Catholic Church in England conducts review of child safety practices

The Roman Catholic Church said it has conducted a full review of child safety practices in the South West of England after a paedophile abuse investigator was jailed for 12 months for child porn offences.

Christopher Jarvis (aged 49) a married father-of-four, was employed by the church in 2002 as a child safety coordinator following the 2001 Nolan Report on abuse by members of the clergy, with a remit to investigate historic claims of child abuse, including interviewing the victims when they were adults.

As a member of the Devon and Cornwall Multi-agency Safeguarding Team, he also worked with police officers and social services and had access to private information about vulnerable victims of child abuse.

But he was arrested in March this year after uploading five images of pre-pubescent boys on to the Ning social networking website.

Police officers who traced him to his home in Plymouth, Devon, found more than 4,000 child porn images on his church-supplied computer and a memory stick, including scenes of child rape. They were mainly of boys aged 10 to 12, but also some of young girls, the court heard.

In a statement released after the court hearing, David Pond, the chairman of the independent Child Safeguarding Commission for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, said an independent review of child protection across the South West of England, including cases Jarvis had been involved with, had been carried out by the NSPCC charity and found no evidence that he had acted improperly in his role with the church.

“The church is and remains absolutely committed to ensuring that a safe environment exists for all in the church, and the knowledge that Jarvis was himself guilty of such offences has been a great shock to the many people who had placed their trust in him and worked with him to protect vulnerable children and adults,” he said.

“He was a fully qualified social worker and came to the role following a competitive recruitment process being of good character and with very good references.

“We need to be continually vigilant and aware of the need to have reliable checks and controls in place to manage the risk to vulnerable children and adults and we will continue to review and improve our responses to all forms of abuse.

“As well as safe systems, we are considering how best to support all those who suffer as a direct result of abuse.

“It is important to remember that the images on the computer screen are not just pictures – they are images of real children being abused, often in the most terrifying of circumstances.”

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