“I praise the emergency services and the police for their sensitivity in the way they have addressed this, but they are doing so within a culture that often treats religion as a private matter.”
The House of Lords considered the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Committee on 22nd November 2021. The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate on an amendment to the Bill from Baroness Stowell of Beeston about police procedure on religious rituals or prayer at crime scenes:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, this is very sensitive territory. Dying is sacred and is part of our living. I think I am the only minister of religion here, and I have accompanied many people, including my own father, to and through their death. If you have been party to that, you will know that it is holy territory
One could say that violent death is even more holy because of how that dying has been brought about. It seems that there needs to be religious literacy on the part of the emergency services and the police, and that the religious bodies need also to improve their literacy in relation to the nature of these events and how they are dealt with.
Continue reading “Police Bill: Bishop of Leeds speaks on amendment on access to crime and accident scenes for ministers of religion”
On 22nd November 2021 in the House of Lords Lord Moylan asked the Government “what plans they have to establish a multi-professional strategy for the emergency services concerning the attendance of ministers of religion at the scene of situations involving serious injury”. The Bishop of Coventry asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I greatly welcome the joint study group announced by the cardinal archbishop. Does the Minister agree that good outcomes from that study would include both further training and education to ensure that police officers understand the significance of spiritual comfort at the point of death, for the dying of whatever faith, and an increased role for police chaplaincy?
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks about training for police on access for ministers of religion to dying people at scenes of accident or injury”
On 3rd December 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill 2020 at its Committee Stage. The Bishop of Durham had co-sponsored two amendments aimed at restricting or regulating the use of children as covert agents. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in his place, in support of the amendments. As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 43, in the names of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Chakrabarti and Lady Bull, and Amendment 60, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. As we have heard, both concern the treatment of children.
We should not for a moment underestimate some of the evils in our society that the Government and the forces of law and order are tasked with confronting. Some of those evils involve the abuse of children and vulnerable people, including, as we know, the scourge of county lines drug gangs, sexual predators and traffickers. It does not take much imagination to see how, as a result of this, there is a periodic temptation to use children as covert assets. We must clearly guard against that temptation; as we have already been reminded, our first duty must be to the care and well-being of children. This applies all the more to children who find themselves in vulnerable and harmful situations, such as those used and abused by criminal gangs.
Continue reading “Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill: Bishop of Carlisle supports amendment to prevent use of children as covert agents”
On 11th November the House of Lords debated the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, raising concerns about the risks to the safety of children:
The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, I too would like to welcome the noble and learned Minister to the House and to his new role. Not many find their maiden speech to be that of introducing a Bill to the House, and I congratulate him on the necessarily blended speech.
I welcome the Government’s move to provide a statutory basis for covert human intelligence sources to participate in criminal conduct, where it is necessary and proportionate to do so for a limited set of specified purposes. We recognise the heavy duty placed on government to protect its citizens, and this Bill is a necessary step so that those undertaking these activities with a view to protecting the public can be clear in their status and duties.
However, while welcoming the intent behind this Bill, I am concerned that safeguards should be properly scrutinised, in particular when they concern the treatment of children. Continue reading “Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child safety fears”
On 10th November Lord Ramsbotham asked the Government “when they plan to announce (1) the chair, (2) the timeframe, and (3) the terms of reference, for the Royal Commission on criminal justice.” The Bishop of Durham asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent crimes often get stuck in a so-called revolving door, with serious consequences to their family relationships, housing and rehabilitation. Will the commission be considering reports into the issues around short sentences and consider alternatives to custodial sentences, to enable rehabilitation in the community? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks if criminal justice Royal Commission will examine short sentences”
On 3rd August the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on prosecutions in relation to forced marriages.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL7247 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prosecutions were initiated in relation to forced marriage in (1) 2014, (2) 2015, (3) 2016, (4) 2017, (5) 2018, and (5) 2019; and how many such prosecutions were successful in each year.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about forced marriage prosecutions”
On 23rd June 20202 the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a question following a statement from the Government on the terrorist attacks in Reading on 20th June.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: The Minister has referred to the extra £90 million for counterterrorism. Is this ring-fenced and will it be continued in future years? Secondly, what reassurances and protections are being given to minority communities, which will be feeling very vulnerable at this point?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about reassurances to minority communities following Reading attack”
On 3rd February 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Harris of Haringey, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve the safety and security of public venues, and whether they intend to introduce a Protect duty under the CONTEST strategy for countering terrorism.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, for securing this debate and for making the points he made.
I live but a few minutes’ walk from the location of yesterday’s incident in Streatham, and my prayers go to those affected by yet another attack born of hate and callous disregard of God’s image reflected in the other. I too pay tribute to the rapid response of our emergency services, not least the police, who were tracking the individual, and to the ambulance service. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks questions about aim and intent of new counterterrorism laws”
On 3rd February 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a statement made in the House of Commons by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on the terror attack in Streatham the previous afternoon. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, responded to the statement:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I have nothing but admiration for the response of the emergency services and the police in this incident, in the recent one at Fishmongers’ Hall, and in the one two and a half years ago at London Bridge, very near my cathedral. It is incumbent on me to try to correct what might be a mishearing of an earlier contribution. The response of the community in each of these cases has been remarkable and resilient. A major part of that response has come from the Muslim community, which has shown its conviction and commitment to peace-desiring and law-abiding ways of living and supporting the wider nation. The Statement said nothing about this because it did not have to, but I feel incumbent as a Bishop to do so. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark hails “remarkable and resilient” community response to Streatham attack”
On 9th January 2020 the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, spoke during the fourth day of debate in the House on the Queen’s Speech, about serious youth violence:
Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I wish to raise the issue of local services that are likely to have a positive impact on serious youth violence, in particular knife crime. I appreciate that the criminal justice system was key to yesterday’s debate on the gracious Speech, and indeed the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester touched briefly on knife crime in that context. However, I wish to concentrate not on policing per se, nor on the actions of the courts, prison or probation services, but on those of other local agencies. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark responds to Queen’s Speech – serious youth violence”