26 May 2021, The Tablet

Safeguarding: giving voice to the voiceless

Nazir Afzal profile

Safeguarding: giving voice to the voiceless

Nazir Afzal, the new chair of the CSSA, speaking at the Hay Festival in 2019
Photo: Alamy, Steven May


Nazir Afzal, the man who will lead the Catholic Church’s work on child safety, has an impressive track record in combating sexual abuse, and an understanding of the role of religion in people’s lives – he is a practising Muslim

It’s an all too common story. A young teenager cultivated by a friendly adult finds kindness being replaced by unwanted sexual advances and then threats if she tells anyone about it. And when the adults do find out, nobody accepts her story and the authorities do nothing.

Sounds familiar? It’s happened to plenty of victims – male and female – of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s happened in plenty of communities across Britain. But in one neighbourhood something changed. Nazir Afzal, a lawyer from Birmingham, arrived in the north-west of England to become the chief prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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