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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation case study) Investigation Report

Annex 4: Extract from the Nolan Report

Summary of recommendations

(Those of particular relevance to our Inquiry and the evidence that we heard are highlighted in bold)

1. The Catholic Church in England and Wales should be an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse, and in responding to it. (3.1.7)

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. (3.1.8)

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. (3.1.12)

Policy statement

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. (3.1.13)


In the parish

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. (3.2.3)

6. The PCPR should be appointed by the diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator (see below) after appropriate consultation in the parish. (3.2.3)

7. PCPRs within each deanery should meet together regularly to provide each other with mutual support and help. (3.2.4)

In the diocese and religious order

8. Each bishop and religious superior should appoint a Child Protection Co-ordinator (CPC) for the diocese or religious order. Religious orders may, where appropriate, jointly appoint a CPC or they may request a diocesan CPC to act for them. In the larger dioceses and religious orders the role of CPC is likely to be a full-time responsibility. (3.2.6)

In seminaries and other training institutions

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 or religious orders. (3.2.7)

10. The Child Protection Co-ordinator and his/her team will (a) ensure that the diocese (or religious order or seminary) has implemented the national policies, principles and practices through 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. (3.2.8)

11. The CPC 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. (3.2.9)

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. (3.2.10)

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. (3.2.11)

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. (3.2.12)

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. (3.2.13)


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. (3.2.14)

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. (3.2.14)

18. The Unit should make regular reports to diocesan bishops and religious superiors on the effectiveness of arrangements in each diocese and order. (3.2.14)

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. (3.2.14)

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. (3.2.17)

NOTE: Other recommendations for the National Child Protection Unit are at numbers 22, 23, 24, 27, 44, 57, 60, 72, 81 and 82.

Creating a safe environment

21. The Church should adopt the 13 principles in the Home Office document Safe From Harm and policies from Working Together as the guiding principles to create a safe environment for children and to keep them safe from harm. (3.3.1)

22. The NCPU should issue recommended codes of conduct and practical guidance on safe working with children, and keep them under review. (3.3.6)

23. The National Unit should issue guidance on raising the awareness of children on child protection issues. (3.3.7)

24. The guidance issued by the NCPU under Recommendation 22 should cover advice for adults other than workers as to what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and what children’s expectations should be. (3.3.8)

25. The sacrament of reconciliation (confession) for children should wherever possible be administered in a setting where both priest and child can be seen but not heard. (3.3.9)

26. Each diocese should make arrangements either at diocesan or parish level to ensure that there is an independent person for children to talk with. Their contact details, together with contact details for appropriate children’s helplines, should be easily available in the parish church and other places where activity with children takes place. Some parishes may wish to appoint their own independent person. (3.3.10)

27. For all posts (paid or voluntary) involving work with children there should be clear job descriptions. The National Unit should prepare and circulate model job descriptions for a range of posts. (3.3.12)

28. For all posts (paid or voluntary) involving work with children there should be effective supervision providing an opportunity to review progress and discuss issues. (3.3.13)

Selection and appointment

29. Before taking up a post (paid or voluntary) involving work with children, those concerned should complete an application, give references, give details of any relevant previous criminal convictions and agree to a criminal record check. (3.3.15)

30. Failure to comply with Recommendation 29 must mean that the individual cannot be appointed to the post. (3.3.16)

31. References must be taken up, and the candidate must be given a personal interview. Any doubts must be pursued. (3.3.16)

32. On appointment, individuals should serve a probationary period before being confirmed in the post. (3.3.16)

33. The Church and relevant Church organisations should register with the Criminal Records Bureau and use its services as a matter of course. (3.3.17)

34. Recommendations 29 to 33 should be strictly applied when candidates are being considered for ordination, and those involved in their initial selection and in their continuing formation before ordination should err on the side of caution. (3.3.18)

35. Bishops and religious superiors should not overrule Selection Boards where reservations are expressed about a candidate’s suitability for ordination on the grounds of possible risks to children. (3.3.19)

36. It is essential that seminary rectors and others responsible for the formation and ordination of candidates should have access to all the necessary information from the selection process. (3.3.20)

37. The Church should maintain a single national database of information on all applicant candidates for ordained priesthood, the permanent diaconate, and male and female applicants for the consecrated life, and decisions should not be made by Selection Boards, bishops or religious superiors without reference to it. Successful candidates should continue to be included in the database. (3.3.20)

38. Dioceses and religious orders should themselves maintain records of checks and references on prospective staff and volunteers for the diocese or order, and such records should be consulted by other dioceses and orders as necessary. (3.3.21)

