The body responsible for reviewing the protection of children within the Catholic Church has said its work has been hampered by the under-reporting of abuse by Church authorities.
The National Body for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) found that in the period from April 1, 2010 to March 31 this year, 53 new allegations of abuse were reported to them.
However when the body asked for confirmation of the figures, it emerged that 272 allegations of abuse were made, representing an increase on the previous year's number of 197.
While the vast number of cases are historic, the NBSCCC said it was impossible to say how many cases were new.
The group was asked to undertake a national review of safeguarding last June. So far, it has only been able to review three dioceses, out of 26.
The religious bodies told the NBSCCC that they had concerns about data protection.