COPCA releases fifth child protection report

 The Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) presented its Fifth Annual Report today. The Report shows that the Catholic Church in England and Wales continues to make progress in the work of safeguarding children and young people. It contains a wide range of statistics drawn from the work of child protection in the Church. Behind these figures lies a huge amount of work which involves thousands of people who freely give their time to contribute to achieving the aims set out by Lord Nolan in his report A Programme for Action (2001). The result of this long-standing and consistent effort is that safeguarding children and young people is increasingly tightly woven into the fabric of the Church in England and Wales. The Report shows that: In 2006: There were over 18,000 CRB checks on: _ all clergy and religious; _ all those working in the child protection system; _ all employees working with children and vulnerable adults; _ all new recruits; _ existing volunteers. Since 2003, 64,000 CRB checks have been carried out. Almost 440 training sessions were held, attended by 5,300 participants. Since 2003 over 19,000 people have now received training in safeguarding children. In 5 out of 6 parishes we have a Local Child Protection Representative is in place. These volunteer roles act to: _ Raise awareness among parishioners and act as a listening post for anyone with concerns; _ Help to carry out CRB checks in parishes; _ Make sure all events and activities for children or vulnerable adults are safe. During 2006, 6 alleged incidents of sexual abuse by clergy were reported as occurring during the current year, in addition to 1 alleged incident of physical abuse by a religious sister. In addition, 10 alleged incidents of abuse taking place during 2006 were reported in relation to employees, volunteers and parishioners. Of these 10, 8 were allegations of sexual abuse. There were 26 alleged incidents of abuse reported as taking place prior to 2006, over a period of 46 years. The total figure for all allegations of abuse reported to the Police in 2006 was 41. These cases involved 43 alleged victims and 41 alleged offenders. Of these 41 reported cases, 24 resulted in no further action by the Police. 14 are still under consideration and investigation and 3 have resulted in prosecutions with 1 conviction to date. There are 5,600 clergy working in England and Wales, 6,000 members of religious congregations, and approximately 130,000 volunteers working with children and vulnerable adults. The number of reported cases of alleged abuse has fallen again in 2006. However, there is no room for complacency, and the Catholic Church in England and Wales remains determined to protect the most vulnerable by creating safe environments. Eileen Shearer, Director of COPCA said: "There is no doubt that the Catholic Church is now a safer place for children. There is a solid working framework and structure in place, along with clear procedures, extensive training programmes, vigorous background checks and positive relationships with Statutory Agencies." The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham and Chair of the COPCA Management Board said: "I am glad to present this report, the fifth from COPCA. The Report is evidence of the Catholic Church's openness about these sensitive and difficult matters. The Report is also a tribute to all who strive to create wholesome environments for the work of the Church. It is also a great tribute to Eileen Shearer in particular. She is now moving on to fresh work, initially with the NSPCC. I thank her most sincerely for her leadership of COPCA over these last 5 and a half years." The Annual Report 2006 is available online at under the heading 'Documents'

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