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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report

C.5: Cumberlege report and recommendations

59.The final Nolan recommendation was that progress should be reviewed after five years, which led to the Cumberlege Commission report, published in 2007.[93] In the foreword, the Cumberlege Commission chair said:

“In our report we have congratulated the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) in formulating policy. Their achievements, in such a relatively short time, have been considerable. However, much of the progress has been made at national and diocesan level; as a result COPCA’s reach has not really extended to the parishes where the supporting, training, and advising particularly in the prevention of abuse needs to happen. If awareness and a safe environment is all important – and it is – it is here in the parishes where children and vulnerable people live that we could have expected a greater emphasis and a stronger attempt to win over ‘hearts and minds’.”

60. Of the 83 Nolan recommendations, the Cumberlege review reported that 79 had been addressed either completely or partially. Amongst the four recommendations still to be addressed, one related to the development of a whistleblowing policy, and another to a cultural issue that mistakes should be dealt with openly and learning from them.

61. In total, the Cumberlege report made 72 recommendations, including that:

  • the national unit’s name should be changed to the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) to reflect its primary future role as one of coordination, advice and support in respect of the wider job of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults (Rec 3);
  • CSAS should report and be accountable to the Bishops’ Conference and Conference of Religious through the new National Safeguarding Commission (Rec 6);
  • CSAS should focus on matters including providing advice to members of the Church about safeguarding issues, overseeing and coordinating training within the Church, ensuring the safeguarding policies are accessible at all levels with an emphasis on people in parishes and producing an annual report (Rec 16);
  • the Bishops’ Conference and Conference of Religious should reaffirm their commitment to the paramountcy principle, ie the welfare of the child is the paramount concern (Rec 40); and
  • the Diocesan Child Protection Commissions should become Safeguarding Commissions responsible for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults (Rec 70).

62. Mrs Shearer left as director of COPCA and, in July 2008, Mr Adrian Child became the director of CSAS when CSAS was established following the Cumberlege recommendation. The current director is Mrs Colette Limbrick. The primary role of CSAS is to provide advice to members of the Church and lay people about safeguarding issues. CSAS develops the safeguarding training that is then utilised by the Archdiocese and ensures that national policies and procedures are up to date. While CSAS may provide advice about a case, the case remains the responsibility of the Diocese.[94]

63. Following the Cumberlege report, in 2008, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) was established to set the strategic direction of the Church’s safeguarding policy and to monitor compliance. The NCSC sets and directs the work for CSAS to implement and put into practice. Policies and procedures reviewed by CSAS are ratified by the NCSC before submission to the Bishops’ Conference and Conference of Religious.

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