Tag Archives: Kaya Burgess – Times Religious Affairs Correspondent

February 8 2018 – “Church of England dealing with thousands of sex abuse allegations” – The Times – Kaya Burgess

Church of England dealing with thousands of sex abuse allegations

About a fifth of the 3,300 allegations being dealt with in 2016 were made against clergy and other church officials
About a fifth of the 3,300 allegations being dealt with in 2016 were made against clergy and other church officialsGETTY IMAGES
The Church of England is dealing with more than 3,000 reports of sexual abuse within its parishes.

The most recent figures for 2016 show that dioceses were dealing with 3,300 “concerns or allegations”, the vast majority related to “children, young people and vulnerable adults within church communities”.

About a fifth of the reports were made against clergy and other church officials, with the rest relating to other members of the congregation who perform unofficial roles or volunteer within the church. The 3,300 figure related to both open cases and those newly reported that year. It is not known how many involved active claims against the church for compensation.

The figures were revealed by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Right Rev Peter Hancock, who is the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding issues. He issued the figures in response to a written question from Kat Alldread, a lay member of the church’s General Synod, which starts its three-day meeting today.

The bishop said that in 2016 alone 338 risk assessments were carried out by the church’s dioceses, of which 19 per cent were carried out on priests. In the same year, 867 “safeguarding agreements” were in place, made when someone is believed to pose a risk to young or vulnerable people and must agree to be monitored or to restrict their interaction with possible victims of abuse.

Of these 867 agreements, 682 related to known sex offenders.

Bishop Hancock was also asked whether it was right for the church to refer to those who made abuse allegations as “victims” or “survivors” instead of “complainants”.

He replied that church guidance stated that the terms were used without making any judgment about the veracity of the allegations and explains: “This guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.”

The church commissioned Lord Carlile of Berriew to conduct an independent investigation into the church’s handling of abuse allegations made against George Bell, the revered former bishop who was posthumously accused of abusing a child. The report criticised the church for “rushing to judgment” in declaring that he was likely to have committed the abuse and paying out compensation of almost £17,000 to his alleged victim, who is now in her 70s.

Bishop Hancock revealed that the review cost the church £38,000 in addition to any costs incurred by dioceses that were asked to provide information.

He also said that bishops would look at ways to “strengthen independent oversight” of the church’s safeguarding practices.

The bishop said that there were no plans to change church laws that state that general complaints against clergy must be made within a year of the alleged incident for them to be dealt with under Clergy Discipline Measure but he said that this one-year limit had been removed in cases of alleged sexual misconduct towards children or vulnerable adults.

23 comments
MJJ

A good job Carey is no longer in charge. His compulsion to reward abusers might get near bankrupting the Church. Sickening to remember how the then leader of the Church of England took the part of a despicable sex abuser, provided funds for his escape from justice and, cherry on the top, withheld evidence from the police. Now he has the nerve to whinge because people express their disapproval (for my part, utter contempt) of his conduct and his lucrative little part time bishopric is snatched from him.

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I must say that I will need convincing that other clerics, those self styled “men of god” are so very different. Their aim is to protect their church, and if it costs the happiness, or even the sanity, of their many victims, then too bad!

John D Finlay 

IMO religion of any kind is about power, pure and simple. Invented/developed so that some should have power over others and generally enforced by a set of rules constructed to purport to tell the majority how they should live their lives. Of course those who do not follow the rules are severely punished.

Peter O’Toole 

The article relates to the C of E, yet the headline photo is of a Roman Catholic priest’s collar.

Both branches of British Christianity have a lot to answer for, but try to get the details right .

MJJ 

I’m sure most of us don’t consider CofE clerics so very different from their Catholic counterparts, and who really cares about the different styles of their collars. Badges of honour for hypocrites some would say

Pumpiepants 

682 agreements relate to known sex offenders. Not sure why the church engages these people in the first place. Surely, a policy of zero tolerance, zero engagement is better than exposing young people to the prospect of sexual abusers. The scars of sexual abuse can last a very long time.

Leanora Munn 

““This guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.” ”

Victims/survivors are not neutral terms. If you want an even field it’s victim/survivor and perpetrator, or complainant and respondent.

Doc Torrants 

On a serious note…I have experienced at first hand the inadequate safeguarding procedures of a local church where the leadership was intent on promoting a convicted paedophile to positions of responsibility within the church (initially without the knowledge of parents or  some members of the church leadership team)  and didn’t even think to have an agreement which said they shouldn’t attend family services.  A spectacular failure of the Daily Mail Test (apologies for using bad words) .   After having had my concerns repeatedly ignored by the leadership, the incoming safeguarding officer took them seriously and some of these issues have been addressed.   As a practising christian I believe in forgiveness and redemption.  As a parent and health professional I also believe in appropriate safeguarding procedures and these should be of  paramount importance.

Let’s ask ourselves a simple question…in the history of the church, both anglican and catholic, how many serious problems reported on the front page of the national press have arisen from being too strict with respect to safeguarding and erring on the side of caution?  Anyone?  No?  And another question…how likely is it that a convicted paedophile would knowingly be employed in a school, as opposed to a church?  We need to get real with a bit of muscular christianity.

And finally on a frivolous note: as a child of the Blackadder era I am amazed that the Bishop of Bath and Wells would be in charge of safeguarding.  We all know his proclivities 😉

James 

To be fair and very few commenting on here are, can anybody point to institutions such as political parties, every religious group, police, armed forces, public sector, private sector sports clubs, education, all races  that hasn’t been guilty of covering up.

I bet we are all in one of those groups where those in charge have been at best slow to contact the police or in the case some downright frown on anybody reporting somebody from their group to one who isn’t .

Part of the problem is that far too many jump up and condemn very quickly when its not one of their “gang”.

Andy Webb 

@James

That is blatant whataboutery James.

Yes, these things happen in all walks of life, but this article is about the church of England and sex abuse……..again!

Bishop Jonathan Blake 

Unaccountable clergy wielding autocratic authority, and disturbed individuals allured into membership and given access to vulnerable children creates a hotbed of perverse abusive relationships that sane members of the community would do well to avoid.

OutsidetheM25 

Who would dare let their children anywhere near the Church of England? It’s a giant institution run by, and for the benefit of, perverts. Best avoid.

Andrew Middlemiss 

“Of these 867 agreements, 682 related to known sex offenders.”

Meanwhile, on Planet Earth, known sex offenders are not allowed to work in schools.

You truly can’t make this story up; yet again the Church is showing itself to be an anachronism, unworthy of respect.

Malcolm Gray 

@Andrew Middlemiss I am not clear that these 682 relate to people who work for the church – I think they probably include people who attend services – an agreement that said X may not attend services that children attend would seem to agree with your comment?

Richard Moss 

“This guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.”

That is a distortion of the English language. The Church seems to want to be seen to be sympathetic to victims of abuse while making a passing nod to the principle of innocent until proven guilty. You can’t have a victim without a crime or attack  and a survivor must by definition have suffered an injury, attack or accident and survived it. Rigor and religion don’t seem to go well together.

BlueInTheFace 

“[Bishop Hancock] replied that church guidance stated that the terms [“victims” or “survivors” instead of “complainants”] were used without making any judgment about the veracity of the allegations and explains: “This guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.” ”

Another Bishop who seems to be able to talk out the wrong end of his alimentary canal while keeping a straight face.

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