39. Paid workers and volunteers who are already in posts working with children, and who did not go through our recommended procedures or something like them on appointment, should now give details of any relevant previous criminal convictions and agree to a criminal record check. (3.3.22)

40. The idea of a National Selection Board for candidates should be considered for adoption if implementation of Recommendations 34 to 37 fails to secure uniformity of approach. (3.3.23)

41. Candidates from other countries for clerical, lay or voluntary posts should be the subject of the procedures in the preceding recommendations. (3.3.24)

42. When individuals from England and Wales go to serve elsewhere, any relevant concerns should be explicitly made known to the new employer even if they are not requested, and in all cases any relevant information requested by the new employer should be willingly and candidly provided. Where the employer is in fact based in England and Wales (e.g. a religious order), they should follow the same principles as we have recommended for use in this country. (3.3.25)


43. On moving to a new post outside the diocese, diocesan clergy, those who belong to religious orders, and lay workers should have their position reviewed and appropriate action taken if necessary. (3.3.26)

Training and awareness

44. Training and the raising of awareness is a key requirement. Child Protection Co-ordinators have a particular responsibility for ensuring that appropriate training and awareness raising is undertaken; the National Unit will have a facilitating role. (3.3.30)


45. As far as possible, records should be made at the time of a check, allegation or other event (so that the memory is fresh and accurate). (3.4.1)

46. Confidentiality of records should be scrupulously maintained. Information in them should only be released to those in positions of responsibility who have good reason to need it for the protection of children. (3.4.1)

47. Records in relation to individuals and allegations should be kept for a long time – we recommend 100 years as a minimum. (3.4.1)

Responding to allegations


48. The CPC must ensure that arrangements and trained personnel are in place to respond to allegations. (3.5.3)

49. Every diocese and religious order must have a properly composed Child Protection Management Team to deal effectively with any reports or incidents. (3.5.4)

50. The CPC should normally chair the Child Protection Management Team, which should include suitably trained child care professionals, a solicitor, a communications officer, a lay person and a priest. Other expert members may be appropriate in particular circumstances. (3.5.4)

51. The Child Protection Management Team should meet at least quarterly. Its tasks include advising and supporting the CPC, assisting with decision making, hearing what action has been taken in response to disclosures or suspicions, ensuring that the statutory agencies are involved with appropriate speed, receiving information on steps taken to remove paid or lay workers, or a priest, from post while enquiries are made, and satisfying themselves that arrangements are made to safeguard the interests of children. (3.5.5)

Disclosures and suspicions

52. Disclosures and suspicions should always be acted on swiftly. The Paramountcy Principle (that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in proceedings concerning children) applies. (3.5.6)

53. Anybody who receives a disclosure should advise the maker of it to share it with the statutory agencies and the CPC as soon as possible and should support him or her in doing so, especially if the maker of the disclosure is a child. The person receiving the disclosure should him/herself share it with the statutory agencies and the CPC if he/she believes that it will not otherwise be shared with them. (3.5.6)

54. Anybody who receives a suspicion should advise the reporter of it to share it at least with the CPC and should support him or her in doing so, especially if the reporter of the suspicion is a child. The CPC will arrange for an initial assessment and bring in the statutory agencies as necessary. The person receiving the suspicion should him/herself share it with the CPC if he/she believes that it will not otherwise be shared with them. (3.5.6)

55. The person receiving the disclosure or suspicion (or the CPC) should write to the person who has made the disclosure or reported the suspicion setting out the advice they gave and providing information about contact addresses, etc. Where the person who raised the concern is a child or vulnerable adult particular care will be needed about how, and sometimes about whether, this is done. (3.5.6)

56. When information about a disclosure or suspicion is received by the CPC, she/he should write to the person who raised the concern to indicate how the matter will be dealt with and to give an estimate of how long it may take. Subsequently they should be kept informed about what is being done, subject to legal constraints and appropriate confidentiality; in the case of a disclosure such action will be a matter for the statutory agencies. Where the person who raised the concern is a child or vulnerable adult particular care will be needed about how, and sometimes about whether, this is done. (3.5.6)

57. In due course the National Unit should issue guidance on best practice timescales for follow up action on disclosures and suspicions. (3.5.6)

58. Any information offered ‘in confidence’ (unless it is the confidentiality of the confessional which is absolute) should be received on the basis that it will be shared with the CPC and, if appropriate, the statutory agencies. (3.5.6)

59. Otherwise careful confidentiality should be observed and information only be shared on the basis of a strict ‘need to know’. (3.5.6)

60. The NCPU should draw up a policy on whistle blowing in the context of concerns about child abuse. (3.5.13)

Risk assessment

61. When there is a disclosure, the statutory authorities should be brought in straight away, without any process of filtering, to take the lead in investigating and assessing the situation. (3.5.14)

