Church Unveils Panel for Abuse Investigations

Article excerpt

A NEW independent panel to investigate cases of alleged abuse where the police have taken no action was unveiled yesterday by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

A pilot scheme allowing an investigator to report to a panel chaired by a judge, senior lawyer or member of the social care professions in cases where there is a possible risk but police have judged there to be no realistic prospect of a prosecution, is under way, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission said.

Adrian Child, director of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS), said the independent investigation procedure would concentrate expertise in handling cases where the police said no prosecution was viable but there was an "unclarified level of possible risk".

Decisions about how to deal with alleged abusers within the Catholic Church in England and Wales where there has been no police action are currently taken at a diocesan level, he said.

He said: "Although we report as a matter of course all these allegations to the police and statutory authorities, what often happens after a preliminary inquiry by the police is that they don't believe there is any likelihood of a successful prosecution because of the passage of time, difficulties of collecting evidence and so on and so forth. …