On 27th April 2023, the House of Lords debated the Online Safety Bill in committee. The Bishop of Guildford spoke on behalf of the Bishop of Derby on amendments to the bill that she had tabled concerning protection of children from exploitation and trafficking:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 128, 130 and 132, as well as Amendments 143 to 153 in this grouping. They were tabled in the name of my right reverend colleague the Bishop of Derby, who is sorry that she cannot be here today.
The Church of England is the biggest provider of youth provision in our communities and educates around 1 million of our nation’s children. My colleague’s commitment to the principles behind these amendments also springs from her experience as vice chair of the Children’s Society. The amendments in this grouping are intended to strengthen legislation on online grooming for the purpose of child criminal exploitation, addressing existing gaps and ensuring that children are properly protected. They are also intended to make it easier for evidence of children being groomed online for criminal exploitation to be reported by online platforms to the police and the National Crime Agency.
Research from 2017 shows that one in four young people reported seeing illicit drugs advertised for sale on social media—a percentage that is likely to be considerably higher six years on. According to the Youth Endowment Fund in 2022, 20% of young people reported having seen online content promoting gang membership in the preceding 12 months, with 24% reporting content involving the carrying, use or promotion of weapons.
The Bishop of Exeter asked a question regarding government plans to support institutions in responding to and organising redress for incidences of child sexual abuse on 24th October 2022, following the publication of a final report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter: My Lords, those of us who sit on this Bench, along with all on other Benches in your Lordships’ House, are deeply saddened and ashamed by the harm and suffering experienced by victims and survivors of abuse. I salute the courage of survivors in coming forward to share their stories. We are determined to learn from the mistakes of the past and make the Church as safe a place as possible. That is why we welcome this final report and are already embracing its various recommendations with, for example, the Church of England’s redress board, which has a victims and survivors working group. In this respect, what exactly is the Government’s intention? Is it their preference to support institutions, including the Church, in establishing individual redress schemes? Or is it their intention to create a new overarching external regulatory body in this respect?
On 15th October 2020 MPs put questions to Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, on covid and church attendance, baptisms, weddings and funerals, IICSA, renting of church premises, and woodland holdings. A transcript is below:
On 24th July 2020 Baroness Burt of Solihull asked the Government, “further to the analysis by Refuge that showed that (1) the National Domestic Abuse Helpline received more than 40,000 calls and contacts during the first three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, and (2) calls and contacts increased by 77 per cent in June, published on 23 July, what plans they have to support victims of domestic abuse.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, can the Minister explain what action the Government are taking to respond specifically to the long-term emotional needs of children who are victims of domestic abuse? Also in that context, can he include work with perpetrators, who are often male and often the father, with whom children might have had a bond that they value?
On 29th April 2020 during a virtual sitting of the House of Lords, Baroness Burt of Solihull asked the Government “what practical measures they are taking to address domestic abuse as part of their strategy on the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a follow-up question:
On 19th July 2019 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the Victims of Crime (Rights, Entitlements, and Notification of Child Sexual Abuse) Bill, a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Brinton. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester:My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for bringing forward this Bill and applaud the intention to give a stronger statutory position for victims of crime, especially in relation to the code and the role of the commissioner. The noble Baroness spoke of the “dignity and respect” with which we should treat the victims of crime. In my capacity as Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, I often find myself in conversations about treating with dignity and respect the perpetrators of crime. It seems obvious that we should accord at least the same to victims of crime. In the context of this debate, I am proud that my diocese has become the first English diocese formally to sign a partnership arrangement with the White Ribbon campaign in relation to male violence against women and recruiting of champions.Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester welcomes Bill on victims of crime and reporting abuse”
On 9th July 2019 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “what is their response to the report by The Children’s Society, Counting Lives: responding to children who are criminally exploited, published on 5 July”. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, following up on that last question, the grooming patterns of children and young people, whether for sexual exploitation or criminal exploitation, are almost exactly the same. It took us ages to achieve a proper definition of exploitation of children in the sex industry. We should not make the same mistake again. It seems that what we need to do, and I ask the Government to consider this, is create a legally binding definition of child criminal exploitation that makes it absolutely clear that the vast majority of these children, some as young as 10 years old, are victims.
On 20th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion tabled by Lord Campbell-Savours, “To move that this House takes note of the remit of, and arrangements for the handling of evidence by, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, spoke in the debate. That speech and extracts from others is reproduced below. The full debate can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I am grateful for the clarity with which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has spoken and am glad to follow him in this debate. I can speak today with direct experience of the work of IICSA and its handling of evidence. In March this year, the inquiry held public hearings over 14 days in its case study of the Chichester diocese, in which I gave written and oral evidence. As part of that case study, the inquiry has also heard evidence from survivors of sexual abuse. I begin today by asking the House to keep in mind the courage, and personal cost, with which survivors have been willing to share their testimony.
The inquiry has had from the start, and continues to have, the unequivocal support of the institutions of the Church of England.
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?
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:
You must be logged in to post a comment.