Independent Review – Update August 2020

Review of the Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements within the Catholic Church in England and Wales: An Update on Progress – August 2020

Following the acceptance of the Interim Report in April, the Safeguarding Review Panel has progressed its work diligently, meeting weekly. A recommendation made in the Interim Report was for a high-level Steering Committee to be formed to support the ongoing work of the Panel. It was recognized that the leadership structure within the Church, did not lend itself to providing easily accessible guidance and direction to the Review. The reporting deadline for the Review, is the end of September and this necessitated work to be completed in a timely manner.

The Steering Committee was formed and drew its membership from amongst the bishops, the provincials, and other leadership roles in the Church.  It has met with the Safeguarding Panel every two weeks since May and has received a steady stream of papers produced through the seven workstreams that have been formed to support and supplement the work of the Safeguarding Panel.

To achieve the aim of a comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures and arrangements within the Church, the seven workstreams have undertaken a variety of tasks to progress that objective. Terms of reference were drawn up and submitted to the Steering Committee for each of these and a schedule was agreed for them to provide interim reports on their work.

As the work has progressed, the Safeguarding Panel has consistently sought the agreement in principle to the direction that it has taken, recognizing that the final decision lay with the bishops’ conference.

The workstreams drew their membership from across the existing safeguarding roles within the Church. These included chairs of safeguarding commissions, diocesan safeguarding coordinators, safeguarding leads amongst the religious, canon lawyers, trustees, and financial secretaries.

All the membership of the workstreams volunteered to serve and support the Review process. In many cases, this has resulted in accepting considerable additional work which has been undertaken within tight deadlines. To date, no reporting commitment has been missed.

The seven workstreams are:

  1. Safeguarding Structures
  2. Safeguarding Standards
  3. Audit and Review processes
  4. Engaging with Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (ICLSAL)
  5. National Appeals Tribunal
  6. Financial Options
  7. Meeting the training needs of ICLSAL.

All the scheduled meetings of the workstreams have been virtual by necessity as we have had to take account of the risks created by the pandemic which limits travel and meeting in person. Despite this, we are confident that we can complete our work by the scheduled date of the end of September.

The Review Panel has consistently encouraged conversations to take place to support the process. Virtual meetings have been scheduled with a wide range of groups and individuals across the Church. Those who have reached out to us have all been responded to and engaged with. This remains the case as we are anxious to both listen and to inform others who have an interest in our work.

The Safeguarding Panel has provided recommendations to the Steering Committee that, if adopted by the Church, would change the current structure of safeguarding within the Church. It has considered and commented upon a variety of different options and brought those to the Steering Committee for their agreement in principle. This has been given and we will continue to build upon that work to provide our final recommendations at the end of September.


Ian Elliott

Independent Chair

Safeguarding Review Panel