The Roman Catholic Church’s new watchdog will publicly identify church bodies whose policies and practices fail to safeguard children and adults.
That was the message from Bill Kilgallon, the first chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission. The commission, which came into existence on 1 July, will be responsible for developing safeguarding policy and monitoring compliance.
Kilgallon said the commission would “encourage rather than enforce” compliance with policies, but added that it would be prepared to expose dioceses, parishes and religious orders that needed to improve safeguarding in its annual reports. He said it would also aim to strengthen internal church investigations into abuse allegations, which take place after inquiries carried out by statutory agencies.
The commission includes church representatives but has a lay majority, headed by Kilgallon, the former chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence. It also includes a social worker, an NSPCC member of staff and a board member from the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
Advise and support
The Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service has also been set up to advise and support church bodies on safeguarding. It will have a training and development worker, unlike the previous safeguarding body.
Last year, the Cumberlege review said that the while the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults had achieved much since it was established in 2001, it had struggled with the twin roles of advising church bodies on safeguarding and enforcing compliance with policies. It recommended its replacement with the two new watchdogs.