62. When there is or was only a suspicion, the CPC should arrange for an initial assessment to be made to discern simply whether there are concerns that should be acted upon. If there are any such concerns, then the statutory authorities should be brought in as in Recommendation 61. (3.5.14)

63. After an allegation has been investigated, the case may be dropped or the alleged perpetrator found not guilty. In these cases, a thorough risk assessment should be made. Desirably this assessment will be undertaken with the statutory authorities, or at least with the benefit of relevant evidence collected by them in the course of their investigations. The outcome of this risk assessment should always be acted on so that a person is not placed in any role that might put children at risk. (3.5.14)

64. The subject of a risk assessment should normally be informed of its outcome face to face. (3.5.14)

Withdrawal and leave

65. Where judged necessary by the police, social services, or the CPC and his/her Team

  • volunteers should be required to withdraw from any church situation involving children until investigations are complete;
  • any person employed by the Church should be required to take leave from their duties on full pay until investigations are complete. (3.5.15)

66. On the recommendation of the CPC and his/her Team following consultation with social services and the police, any priest or deacon should be required to take administrative leave at a location to be determined by the bishop or religious superior. (3.5.16)

67. If the concerns or allegations are about the bishop or religious superior him/herself, similar procedures should be followed. We invite bishops and religious superiors to signify their consent to such arrangements. (3.5.17)

68. If the concerns or allegations are about the CPC, they should be reported to the bishop or religious superior who will arrange for them to be handled by the CPC and Team of another diocese or religious order. Allegations about members of the child protection teams should also be handled by the CPC and team of another diocese or religious order. (3.5.19)

Past events

69. It is important to treat current allegations about abuse that took place some years ago (‘historical allegations’) in exactly the same way as allegations of current abuse. (3.5.21)

70. Bishops and religious superiors should ensure that any cases which were known of in the past but not acted on satisfactorily (‘historic cases’) should be the subject of review as soon as possible, reported to the statutory authorities wherever appropriate, and that there is appropriate follow-up action including possibly regular continuing assessment. (3.5.21)

Support for those involved

71. A ‘support person’ should be available to those who have, or may have, suffered abuse and their families, to assist them in making a complaint, to facilitate them in gaining access to information and other more specialised help, and to represent their concerns on an ongoing basis. (3.5.24)

72. Support may continue to be needed long after the allegation has been dealt with. The Church should do whatever it can to support and foster the development of support services to meet the needs, including the spiritual needs, of survivors and their families. The National Unit should compile and maintain a database of such services. (3.5.24)

73. The bishop should provide appropriate support to help parishes cope where there are allegations against the priest or a parish worker. (3.5.25)

74. A ‘support person’ should be available to those (whether clergy, paid staff or volunteer) against whom allegations are made, to provide advice, to ensure legal representation if necessary, to look to any accommodation or other needs, and to advise on other sources of help. (3.5.26)

75. The CPC should be responsible for ensuring the appointment of people to provide support to victims and alleged abusers and for overseeing that they receive appropriate training, but they should operate completely independently of the CPC and his/her team in relation to particular cases. (3.5.26)

76. A person against whom allegations are made should not be legally represented by the solicitor who is representing the diocese or religious order. (3.5.27)

Abusers who have been convicted or cautioned

77. As a general rule, clergy and lay workers who have been cautioned or convicted of an offence against children should not be allowed to hold any position that could possibly put children at risk again. The bishop or religious superior should justify any exceptions to this approach publicly (for example, by means of a letter to be read out in churches at Mass). (3.5.28)

78. If a bishop, priest or deacon is convicted of a criminal offence against children and is sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, then it would normally be right to initiate the process of laicisation. Failure to do so would need to be justified. Initiation of the process of laicisation may also be appropriate in other circumstances. (3.5.32)

79. ‘Suspending’ a priest, or declaring him ‘impeded’, will usually be an appropriate penalty for a conviction or caution for a child abuse offence. (3.5.33)

Mistakes and lapses

80. Mistakes and lapses should be acknowledged (publicly if necessary), recorded, reported (as appropriate) and rectified wherever possible. If the mistake indicates that systems need to be changed, then that should be done. (3.6.2)

Child abusers in the congregation

81. The National Unit should prepare and issue guidance on arrangements to enable the safe participation of former child abusers in the life of the Church. (3.7.1)

A wide understanding

82. A brief user-friendly leaflet should be prepared by the NCPU for wide distribution within parishes explaining the policies and practices that the Church has put in place. (3.9.1)

Further review

83. These recommendations should be reviewed after five years. (3.10.1)

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