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23 January 2014

More needs to be done to protect children in churches

More needs to be done to protect children in churches

CCPAS and the Evangelical Alliance work together to help churches ensure safeguards are water-tight.

The children of Christians with a strong commitment are potentially at greater risk of abuse because their parents are more prone to obeying their church leaders without question, according to the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS).

This chilling warning was given by CCPAS following the publication of the Foundations of Abuse report from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP).

The report found that children within institutions, such as churches, are still not safe from child sex abuse and more needs to be done to protect them. It also insisted that management structures can make it easier for offenders to abuse children and people can fail to report allegations to the police because they are concerned to protect the institution's reputation.

CCPAS is working together with the Evangelical Alliance to do more to protect children and ensure that churches are adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

CCPAS provides specialist safeguarding advice and training to UK churches, para-church organisations, and groups relating to the protection of children and adults at risk of abuse and harm. It also conducts disclosure checks and operates a free 24/7 confidential helpline

The partnership will help churches and organisations ensure they have access to protection services, specialist advice, have the proper safeguarding policies in place and understand the new Disclosure and Barring System (DBS), which has replaced the old Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

Simon Bass, chief executive officer of CCPAS, said: "Unscrupulous leaders may be able to exploit the respect and, often, unquestioning obedience they receive from their more committed members as cover for their abuse, because they are less likely to believe their leaders could, or would, ever offend.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "We understand how imperative it is for churches to be impeccable at safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in their care. As the body of Christ we are called to be a safe place for all."

"The key lesson," adds Simon, "is that Christians most involved in church activities must make sure children are safe at all times. If they have suspicions, they should both report them immediately and ensure that they are investigated properly."

It is agreed that churches must implement and monitor safeguarding policies and ensure that no one may hold a position of responsibility without first having been through a rigorous safer recruitment process.

The Evangelical Alliance is offering member churches and organisations access to CCPAS services at a discounted rate and will recommend their expertise. CCPAS provide a Disclosure service and Safe and Secure safeguarding material in a dedicated members' area on their website.

Through the Alliance, member churches and organisations can save 20 per cent on the rates for the Disclosure service. Members will also benefit from a five to 10 per cent reduction in the rates for a range of specialist safeguarding services. These include policy development, crisis management, specialist advice and bespoke training.

Simon concluded: "It is vital that churches know what to do and how to find their way round the new system. Through this agreement with the Evangelical Alliance we are hoping the message spreads even wider and more churches access our specialist services and resources. We must protect the vulnerable."