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06 October 2016

URC continues past case review

URC continues past case review

The United Reformed Church (URC) has launched the second phase of its past case review into abuse within the church.

Members of the public are being invited to raise any concerns about the behaviour or conduct of URC affiliates.

The first phase reviewed all URC ministers' files.

Rev Richard Church, the URC's deputy general secretary (discipleship), is responsible for the review. He said: "We are committed to listening to people's experiences, taking each complaint seriously and responding appropriately.

"We will offer practical care with churches and synods giving pastoral support as they can, while the URC website will also include details of a range of support services outside the church."

Of the first phase of the review, Rev Church said: "A specialist team read the records of everyone who held ministerial office from 1972 onwards, around 2,500 files, to look for any historic incidents of inappropriate behaviour or abuse that may have been overlooked at the time.

"Some significant cases emerged, but the majority were found to have been handled appropriately at the time."

The Alliance is working with member organisation Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) to equip and support churches who wish to undertake past case reviews.

You can read CCPAS' article on safer culture here.

In recent weeks the inquiry has suffered another set back with the resignation of both the head of the inquiry and it's most senior lawyer.

Justin Humphreys, executive director (Safeguarding) of CCPAS, said: "We welcome the past cases review being undertaken by the URC. The wider Church has a responsibility to ensure that it both hears and then acts appropriately to reports of misconduct, inappropriate behaviour, harmful or abusive acts of those in positions of trust and responsibility.

"It is time to acknowledge that appropriate responses have not always been given in the past and in undertaking this review, the URC are adopting a good practice approach to providing this opportunity.

"It also provides an excellent opportunity to improve practice for the future by learning lessons from the manner in which relevant cases have been managed in the past.

"We fully support this review and will be providing independent advice to the process as described by Rev Church. Indeed, we would encourage other denominations, groups and organisations who have not embarked on such a review, to consider this strongly in the interests of all those who may have been harmed in the past without appropriate redress and support."

If you want to raise a concern, individuals are invited to share basic contact details by secure phone, email or web form on the URC website (www.urc.org.uk/past-case-review) by 31 March 2017.

You can find out more information about the review and the process of raising a concern, including pastoral support, on the URC website.