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.
Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford calls for legal definition of child criminal exploitation”
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”