For immediate release
18 August 2015

Publication of The McLellan Commission Report

Dr Andrew McLellan CBE, Chair of The McLellan Commission, which published its Report today (18 August) has made eight key recommendations to Scotland’s Catholic Bishops to help improve the current standards of safeguarding within the Church. The McLellan Commission was established in 2014, with a remit to undertake a critical review of all aspects of safeguarding policy, procedure and practice within the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The eight recommendations are:

  • Support for survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland in the field of safeguarding.
  • The policy and practice manual "Awareness and Safety in our Catholic Communities" should be completely revised or rewritten.
  • There must be external scrutiny and independence in the safeguarding policies and practices of the Church.
  • Effectiveness and improvement must be measured at every level of safeguarding in the Church.
  • A consistent approach to safeguarding is essential: consistent across different parts of Scotland and consistent across different parts of the Church.
  • Justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done, for those who have been abused and for those against whom allegations of abuse are made.
  • The priority of undertaking regular high-quality training and continuous professional development in safeguarding must be understood and accepted by all those involved in safeguarding at every level.
  • The Church must set out a theology of safeguarding which is coherent and compelling.

Dr. McLellan commented:
"There is unanimous agreement among members of the Commission about our eight recommendations. Nothing in our independent report is more important than our first recommendation: that support for the survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland."

Each of the eight recommendations is followed by a number of subsidiary recommendations. The Commissioners want there to be no doubt about what each recommendation means and no doubt about what exactly is to be done about each recommendation.

Dr. McLellan added:
"The Report has recommendations which can be measured. One year from now, or three years from now, the Catholic Church will be able to demonstrate how much progress has been made against our recommendations."

To fulfil its remit, the Commission has critically evaluated the existing safeguarding systems and arrangements and met with the full range of interested parties within and beyond the Catholic Church, including Children 1st, Barnardo’s, Police Scotland and Caledonia Youth, and listened to expert opinion on best practice. The Commissioners also listened to the experience of survivors of harm and abuse within the Church to identify what aspects of the approach to safeguarding within the Church helped or hindered matters being raised and addressed.

The Commissioners also assessed the quality of support available to survivors and sought to determine whether there was evidence of improvement and learning in the Church's response to abuse. It was not within the scope of the Commission to investigate or adjudicate on current or historical allegations.

Dr. McLellan concluded:
"This is the greatest challenge facing the whole Catholic Church in Scotland. Change will come when the whole membership of the Church own this desire for change and embrace the agenda set out in our Report. If the Catholic Church in Scotland grabs this opportunity, then the Church will be a safer place for all."

Dr. McLellan would like to place on the record his appreciation and thanks to his fellow Commissioners for their hard work and diligence over the last 18 months to undertake this comprehensive review and make the recommendations in the Report.


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Notes to editors

1. Background to the McLellan Commission
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Scotland’s Catholic Bishops, announced on 24 November 2013 that they were instigating a range of safeguarding initiatives.

In a spirit of openness and transparency, the three initiatives were announced in a letter read out at all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes. The initiatives are:

  • an immediate publication of all Diocesan Safeguarding Audits from 2006-2012, giving a statistical breakdown of reported safeguarding incidents during those years.
  • a professional external "Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures", which will review the suitability and robustness of safeguarding procedures.
  • a Statistical Review of all Historic Cases of Abuse from 1947-2005

The "Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures" is now known as The McLellan Commission.

2. Remit
The remit of the Commission was to review all aspects of safeguarding policy, procedure and practice within the Catholic Church in Scotland, and to make recommendations for improvement that will assist the church in being a safe place for all.

3. Report
A copy of the full Report can be found on the website:

4. Web address
Further information can be found at: