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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report


D.4: The Cumberlege review (2007)

23. The Nolan report stated that its recommendations should be reviewed after five years. This led to the Cumberlege Commission review – Safeguarding with Confidence – in July 2007.[1]

24. The Cumberlege review examined the progress of the Nolan recommendations. It concluded that 79 of the 83 recommendations had either been completely or partially addressed. The review noted:

  • the achievements of COPCA “in such a relatively short time, have been considerable”;[2]
  • the complex structure of the Church meant that the implementation of the ‘One Church’ approach was not straightforward:

    ‘Programme for Action’ assumed that the Catholic Church operated as a functioning, hierarchical organisation capable of responding to, and implementing, a secular (in essence a social work) model of child protection and prevention. The reality, however, is very different … The Church is collegiate … Authority rests with each Bishop in his diocese and each Congregational Leader in his or her congregation … So the Nolan prescription has compelled the Church to work in ways that are unfamiliar to it and where ‘internal’ partnership working – dioceses working with each other and congregations working with dioceses – let alone ‘external’ partnership working with the secular child protection world – has limited precedent”;[3] and

  • religious institutes were:

    a late addition to the diocesan led thinking and recommendations underpinning the Nolan review. Five years later they continue to be so. The very nature and diversity of these religious congregations … bring with it a particular challenge to the One Church approach … uptake among the religious of the national policies is hugely variable. It is slower and more grudging in some places, especially among those congregations whose concerns are not primarily with children or vulnerable adults … others are more willing to engage with the new processes than their diocesan counterparts. Substantial inputs of support and training are required to enable all religious congregations, given their diversity and later inclusion, to embrace the One Church approach.[4]

25. The Cumberlege report replaced the language of ‘child protection’ with that of ‘safeguarding’ and made 72 recommendations, including that:

  • diocesan child protection commissions should become safeguarding commissions responsible for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults;
  • COPCA’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;
  • CSAS should ensure the safeguarding policies are accessible at all levels with an emphasis on people in parishes;
  • CSAS should report and be accountable to the Bishops’ Conference and the CoR through a new National Safeguarding Commission; and
  • the Bishops’ Conference and the CoR “should publicly declare and renew their affirmation of the One Church approach to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults through the promotion of a sustained and sustainable culture of constant vigilance”.[5]

26. The implementation of the Cumberlege recommendations and the resulting changes to the Church’s child protection structure, policies and procedures are considered in Part E.

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