Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Making the Church safer for children

SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN ANNIVERSARYAs a result of the decline in the number of complaints received, the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service can give more time to helping parishes ensure that they create and maintain safe environments for children.

The Dublin Archdiocese continues to make great strides in making the Church a safer place for all, especially children.

The Diocesan Director of Safeguarding, Andrew Fagan, says the number of complaints and allegations against diocesan personnel, lay and ordained, continues to fall. 

However, there were four new allegations of child abuse involving priests of the Dublin Archdiocese in 2016 – these were all ‘historical’ complaints, as three of the priests involved are deceased and the other is retired.

“We deal with complaints about a wide range of people apart from diocesan priests and there has been a notable decrease in the number of such cases coming to our attention since 2010. This proved true in 2016 also,” said Mr Fagan.

As a result of the ongoing decline in the number of complaints received, the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service (CSPS) can now give more time to helping parishes ensure that they are creating and maintaining safe environments for children.

This is reflected in the doubling of the numbers attending training and information sessions – more than 2,000 people attended safeguarding training courses and information sessions last year.

Work by the diocesan safeguarding office in this area has become more proactive and they are following a strategic plan, worked out by the diocesan Safeguarding Committee, which is designed to ensure that diocesan safeguarding policy is understood and implemented across all of the 199 parishes in the diocese.

While the increased focus on training was to be welcomed, said Mr Fagan, it was vital that no one became complacent around the issue of child abuse, whether working directly in the child safeguarding service or in a volunteer capacity in parishes. 

He said the diocesan service was still very much alert to the need to help and support anyone who has suffered from child abuse and anyone who has concerns about child abuse.

Some 8,500 archdiocesan personnel, staff and volunteers were Garda vetted in 2016, an increase of 1,500 on the previous year. 

So far, nearly 54,000 people have been Garda vetted as a result of archdiocesan procedures.

The archdiocese continues to process civil legal actions from people who were abused by priests as children. It has spent €22.4 million in settling claims and in associated legal costs. 

In total 12 priests or former priests of the diocese have been convicted of child abuse in the criminal courts. There have been 277 civil actions taken against 54 priests or former priests of the diocese; 215 have concluded and 57 are ongoing.

If you have any concern about child safety relating to the Dublin Archdiocese, you should contact Andrew Fagan at the CSPS on 01 836 0314.

For more details, visit http://csps.dublindiocese.ie/.

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