Scotland's Catholic Bishops, known as the The Bishops' Conference of Scotland, 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, directed by The Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, CBE, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and former Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Commenting at the time of the announcement, Mgr. Hugh Bradley, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference said:
"The Bishops are delighted that Dr Andrew McLellan has agreed to chair a review of safeguarding procedures and practice. Dr McLellan is a highly respected Church leader, a dedicated public servant and a man of the highest integrity, we look forward to receiving his report and commit ourselves to acting on it."
Commenting on his participation in the review process, Dr McLellan said:
"My first concern is to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults. In pursuing that aim I will be determined to discover the truth and to make clear recommendations."
The remit of the Commission is 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.
In addition to evaluating critically existing systems and arrangements, the Commission will meet with the full range of interested parties within and beyond the Catholic Church, and will listen to expert opinion on best practice. Central to its work, the Commission will listen to the experience of survivors of harm and abuse within the church, although it is not within the scope of the Commission to investigate or adjudicate on current or historical allegations. Rather it will draw on the experience of survivors in terms of identifying what aspects of the approach to Safeguarding within the Church have helped or hindered matters being raised and addressed. It will also assess the quality of support which is available to survivors and will seek to determine whether there is evidence of improvement and learning in the church's response to abuse.
The task of evaluating the effectiveness of safeguarding policy and practice within the church, will include, but not be limited to, a critical assessment of the Catholic Safeguarding Service. It will also consider wider aspects of culture and governance which may be relevant, and examine how effective the Catholic Church in Scotland is at promoting awareness and ownership of Safeguarding as a core part of the life, work and teaching of the Church.
The methodology matrix highlighted below is designed to capture the six main areas of review activity around the central task of ensuring that the Catholic Church in Scotland is a safe place for all. Each of the six boxes is being translated into a work plan with a small team of Commissioners taking responsibility for each area of activity.