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Cardinal Vincent Nichols r4Sunday 21/4/19. Child abuse – a straight answer to a straight question is outside the Cardinal’s repertoire

On 21st April Cardinal Vincent Nichols was interviewed on BBC Sunday Programme. He either  blanked or sidestepped questions on child abuse in the Catholic Church. Our post concentrates on this aspect of the interview including the cover up of child abuse in the Archdiocese of Birmingham where Nichols was Archbishop from 2000 – 2009. The Archdiocese was part of IICSA’s Catholic investigation undertaken – Nichols gave evidence.

Transcript:

Presenter Emily Buchanan: [after topic on persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka] … of course and the other big issue facing your own Church has been the sex abuse scandals and the Pope and indeed you yourself have had to apologise over cover up – in your case it was in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. This must have affected you personally. What have you yourself actually done since apologising?

Nichols: Well, you know – the fact that we live with child abuse having found a home in the Catholic church is something that is a continual point of reflection for me, for me and for many many other people.
You won’t mind my saying but I look around our society and see that this is a challenge that we all face in many many different sectors in society and the learning curve is steep, and one of things that we learn – not just in the church but everybody has to learn – is the lasting effect of childhood abuse and the need to listen with the heart [interruption] to those who speak of this.

Mandate Now Comment : Nichols did not answer the question, we are therefore left to conclude he’s done nothing.  Doing nothing has been the default of the Church for millennia. His lame attempt to deflect the listener onto child abuse in wider society is an institutional default, and Nichols embraced it.

Presenter: But one of the things that many of the things that victims talk about – certainly one we had on the programme – is that the Catholic church could respond in a different way; not just apologise, which just comes and goes, but actually not put these victims through these gruelling trials in which they often just – their will is ground down. Can you make this process of trying to get justice less painful?

Mandate Now Comment: The interviewer was referring to a recent interview with Patrick Raggett who was abused by Father Michael Spencer at a Preston Catholic College. In Raggett’s interview with Donna Birrell on 3/3/19, he explained the challenge of seeking damages from the Church whose lawyers fought every aspect of his case. Raggett’s interview was exclusively about his experience of the Church’s behaviour towards him during civil proceedings. Raggett is a barrister himself.

Nichols: Child abuse is a crime: and a crime has to be responded to according to the legal systems of any state and there is no way round it – I’m very sorry. I know – I’ve sat with people whose lives have been as damaged by a trial as by the original abuse. But it is a crime, and that’s where we have to start, and there’s no room for it in the church, and as with every crime, the full force of law must be used against it.

Comment: Nichols sidesteps the question by talking of the criminal justice system which  Emily Buchanan did not ask about. 

Presenter: Cardinal Nichols, I’ll have to stop you there, thank you so much.

Nichols: I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Easter. This is a really wonderful day on which Christ is risen and that is the proper [emphasised] focus for our thought this morning so a Happy Easter to everybody.

Comment: ‘Proper focus’ indeed.  Maybe Nichols should act on President Obama’s thoughts when he went to Sandy Hook Elementary School :

In his two comments Nichols reveals why the Church is incapable of delivering functioning safeguarding on which reliance can be placed. He didn’t achieve it as Archbishop of Birmingham, why should we expect him to change? Safeguarding will have no chance of step improvement until the introduction of well designed mandatory reporting to Regulated Activities including faith.

April 25th, 2019|

The cut n’ paste safeguarding policy at Crewe Alexandra Football Club needs to be scrapped. Here’s why

We have reviewed two core components of the Crewe Alexandra Football Club safeguarding policy: (i) the child protection and safeguarding policy and, (ii) the whistleblowing policy. We provide a third document showing the email exchanges needed to secure the policies from the club.

The whistleblowing policy is key because in England there is no legislation that requires employees and/or volunteers who have responsibility for the care of children in a ‘Regulated Activity‘ (a football club academy for example) to report known or suspected abuse to the statutory authorities. Anyone who chooses to report is by default a whistleblower with little legal protection. Furthermore it’s discretionary to report a safeguarding concern. No law is broken by  a member of staff who chooses to not report a concern to the local authority for independent assessment that perhaps, only many years later when the child has disclosed abuse in adulthood, secures a criminal conviction.

Please read the conclusions on the first page of the safeguarding policy review below. 

To the extent safeguarding works in any setting, it does so thanks to good staff trying their best with a legislative framework that simply cannot function effectively within Regulated Activities. The design and delivery of any safeguarding policy is vitally important and reveals the extent to which safeguarding is embedded in the culture of  the setting.

Our reviews of:

The CAFC Safeguarding Policy 

The CAFC Whistleblowing Policy

Emails needed to secure the Crewe Alexandra policies 

In 2018 a representative of Mandate Now provided evidence to the Independent Football Review led by Clive Sheldon QC.

(The policy in the review was current at the time of going to print  10/12/18)
March 21st, 2019|

The Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel @churchofengland attempting to sell a counterfeit suggestion that mandatory reporting exists within the Church.

