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The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency ‘CSSA’ has been established to develop the highest calibre regime of safeguarding within the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Set up in early 2021, the CSSA is an agent of the Bishops’ Conference but is separate from it and has been established as a trading company with independence in its day-to-day operation, to be under the responsibility of a management board.


In October 2019, an independent review of the safeguarding structures and arrangements within the Catholic Church in England and Wales was set in motion. Given the significant changes in the social and political environment since the work done by Lord Nolan in 2001 and by the Cumberlege Commission in 2007, along with the greater numbers involved in safeguarding in the Church, it was felt that such a review was clearly overdue.

The need for change was fuelled by the awareness of those who had suffered due to the failings in existent structures and the desire to prevent future hurt. Case studies showed that even when abuse was known, the Church was slow to address it and, in some instances, ignored it. Repeated failures betrayed the moral purpose of the Church and greatly reduced its credibility and moral standing. Change was clearly needed. The review led by Ian Elliott, sought in particular to listen and learn from those who had experienced abuse ultimately making a series of proposals and recommendations to address these failings and to reshape the safeguarding provision in the Catholic Church going forward. The recommendations of this report, along with those made by the separate Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) were wholly accepted by the Bishops conference in November of 2020.

Central to these recommendations was the replacement of the then existent national safeguarding bodies: the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) and Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) with three newly constituted entities:

  • The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency: A new professional standards body with regulatory powers.
  • A dedicated entity regarding safeguarding for Religious Life Groups, which are more formally defined as Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (ICLSAL) covering religious orders and congregations.
  • A National Tribunal to address the canonical matters connected to clergy discipline and canonical offences, exercising jurisdiction exclusively in the canonical forum but extending to preliminary case evaluation and beyond.

This new model is built on a ‘One Church’ strategy to safeguarding – a commitment across all the dioceses and Religious Life Groups to be One Church when it comes to safeguarding, with all organisations working to a common standards-based approach and transparency and accountability in the fulfilment and upholding of these standards.

The recommendations of the Reviews have laid a clear way forward and the Church is committed to the changes that will ensure that safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales will be transformed.

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency seeks to ensure that through this revision and restructuring, real improvement can be achieved.

Functions of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency ‘CSSA’


The CSSA holds a regulatory function extending to all dioceses and Religious Life Groups. It monitors compliance by Church bodies with the safeguarding standards adopted by the Church, using its own independent audit and review function and is empowered to undertake its role as a regulator through the freely entered into contractual relationships between it and the Church bodies it provides a service to. Through this, the CSSA has the powers to ensure that each Church body partnered with it, is complying with the published standards.

These powers include:

  • Mandatory audit and follow up activity by the CSSA, with the publication of audits at the sole discretion of the CSSA
  • Escalation and intervention in the event of practice not reaching agreed standards
  • Investigation into the handling of complaints that have exhausted local processes

In addition to its regulatory work, the CSSA offers a number of other services. These include:

  • Managing the Catholic Church DBS Registered Body and providing advice to the Catholic Church of England and Wales on risk and DBS checks
  • Providing policy and procedure to support the professional standards to which its partners are to operate
  • Offering informal advice on case management
  • A formal case consultation service by the way of a Case Consultation Committee, which will be a sub-group of the CSSA.
  • Development of training materials and the delivery of national training

The Board

Mr Nazir Afzal OBE

Bishop Paul Mason
Non Executive Director

Sr Frances Orchard SJ
Non Executive Officer

Amanda Ellingworth
Non-Executive Director

Wesley Cuell
Non-Executive Director

Dr Jenny Holmes
Non-Executive Director

Carol Lawrence
Non-Executive director

Stephen Ashley
Interim Chief Executive Officer

Survivor engagement

We recognise that to provide an effective safeguarding service, it is imperative that the voice of those that have been harmed by abuse through their involvement with the Church, is heard and learnt from. We respect and value survivors and victims of abuse, as people with opinions, and a depth of knowledge and wisdom drawn from their own unique, personal experiences.

We are committed to approaching our engagement in a way that is best suited to the unique person. 

All engagement will be done with humility, compassion and empathy in the realisation that there is much to learn. It will be approached in a way that reflects survivors’ needs, and at all times their wellbeing will be central. 

The CSSA will aim to build appropriate, trusting relationships, through both conversations on a one-to-one or small group basis, as well as through the more formal structure of a survivor reference panel. 

Reporting Abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the safeguarding office for your diocese or religious congregation, or directly to the Police. 

If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to the safeguarding office in your diocese; (the relevant Diocesan safeguarding office can be located using the interactive map on the links page of the CSSA website – contact details will be shown when you click on the relevant area of the map).

You can also contact us by telephoning 0207 901 1920 or via email at Any referrals made directly to the CSSA will be immediately passed to the local safeguarding office for further action as appropriate.  Where appropriate, the CSSA will refer matters directly to the statutory authorities.

Please note that neither the CSSA nor the safeguarding offices in England and Wales provide an emergency or 24 hour service.


39 Eccleston Square

020 7901 1920