On 13th March 2018 Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the national scale of the “grooming gang scandal”, including sexual exploitation of non-Muslim children by Muslim men, as emerged recently in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere; and what steps they are taking to enable the prosecution of those in the police and local authorities who have failed to prevent it.” The Lord Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I am enormously grateful for the Minister’s Answer to the Question. I had the great privilege to be the Bishop of Sheffield for seven years during the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham and I am now the Bishop of Oxford. I spent a great deal of time in Rotherham following Professor Jay’s report and registered the shock across all sections of the community, including, of course, the Muslim community there, who were as deeply appalled by what had happened as the rest of the community. I vividly remember visiting some parents at a mosque in Rotherham and hearing how their children were insulted by the rest of the community in words I will not repeat in this House. Will the Minister affirm the condemnation with which these scandals are greeted across the Muslim communities in each of these towns and cities?
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government to affirm Muslim communities’ condemnation of child sexual exploitation scandals”
On 9th November 2016, Baroness Miller asked Her Majesty’s Government “what urgent steps they will take to restore confidence in the Metropolitan Police following the conclusions of Sir Richard Henriques report into Operation Midland.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd. Nick Baines, asked a follow up question about the criteria used to determine whether to make public the name of someone under investigation for sexual offences:
On 5th September 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Graham Allen MP about the Church of England’s response to a report on abuse at Kendall House, Gravesend.
Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church of England plans to respond to the report by Professor Sue Proctor on abuse at Kendall House, Gravesend, published in July 2016. Continue reading “Church Commissioners Written Answer: Children in Care”
On 30th June 2016 Lord Lexden led a debate in the House of Lords, “That this House takes note of the case for introducing statutory guidelines relating to the investigation of cases of historical child sex abuse.” During the debate Lord Lexden raised the case of Bishop George Bell, as did Lord Carey and a number of other Peers. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, responded to the points made by those Peers about the Bell case and his speech is reproduced below, with extracts from the frontbench responses. All speeches made in the debate can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for bringing this debate before us and for the considered and careful way in which people have made their contributions. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, that this House has an important part to play in setting our moral compass on the issues we are discussing.
I wish to make it clear that I and the Church of England welcome the introduction of some statutory guidelines for responding to historic allegations. As we in the Church are acutely aware, this is a difficult and sensitive area, so responding well to such allegations is extremely important. If there was statutory guidance on such cases, it would be easier to respond well and consistently. That said, we are all aware that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse may make relevant recommendations, and it might be that the Government wish to wait for them before issuing guidance in this area.
The noble Lords, Lord Lexden and Lord Dear, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Carey, and others have raised the specific case of Bishop George Bell, and I want to reflect briefly on it. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford calls for statutory guidelines on historic abuse allegations, responds to concerns about George Bell case”
On 14th March 2016 Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that the police, social services and other agencies work together effectively to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I declare my interests in relation to safeguarding for the Church of England, in which connection I shall be at the Goddard inquiry on Wednesday morning. Will the Minister agree that prevention must stay at the top of the agenda for all agencies, both statutory and voluntary, in responding to the crime of child sexual abuse and, in so doing, recognise that potentially every single child is vulnerable and that grooming must be one area of concern? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham says prevention must stay at top of agenda for those tackling child abuse”
On 4th February 2015, a Government Statement on the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was repeated in the House of Lords by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, responded to the statement from the Bishops’ Benches:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am afraid that this is not a question but a brief statement, if I may. On behalf of the Church of England, we welcome—
Noble Lords: Would the Minister agree!
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: Thank you very much. Would the Minister agree that we in the Church of England welcome this inquiry hugely as well as the appointment of a new chair? We acknowledge our own failures as a church in the past, and assure the House that we have already instituted our own inquiries well in advance of the establishing of this panel. We will of course co-operate with the panel in absolutely every way we can. Continue reading “Statement on Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – Bishop of Carlisle Responds”
On 16th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on under-age marriages.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect girls who come to the United Kingdom already in under-age marriages. [HL3558]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Local authorities, with the help of other organisations as appropriate, have a duty to make enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. A belief that a girl may have been involved in an under-age marriage should lead to such an assessment.
Where a local authority encounters concerns about a child’s welfare that constitute, or may constitute, an offence against a child, social workers should discuss the case with the police at the earliest opportunity. Offences may have been committed by the girl’s parents, or by her ‘husband’. Legislation that came into force earlier in 2014 means that forced marriage is now a criminal offence. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – Underage Marriage (Written Answer)”