Meg Munn, the recently appointed Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel of the Church of England, appeared on Radio 4 Sunday programme on the 17th March 2019. The peg for her contribution was the appalling story of Bishop of Chester, one of the 26 Spiritual Lords who contribute to the formulation of legislation in the House, failing to report to the statutory authorities abuse perpetrated by Rev. Gordon Dickenson which Dickenson wrote to him about in 2009.  Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.

Here is the interview with Ed Stourton.  In the first minute, Ms Munn provided clear opinion on what should now happen with this matter. Ed Stourton then read an extract from a letter sent to Andrew Graystone by the Bishop of Chester. Below we provide the transcript of the interview with Ms Munn from @1’39” onwards. Our observations are interpolated into the copy under ‘comment’.  Emboldening and italicisation are ours. (more…)

March 19th, 2019|

How much does Barnardo’s really care for vulnerable children? | Why did it sign an Independent Advocacy Contract with the Youth Justice Board at Medway in which it agreed to not refer child protection concerns to Local Authority?

In 2013 the children’s charity Barnado’s entered into a contract with the Youth Justice Board  to provide independent advocacy for children at the Medway Secure Training Centre in which the charity agreed not to refer any concerns about child protection to Kent local authority.  What does this tell us of the charity’s commitment to vulnerable children? Just how safe are the children they are meant to be advocating for and protecting today?

Barnardo’s looks conflicted between protecting children and its cherished relationship with Government and the public sector. Agreeing a contract that obliges it to not report child protection concerns to the Local Authority hits rock bottom. But having reached it, Barnardo’s breaks out the Kango hammer and starts digging again.  (more…)

February 22nd, 2019|

Lawn Tennis Association Safeguarding remains dysfunctional

The LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said on the 25/1/19: “the LTA has now undertaken a root and branch review of its safeguarding” and “is committed to having the best safeguarding procedures possible at every level of the game.” Our review of the LTA safeguarding reveals dysfunctional safeguarding has been retained despite Mr Lloyd’s assertions.

Our review is available here.

Little reliance can be placed on the County Association Safeguarding Template policy. In England, Wales and Scotland there is still no statutory obligation to report either known or suspected abuse to the Local Authority (or the police in appropriate circumstances) for independent assessment. LTA policy provides no commitment even to consult with external agencies, such as the local Authority Designated Officer (“LADO”) for advice and/or guidance, when a safeguarding concern arises.

The LTA claims a child is a person under the age of 18 years. The proposed extension of the Position of Trust Law to sports coaches was put on hold by the Government many months ago. Here are the roles to which the law currently applies. Sports coaches are not included.

The LTA policy is a Potemkin village. Like all safeguarding policies, its foundation is ‘statutory guidance’ issued by the Department for Education to assist Regulated Activities, such the LTA, deliver law effectively. But there is no law to report known or suspected child abuse. As a result the term ‘statutory guidance’ is little more than an oxymoron. The reality is, the head of an LTA affiliated tennis club/centre who has statutory responsibility for safeguarding cannot be held to account by safeguarding legislation for failures to refer known or suspected child abuse to the statutory agencies. Furthermore, absence of legislation means staff who make a report in good faith, have no protection against legal action if the report they make is not validated in law.

The LTA is free to exceed the de minimis expectations of ‘statutory guidance’ to produce a safeguarding policy on which greater reliance can be placed. Unfortunately it has made no attempt to address the legislative vacuum in order to support staff and better protect young players in LTA care. What hope for culture change?

January 27th, 2019|

Lawn Tennis Association Safeguarding remains dysfunctional  

The LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said on the 25/1/19: “the LTA has now undertaken a root and branch review of its safeguarding” and “is committed to having the best safeguarding procedures possible at every level of the game.” Our review of the LTA safeguarding reveals dysfunctional safeguarding has been retained despite Mr Lloyd’s assertions.

Our review is available here.

Little reliance can be placed on the County Association Safeguarding Template policy. In England, Wales and Scotland there is still no statutory obligation to report either known or suspected abuse to the Local Authority (or the police in appropriate circumstances) for independent assessment. LTA policy provides no commitment even to consult with external agencies, such as the local Authority Designated Officer (“LADO”) for advice and/or guidance, when a safeguarding concern arises.

The LTA claims a child is a person under the age of 18 years. The proposed extension of the Position of Trust Law to sports coaches was put on hold by the Government many months ago. Here are the roles to which the law currently applies. Sports coaches are not included.

The LTA policy is a Potemkin village. Like all safeguarding policies, its foundation is ‘statutory guidance’ issued by the Department for Education to assist Regulated Activities, such the LTA, deliver law effectively. But there is no law to report known or suspected child abuse. As a result the term ‘statutory guidance’ is little more than an oxymoron. The reality is, the head of an LTA affiliated tennis club/centre who has statutory responsibility for safeguarding cannot be held to account by safeguarding legislation for failures to refer known or suspected child abuse to the statutory agencies. Furthermore, absence of legislation means staff who make a report in good faith, have no protection against legal action if the report they make is not validated in law.

The LTA is free to exceed the de minimis expectations of ‘statutory guidance’ to produce a safeguarding policy on which greater reliance can be placed. Unfortunately it has made no attempt to address the legislative vacuum in order to support staff and better protect young players in LTA care. What hope for culture change?

