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26 July 2016

CCPAS urges churches to prepare for child abuse inquiry

CCPAS urges churches to prepare for child abuse inquiry

Alliance member The Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) is urging churches to prepare for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), also known as the Goddard Inquiry, which will start hearing evidence from survivors of abuse this week.

The inquiry, set up in 2015 and chaired by Dame Lowell Goddard QC, has been contacted by more than 2,000 people and will hear more than 600 testimonies.

Churches and other religious institutions will come under scrutiny during the inquiry with Justice Goddard looking at "failings by two major religious institutions in England and Wales, namely the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church".

The Goddard Inquiry is likely to have an impact across the UK Church, and will inform and determine future safeguarding practices within churches and organisations.

Following the Inquiry's preliminary hearing in March, the Church of England said: "As a Church we will be offering full cooperation and are committed to working in an open and transparent way, with a survivor-informed response.

"We are already reviewing our 2008 Past Cases Review, referred to in today's hearing."

Other denominations and faith communities can expect to be investigated, along with missionary organisations with regards to their duty to protect children abroad.

These investigations will look at the adequacy of policies and procedures, previous safeguarding reviews, including past cases, and specific safeguarding cases involving dioceses, schools, congregations and religious orders and individuals.

In 2015 the Methodist Church published Courage, Cost and Hope – a report on the Past Cases Review conducted into safeguarding cases related to the Church between 1950 and 2014, and issued a full and unreserved apology to survivors and victims of abuse.

The review invited anyone with any knowledge of a previous or current concern to respond. The Church commissioned an independent expert who reviewed all the responses and advise the Church on any action that needed to be taken.

The review was led by former deputy chief executive of Barnardo's, Jane Stacey, who said: "It was a courageous act for the Methodist Church to launch such a comprehensive Past Cases Review.

"Even more courageous was the response from the survivors or victims who relived very difficult experiences to contribute to the review, either directly or through a third party.

"There are many lessons to be learnt, but the most challenging are those that require a significant culture change throughout the church, and particularly for ministers and church leaders."

CCPAS are now suggesting other denominations to take similar action, as the inquiry could widen once the Anglican and Catholic churches have been investigated.

What you can do:

  • Consider whether your church should undertake a past cases review – CCPAS can help guide you through the procedure
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date child protection policy
  • Ensure all those working with children and young people in the church or on the church premises have up-to-date DBS checks.
  • If you have been a victim of abuse you can share your experience with the Inquiry – visit the inquiry website.

The inquiry is expected to last for many years, and the Alliance is being guided by CCPAS as to how to help churches in their biblical imperative of telling the truth about the possibility of past mistakes.

To learn more about what your church can do to ensure current child protection procedure is up to date, visit the CCPAS website.

As a member of the Evangelical Alliance, CCPAS is one of 600 organisations supported by the Alliance. We facilitate members' initiatives and campaigns and offer support to increase their impact and provide training for organisations on how to engage with the local government and media.

If you would like to become a member of the Evangelical Alliance as an organisation, church or individual, you can find out more here.