Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency
The Catholic Standards Safeguarding Agency CSSA is a new central agency will be created which will be a professional standards body to which all Catholic Dioceses and Religious Life Groups in England and Wales will be accountable. This replaces the current Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) and National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC). The CSSA will be under the responsibility of an independent management board, and led by a CEO for day-to-day operations.
To provide an effective safeguarding service, it is imperative that the voice of those that have been harmed through their involvement with the Church, is heard and learnt from. We will respect and value their opinions, seeing them as wise consultants. All engagement will be done with humility, compassion and empathy in the realisation that there is much to learn.
Engaging with survivors will be approached in a way that reflects their needs, and at all times their wellbeing will be central. The Survivor Advisory Panel will continue its work, and as well as reaching out to survivors on a one to one or small group basis. Survivors are not a homogenous group and it is important that we approach enagament in a way that is best suited to them.
CSSA will have the authority to ensure that each partner organisation is complying with the published standards. The authority to ensure compliance, and the source of its powers, will be the contracts between the CSSA and each partner, namely, each Diocese, ICLSAL or other church organisation that would freely wish to enter into such an agreement with the CSSA. These powers will include:
Escalation and intervention in the event of practice not reaching agreed standards;
Mandatory audit and follow up activity by the CSSA, with the publication of audits to be
published at the sole discretion of the CSSA;
Investigation into complaints that have exhausted local processes
The Board of the CSSA has been recruited and will be led by Nazir Afzal, the former Chief Crown Prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming gang cases as the Chair of their new safeguarding agency. Stephen Ashley, who will serve as the Deputy Chair of the CSSA, is a former Assistant Chief Constable who authored a Home Office report on the conduct of the police during the investigations into sex offences committed by former television personality Jimmy Savile.
The appointments of Amanda Ellingworth, Wesley Cuell and Dr Jenny Holmes as Non-Executive Directors will also be announced by the bishops. The Board will also be strengthened by the appointment of Bishop Paul Mason of the Bishopric of the Forces as the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, and Fr David Smolira SJ as the Lead Religious. Carol Lawrence, Project Director, will also remain as a Director of the CSSA.
The CSSA will offer a number of services. These will include:
Providing advice to CaTEW on risk and DBS checks
Providing policy and procedure to support the professional standards to which its partners are
Offering informal advice on case management;
A formal case consultation service by the way of a Case Consultation Committee, which will
be a sub-group of the CSSA.