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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report

Contents

B.4: Reports of sexual abuse to the Charity Commission

Background

26. Each of the 22 dioceses in England and Wales is a charity registered with the Charity Commission.[1] Charities are responsible for ensuring that “the charity has proper systems in place to mitigate the risk of child sexual abuse and deal with it properly if a report is made to them of such abuse”.[2] As such, the Charity Commission does not investigate individual allegations of child sexual abuse but acts as the regulator “to hold charities to account for wrongdoings”.[3]

27. A charity’s trustees must act “exclusively in the charity’s best interests and “avoid exposing the charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk”.[4] Avoiding exposure to reputation does not mean that a trustee should “sweep a child sexual abuse allegation under the carpet”.[5] A charity’s reputation would be best protected by demonstrating that any failures that happened were dealt with responsibly.

Serious incident reports

28. Allegations of child sexual abuse are considered by the Charity Commission to fall within the definition of a ‘serious incident’, which requires the matter to be reported to the Charity Commission.[6]

29. In relation to the Roman Catholic Church, the Charity Commission told us that between April 2014 and July 2019 there had been:

  • 203 serious incident reports relating to child sexual abuse;
  • a further 13 serious reports which were “classified as notification of IICSA interest” by charities connected with the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales;[7] and
  • an additional five cases where it was not possible to say whether the serious incident report related to child sexual abuse.

30. The Charity Commission reviewed the numbers of serious incidents (of any category, not just relating to child sexual abuse) reported to it by the 22 Catholic diocesan trusts.[8]

Table 2: Serious incident reports against diocesan trusts recorded by the Charity Commission between April 2014 and July 2019[9]

Name Recorded reported serious incidents (RSIs) of any category
Arundel and Brighton Diocesan Trust 4
Birmingham Diocesan Trust 16
Brentwood Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 6
Cardiff Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 0
Clifton Diocese 3
East Anglia Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 0
Roman Catholic Diocese of Hallam Trust 1
Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle 6
The Lancaster Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 0
Leeds Diocesan Trust 3
Liverpool Roman Catholic Archdiocesan Trust 5
Menevia Diocesan Trust 0
MIddlesbrough Diocesan Trust 8
Northampton Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 6
Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham 10
Plymouth Diocesan Trust 19
Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 6
The Salford Diocesan Trust 2
Shrewsbury Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 0[iicsa-references:{"title":"","url":"","text":"On 9 January 2020, the Charity Commission informed the Inquiry that the Diocese of Shrewsbury had in fact made eight serious incident reports (CYC000418)."}]
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark 3
The Westminster Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust 5
Wrexham Diocesan Trust 0

Source: CYC000417_005

31. Some of the dioceses had made no serious incident reports at all, which was “of concern” to the Charity Commission.[10] Given the number of complaints of child sexual abuse across the Church, it is not clear why so few serious incidents were recorded. Mrs Edina Carmi, an independent safeguarding consultant, was commissioned by the Inquiry to undertake a review of a number of recent diocesan and religious safeguarding files. She found there was “a real confusion” about the circumstances in which the Charity Commission needed to be notified of a serious incident.[11]

32. The Charity Commission has recorded its own concerns about under-reporting of serious incidents across the charity sector as a whole.[12] The apparent under-reporting of serious incidents by the diocesan trusts means that scrutiny might not be brought to bear when it is needed. On the basis of the evidence we heard, it is difficult to say whether this is because there is a reluctance by diocesan trustees to report these matters or for some other reason. The Charity Commission plays an important role in ensuring the Church’s trustees have appropriate procedures in place for the handling of allegations and the management of risk to children. It is the responsibility of the Church and the Charity Commission to ensure that trustees report both recent and historic allegations of child sexual abuse to the Charity Commission.

References

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