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Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Safeguarding – News and Guidelines

Reporting abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the Diocesan safeguarding office or religious congregation, or directly to the Police.

If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to the Diocesan safeguarding office by tel: 0191 243 3305 or by email: safeguarding@diocesehn.org.uk. You can also contact CSAS by telephoning 0207 901 1920 or via email: admin@csas.uk.net.


Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines

The following Diocesan Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines should be understood and adhered to by all personnel in the Diocese (paid or unpaid). These policies are in line with National Safeguarding Policies and follow the Catholic Churches commitment for a ‘one church approach’.

Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Guidelines


Chair appointed to new safeguarding service for religious congregations in England and Wales

A Chair of an Independent Safeguarding Commission, Anne O’Brien, has been appointed as the Chair of a new safeguarding service dedicated to supporting the safeguarding responsibilities of religious congregations - the ‘Religious Life Safeguarding Service.’

The Religious Life Safeguarding Service is being set up following a review of safeguarding across the Catholic Church conducted by Dr. Ian Elliott. This review recommended significant changes to the organisation and delivery of safeguarding services in the Church. The Religious Life Safeguarding Service will offer a full safeguarding service designed for Religious Congregations, including the provision of case work and training.

For three years Anne O’Brien has been the Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Commission for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and has also worked at a national level for the last 20 years within the NHS and the Department of Health. She held a Company Board Director position at NHS Professionals Ltd for 11 years. Anne is a faculty member of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh Quality Governance Collaborative and is currently advising the College on its global engagement and governance activity.

Fr. David Smolira SJ has been overseeing the development of this new service for the past 7 months and said this about the appointment:

I am absolutely delighted that Anne has accepted the role of Chair of the Board of the Religious Life Safeguarding Service. She brings a wealth of safeguarding expertise and experience as well as a proven track record in governance. As the first Chair of the Board, Anne will play a very important role in developing the service and ensuring that its commitment to best practice and responding compassionately and professionally to the needs of victim/survivors will be at the heart of what the RLSS does.

Anne said:

It is a privilege and a responsibility to become the first Chair of the RLSS, particularly at such a pivotal time for safeguarding in the Catholic Church. I intend to use my experience to support religious congregations embrace the changes we need to make, and I look forward to getting out and about listening and learning, ensuring we bring people with us as we develop. The voice of those hurt will be heard and will help us to improve what we do.


Update on the Catholic Safeguarding Project

The implementation of the Catholic Safeguarding Project has now begun following the acceptance of the Ian Elliott Review and IICSA report recommendations by the Bishops' Conference for England and Wales.

The Catholic Safeguarding Project is the delivery of wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures and processes in the Church in England and Wales.

For more information about the implementation visit https://www.catholicsafeguardingproject.org/.


Two national appointments confirmed in wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures and processes in the Catholic Church

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have appointed Carol Lawrence to oversee the immediate implementation of wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures and processes in the Church. Click here to read the full statement.

Fr. David Smolira SJ has also been appointed as the Religious Lead for overseeing the implementation of the new safeguarding structures on behalf of the Religious in England and Wales. Click here to read the full statement.


Bishop Robert Byrne CO statement – Bishops' Conference response to the IICSA report

Dear Friends,

Please click here to read a statement from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales following our plenary meeting this week. Our main topic of discussion was the recently published IICSA Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church which we embrace wholeheartedly. We are resolved not only to implement its findings but also to initiate a culture of safeguarding in all our Dioceses.

At our plenary meeting in the spring of last year we commissioned a root and branch review of our safeguarding procedures by Mr Ian Elliott who has a wide experience of safeguarding both in the United Kingdom and abroad. We formally accepted his Report and recommendations this week and his findings can be found on the Bishops’ Conference website from today. This report and the findings of IICSA will form the basis of our ongoing diocesan safeguarding training in future months and years.

As Bishop of this Diocese I would like to once more invite any survivor of abuse if they wish to see me or a member of our Safeguarding team.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the Parish Safeguarding Representatives, our dedicated staff in the Safeguarding Office, and our Safeguarding Commission which does such sterling work in keeping children and the vulnerable safe.

Above all I want to reiterate the Bishops’ Statement by acknowledging the failings and mistakes of the past and to express my personal sorrow at the incalculable damage done and ask the forgiveness of all victims and survivors. Let us turn to Christ the source of love and forgiveness and move forward as a Diocese with a renewed purpose and hope.

With every good wish and blessing,

+ Rt. Rev. Robert Byrne CO
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Statement ends


If you have been affected by this report further support is also available:

  1. You can contact the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Safeguarding Team on 0191 243 3305 or find further contact details here.

  2. Safe Spaces’ is an independent service supporting survivors of church-related abuse. This independent service is run by the charity Victim Support and is free to access via telephone – 0300 303 1056 (answerphone available outside of opening times), email – safespaces@victimsupport.org, or web–chat via www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk.

  3. Other organisations offering support can also be found via the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service at https://www.csas.uk.net/.