NBSCCC review shows drop in allegationsWednesday, June 6th, 2012
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) is seeking additional funding and personnel to help offset the increased demands on its services.
According to NBSCCC Chief Executive, Ian Elliot, with the day-to-day demands for the services of the Board and its national office growing, the level of resources available to enable them to fulfil their remit is, “a matter of concern.”
Writing in the 2011 Annual Report, Ian Elliot states, “While we have worked hard to increase the amount of work we can take on, we would greatly value additional funding. This has been discussed with the sponsoring bodies and we have been greatly encouraged by their willingness to listen to our requests."
He underlines that the need for increased resources is recognised by the members, representing the three sponsoring bodies, who have confirmed that they are anxious to continue to support the Board in its work. NBSCCC Chairman John Morgan describes the Board as, “engaged in helpful and positive discussion with the sponsoring bodies concerning resources.”
The annual report also highlights that the National Board is set to publish its next tranche of audits, covering four dioceses and three religious orders, by the end of the month. According to Ian Elliot this new batch of audits is, “well underway.” The first tranche of review reports was released last November by the six dioceses that were audited.
The 2011 report shows that just six of the 237 new abuse allegations reported over the past year to the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church related to the period from 2000 onwards. According to new figures released by the NBSCCC, the number of new abuse allegations is down from 272 for the equivalent period in 2010.
These new allegations in 2011 involved 196 priests and religious and originate predominantly from adults reporting historical abuse that happened in childhood.
Addressing the Government’s two bills, the Children First Bill 2012 and the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012, the NBSCCC calls for an amendment in the proposed Criminal Justice Bill over the inadequately qualified defence of ‘reasonable excuse’ in the failure to disclose information around defined offences against children and vulnerable persons.
The NBSCCC warns that in the absence of an amendment, it is foreseeable that existing Church policy, designed to safeguard children, “might be materially weakened by the very legislation that has been promoted by Government as a means to strengthen it.”
The National Office’s 2011 report also shows that it dealt with a significant increase in requests for advice last year, totalling 156 requests across the Church, 89 of which came from the 26 dioceses and 67 from 30 religious orders, up from 104 requests in 2010.
“Good progress describes the analysis of Board activities in the last year”, according to NBSCCC Chairman, John Morgan.
Meanwhile, the NBSCCC has set a target of completing reviews in all remaining dioceses by summer 2013 and achieving some inroads in its work with major religious orders. Reviews evaluate the management of all current risk, and assess the quality of personnel, structures and programmes delivering the implementation of child safeguarding practices and procedures.
One of the initiatives launched in 2011 by the NBSCCC was the National Case Management Reference Group. This body was created to provide a source of expert advice and guidance to Church authorities who have questions about particular cases. More than twenty Church authorities have joined the initiative so far.
The NBSCCC's annual report also highlights that policy development is ongoing and that in 2011, following a period of extensive consultation, the interim guidance of leave from sacred ministry and apostolate was issued by the three sponsoring bodies.
It has been adopted by the three sponsoring bodies for a period of a year with a view to monitoring its implementation and use across the Church. If refinement is needed to the interim guidance, this will be recommended at the end of the year based on the experience of following the guidance.
Over the course of the next year, the National Board anticipates bringing a number of draft policies to members for consideration and adoption. These will include the management of allegations concerning vulnerable adults within the Church as well as policy concerning the formal referencing of visiting clergy, building upon the work already undertaken by the Episcopal Conference in this area.
By Sarah Mac Donald