At a press conference held virtually, and in-person in London on 18 November 2021, Bishop Paul Mason gave an update on the on-going work of the new Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA).

The agency has a standards-based approach with eight key standards. An audit process will start once these standards are being implemented across the Dioceses of England and Wales.

Bishop Mason spoke, too, of the critical input of survivors:

Safeguarding simply can’t work if we don’t have the perspective of survivors. The Elliot Review was quite clear that survivors are not an homogeneous group, and we can’t simply say that we have a small group of survivors therefore they represent all survivors. That’s clearly not the case. So with the CSSA, we’ve been looking, in some detail, at how we can reach out to survivors as individuals, as groups, in a far more broad way so we can hear their voice. Without that, anything we do, in a sense, lacks a firm foundation. We’ll be establishing a Survivors Reference Panel as part of that.

We are also looking at other strategies to reach out as wide as possible to survivors to get their input on all aspects of the developmental work that we’re doing with the CSSA.

An important development from the CSSA is the provision of new, ongoing training of bishops and ongoing training and formation of clergy in safeguarding. Delivered online, with live webinars, this is not a repetitive piece of training that priests are expected to undertake annually or biannually, but something that enables growth each time a person enters the programme – it builds on what has gone before. The CSSA hopes to have the training live by March 2022.

Bishop Mason also gave an update on the development of the National Tribunal Service – part of the ‘One Church’ approach to safeguarding. The National Tribunal Service will have the authority to investigate and make decisions in the first and second instance. This will be more transparent and provide a common approach to questions of safeguarding.

This video and text was first published on 23 November 2021 through YouTube by the Catholic Church of England and Wales.