More than 50 Catholic priests in England and Wales have been "defrocked" since 2001 to protect children and vulnerable adults from clerical sex abuse, it has been revealed.

The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) said 52 priests had their ordained powers revoked by the church following the implementation of new rules to combat the well-publicised litany of abuses.

The statistics are revealed as the commission said there were 81 child abuse allegations made last year alone in England and Wales – a leap from 59 in 2012.

The NCSC attribute the rise in allegations last year to the Jimmy Saville scandal that resulted in a surge in calls to child abuse survivor support groups.

New procedures to tackle prolific sex abuse scandals of paedophile priests in the Catholic Church were implemented after late Lord Nolan made 83 recommendations to improve child protection in 2001.

Worldwide, around 400 priests were defrocked between 2011 and 2012 by the former Pope over child abuse claims, the Vatican said.

Danny Sullivan, chairman of the NCSC said: "For 11 years now in the Church we have made it clear that if anybody comes forward with allegations, whether current allegations, or ones from the past, we will automatically refer it to the statutory authorities."

But child abuse charities are cautious about heaping "unfettered praise" on the church over the new figures.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: "We cannot have people in this position of huge trust and responsibility being given free rein to abuse children or vulnerable adults. I know from personal experience having spoken to many victims that there is still work to be done.

"I am not heaping unfettered praise on the Church but clearly there is an element of giving some credit for what they (the Catholic safeguarding staff) are trying to do."