The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report. The report is the work of an Inquiry Panel consisting of Professor Alexis Jay OBE, Professor Sir Malcolm Evans KCMG OBE, Ivor Frank and Drusilla Sharpling CBE.
The Executive Summary notes that
“Since the mid 1930s, there have been over 130 allegations of child sexual abuse made against no fewer than 78 individuals associated with the Archdiocese. Many of the allegations have been made against priests and deacons. Thirteen individuals have been convicted of some of the most serious sexual offences against children. Three other individuals received cautions. Those 16 criminal cases involved no fewer than 53 victims. However, many of the 78 individuals accused of committing child sexual abuse are no longer alive and the allegations cannot now be fully investigated by the Archdiocese or the police.
Civil claims have also been brought against the Archdiocese and significant sums of money have been paid out in compensation and legal fees.
The true scale of offending and the number of children who were abused is likely to be far greater than set out in this report.”
“Following the Nolan report [in 2001], there have been improvements in the way child sexual abuse allegations are handled and increased cooperation between the Archdiocese and the police and statutory agencies. Nevertheless, recent reviews conducted by the Archdiocese in 2018 have uncovered significant problems with record keeping and case management. One of the reviews – an independent audit of the Archdiocese’s safeguarding arrangements – found that the current safeguarding team was not adequately supervised and was critical of the recording systems. The audit found it was difficult to follow what had happened from the case files and ascertain what action had been taken. Despite the passage of time since the publication of the Nolan report – some 17 years have elapsed – there are still significant gaps in the Archdiocese’s child safeguarding arrangements.”
In response, the Archdiocese said:
“We accept that we have failed victims and survivors of abuse and again apologise for the grievous failings we have made in the past. Apologies are just words though, if not backed up by action.
We will take the time needed to review the IICSA report thoroughly in order to make a considered and detailed response, which will inform our ongoing commitment to do more and do better.
In light of independent reviews commissioned by Trustees and made available to IICSA, the Archdiocese has already fundamentally changed its practices and processes to ensure an open and compassionate approach to victims and survivors. It now has more safeguarding personnel, better management and recording systems, stronger DBS/checking procedures and clear policies and practices on safeguarding referrals and agreements, to safeguard those who come in contact with the church.”