About Mandate Now

Mandate Now is a pressure group that since 2005 has led the agenda for the introduction of mandatory reporting of known and suspected abuse by those employed in Regulated Activities (schools, faith, sport, scouts, cadets, healthcare). Over 200,000 people signed the Mandate Now petition  which called for the introduction of the law which exists in the majority of jurisdictions on all four continents. Mandate Now is a participant in the mandatory reporting seminars that help by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

January 27th, 2019|

Update – IICSA / CA Royal Comm data comparison

The headline feature of our latest review continues to be the vastly different scale of resources committed by each Government to their respective child abuse inquiries. It is even more pronounced when you consider England and Wales has 2.43 times the population of Australia :

Headline data for 2018

 

Headline data for 2017

 

Our four page review (.pdf)

What impact is the striking difference in resources having on IICSA?

December 24th, 2018|

Letter to IICSA from multiple signatories following the presentation by the Department for Education to the MR Seminar (1) 27.9.18

A number of questions arise from the presentation given by Mr Graham Archer (Director of Children’s Social Care, Learning and Development – Department for Education) on the topic of ‘Existing Reporting Obligations in England and Wales’. With delegates not being permitted to ask questions of each other, Mandate Now and other signatories have written to IICSA to seek answers about a number of the ‘obligations’ to which Mr Archer alluded. We hope the inquiry asks and receives answers to these matters well in advance of MR Seminar (2) scheduled for 30/4/18, and makes them publicly available.

Our letter to IICSA dated 18/10/18 is available here: Letter to Brian Altman QC Counsel to the Inquiry

Signatories to the letter :

Mandate Now made two submissions to IICSA’s MR seminar which are available by following this link.

By clicking on the YouTube link you will be taken to the start of Mr Archer’s presentation.

 

On the 26th October IICSA sent the following reply to our letter. Of particular note is the fourth paragraph. It’s unfortunate that none of our questions, with which IICSA are so closely aligned, were asked at the MR seminar after Mr Archer’s presentation.

 

 

October 22nd, 2018|

Mandate Now Submission to Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – #MRseminar (1) 27/9/18

“While some have opposed mandatory reporting laws (Hansen & Ainsworth, 2013; Melton, 2005), these claims have been challenged (Drake & Jonson-Reid, 2007; Mathews & Bross, 2008) and opponents have not explicitly made their claim in relation to mandatory reporting of CSA. There are at least three reasons for this. First, CSA is qualitatively very different from other instances of other types of maltreatment (Mathews, 2014). Second, the well-established gap between the real and disclosed incidence of CSA nullifies Melton’s (2005) claim that case-finding is not a challenge. Third, reports of CSA to government agencies account for a very small proportion of all reports of child maltreatment, repelling any claim that CSA reports intolerably overwhelm child protection systems or divert resources from other priorities. Mandated reports of CSA across Australia over a 10 year period accounted for just 6% of all reports of child maltreatment from all reporter groups (Mathews, Bromfield, Walsh, & Vimpani, 2015), and USA annual data are similar (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). In Australia, government inquiries have supported mandatory reporting of CSA as a necessary component of social policy, even after scrutinizing the validity of child protection systems and attempting to control expenditure (Carmody, 2013; Cummins, Scott, & Scales, 2012; Layton, 2003; Wood, 2008).”   Matthews et al., 2016

(more…)

September 27th, 2018|

Mandate Now Review of : Summary of consultation responses and Government action following #MRconsult

To coincide with the #MRseminar at IICSA on 27/9/18, we are releasing our review of the published summary of consultation responses and Government action following the consultation titled ‘Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect.’

The outcome of this mischievous and poorly designed consultation is a triumph of dogma over reality. Mandatory reporting of known and suspected abuse of children by specified regulated activities is an essential component of functioning safeguarding framework. The majority of the rest of the world knows it.

Here is our detailed review.

The proposed action to be taken by government has ignored under-reporting of known and suspected abuse by Regulated Activities (such as schools), the very point of Amendment 43 tabled by Baroness Walmsley in the Serious Crimes Bill that secured the consultation, and instead concentrated on improvements to inter-agency services and communication once a referral has been received by the Local Authority.  Our review explains why this will deliver little change, but that seems to be the intention.

According to the pre-launch media briefings, dinner ladies and secretaries were going to be jailed for failing to report signs of abuse. It’s nonsense of course, as anyone familiar with Amendment 43 will understand,  but it provides an insight to the irrational fear Government has of mandatory reporting of known and suspected child abuse, and here’s why.

Government has ignored empirical evidence and data in order to arrive at a pre-determined outcome.

As we provided in our submission, data from mandatory reporting jurisdictions reveals that mandatory reporting legislation introduced to Regulated Settings sees the number of referrals to the statutory agencies from mandated reporters’ double. In turn this leads to a near doubling in the number of children being placed into safety who would otherwise be left to their fate.

The Government and those who reject the introduction of MR have to own and face up to the responsibility that they are knowingly leaving children to their uncertain fate who would otherwise be placed into safety with the introduction of mandatory reporting.  

September 25th, 2018|