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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

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

A.2: Scope of the investigation

7. The scope for this investigation is:[1]

“3. As case studies, the Inquiry will investigate:

3.2. the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and, consider, in particular:

3.2.1. the nature and extent of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Archdiocese;

3.2.2. the nature and extent of any failures of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese, law enforcement agencies, prosecuting authorities,and/or other public authorities or statutory agencies to protect children from such abuse;

3.2.3. the adequacy of the response of the Catholic Church, including through the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, and the response of any other relevant institutions to allegations of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Archdiocese;

3.2.4. the extent to which the Catholic Church, including through the Archdiocese, sought to investigate, learn lessons, implement changes and provide support and reparations to victims and survivors, in response to:

a) allegations of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Archdiocese;

b) criminal investigations and prosecutions, civil litigation and other complaints relating to child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the Diocese;

c) investigations, reviews or inquiries into child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese;

d) disciplinary measures taken against clergy; and/or

e) other internal or external reviews or guidance.”

8. To assist its examination of the institutional response, the Inquiry selected the cases of four individuals: Samuel Penney, James Robinson, Father John Tolkien and RC-F167. Penney and Robinson were former priests convicted of multiple offences of child sexual abuse. Father Tolkien and RC-F167 have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse but there have been no criminal or civil court findings made against them. These four cases enabled the Inquiry to consider the approach of the Archdiocese both before and after the Nolan and Cumberlege reports and to consider the circumstances in which the Archdiocese had contact with CSAS (and its predecessor, the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA)).

9. In 2018, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Archbishop Bernard Longley, commissioned three reviews into different aspects of safeguarding within the Archdiocese:

9.1. an examination of past cases for the Archdiocese of Birmingham,[2] conducted by Jan Pickles OBE;

9.2. the parish review[3] conducted by Jan Pickles OBE, regarding the attitudes and abilities of clerical and lay members of parishes to contribute to the wider diocesan safeguarding agenda; and

9.3. an independent audit of the safeguarding arrangements within the Archdiocese, which was undertaken by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and was published in October 2018.[4]

These reviews concluded that, while there had been improvements in the way that the Archdiocese handled allegations of child sexual abuse, its current safeguarding team was overstretched and inadequately supervised. The SCIE review also found that there remains a perception that the Church still does not understand the impact of abuse on victims and their families.

10. One consequence of the reviews is that the Archdiocese has appointed an interim safeguarding strategic lead, Mr Andrew Haley, to help implement the changes recommended by the reviews. It is envisaged that these changes will take a minimum of six months to complete and the Archdiocese has publicly committed to keeping the Inquiry informed as to its progress.

11. The safeguarding team and the procedures adopted within the Archdiocese of Birmingham are in the process of undergoing significant change. The true impact of these changes will not be known until some time after the publication of this report. The Archdiocese will therefore need to satisfy itself that all necessary changes are put into effect and that there is sufficient monitoring and internal oversight of its safeguarding team.

12. In light of these recent reviews, and the fact that this case study is only one part of the Inquiry’s investigation into the broader response of the Roman Catholic Church, this report will not make any recommendations on future safeguarding arrangements within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The findings in this report will be used to inform the Inquiry about the topics and issues that are likely to arise within the wider Roman Catholic investigation. However, we expect the Archdiocese to reflect on this investigation report and take such steps as are necessary to protect children in the future.

13. Matters relating to child protection are not only the focus of reviews by the Archdiocese of Birmingham. On 24 September 2018, senior clergy in England and Wales announced that they have asked the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission to commission a review of safeguarding. In February 2019, the Pope convened a summit in Rome attended by senior members of the Church from around the world. The summit was focussed on the ‘Protection of Minors in the Church’.

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