:

In 2007 returns received for Diocesan and Religious Congregations reported that 46 allegations of abuse (of all types and relating to 44 alleged abusers including volunteers, employees, religious and clergy) were passed on to the Police. These cases involved 53 alleged victims.

Incidents occurring prior to 2007

43 of the 53 alleged victims in the reports of 2007 reported abuse taking place prior to 2007 some as long ago as 60 years previously. This included incidents where the alleged abuser is now deceased.

Incidents occurring in 2007

The 10 remaining alleged victims reported abuse occurring in 2007. 7 were allegations of sexual abuse, 4 by clergy, 2 by volunteers and 1 by an employee, 2 of emotional abuse, 1 each by a priest and a volunteer and 1 of physical abuse by a priest.

Progress Report on Actions taken by the Church in 2007

Policy requires that in all cases where allegations are received and reported to the Police, the individual is temporarily withdrawn from their role and remains so until the close of statutory investigation. Where concerns remain regarding risk, an assessment of the risk is undertaken, sometimes involving independent experts. Recommendations are made by Child Protection Commissions as to the steps required to manage the risk identified safely. In some cases this is not necessary, for example where the allegation is unfounded, or where the accused is deceased.

Of the 26 allegations of abuse against clergy in 2007 the position at the end of the year was: 5 remained temporarily withdrawn from active ministry, 3 were awaiting outcomes of a Statutory investigation; 2 were undergoing a risk assessment, 2 had been reinstated, 3 were made subject to a restriction of some sort, 1 had been dismissed and 1 had been laicised. In 9 cases no further action was required because for example, the individual was deceased.

Conclusion

The Summary of information about allegations of abuse received in 2007, and therefore reported to the Statutory Authorities, maintains our aim of accountability and transparency in maintaining a safe environment for all members of the Catholic Church.

It once again provides evidence of the sincerity and endeavour from priests, religious and lay people, so many of whom are volunteers, to engage fully with Safeguarding procedures and maintain a culture of vigilance within the Church.

Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham and Chair of the COPCA Management Board says:-

“This report presents the detailed evidence of steady and solid work. Anyone reading this report will see how much the Catholic community has achieved over these last 6 years and will be proud of that achievement. On 1st July responsibility for all this work passes to the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, which has been established following the review led by Baroness Cumberlege and its report “Safeguarding with Confidence – Keeping Children and Vulnerable Adults Safe in the Catholic Church”. The recommendations of this review build on the work of child protection in parishes, dioceses and nationally in the activities of COPCA. The central office is to be known as the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service with its duties duly refined and refocused. The work in parishes and dioceses will also come under the title of safeguarding and gradually the recommendations made in the report will be examined, refined and taken forward.”

Bill Kilgallon, OBE and Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission says:-

“Those of us who are now taking on responsibility for this work do so encouraged by the renewed affirmation from the Conference of Bishops and the Conference of Religious and inspired by the example of so many people in parishes, dioceses and religious congregations who work to ensure that the Church can practice its ministry to children, young people and vulnerable adults with confidence.”

ENDS

Notes:

A full pdf copy of the COPCA 2007 Annual Report can be found here:

http://www.copca.org.uk/