News: Church to take major steps in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
29 June 2015
- Apology to survivors and victims of abuse
Today the Methodist Conference has vowed to make significant
changes to its policy and procedures in a move to make the Church a
safer place for all. This follows the publication in May of an
independent review of past safeguarding cases related to the Church
from 1950 to 2014.
Past Cases Review identified 1,885 past cases, which
included physical, emotional, domestic and sexual abuse as well as
cases of neglect. In approximately one quarter of these cases,
church ministers or lay employees were identified as the
perpetrators or alleged perpetrators.
The Conference discussed the findings of the Review and
appointed an implementation group to take forward the report's 23
recommendations. Former Barnardo's Deputy Chief Executive
Jane Stacey, who led the independent review, has been appointed
as a member of the implementation group, which will be chaired by
the Revd Gwyneth Owen.
"The Past Cases Review has undoubtedly been a wake-up call for
the Church, and one we cannot ignore" said Revd Owen. "The
recommendations of the report are many and wide-ranging but at the
heart of it all lies the need to bring about significant cultural
change. Safeguarding is not just something that is done by
specialists. It cannot be reduced to criminal records checks and
staff training programmes. Safeguarding is everyone's
responsibility and each one of us has a duty to do what we can to
make the Church a safe place for everyone."
The recommendations include improvements to record keeping and
storage, a review of all current safeguarding training materials
and the identification of further resources to support victims and
survivors of abuse. One of the most urgent concerns highlighted by
the recommendations is the need for greater levels of
accountability and supervision, as well as a formal code of
conduct, for ministers. Additionally, selection criteria for senior
church positions will be developed to include awareness of and
ability to deal effectively with safeguarding issues. Until the
Methodist Church has more robust accountability processes in place
and fully operational, there will be an annual independent audit of
progress on the recommendations.
Addressing the Conference, General Secretary the
Revd Dr Martyn Atkinsreiterated the Church's apology for the
failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect
children, young people and adults from abuse inflicted by some
ministers and members of the Methodist Church.
"It is essential that we recognise the failings of the past," he
said. "However, without a commitment to change and the willingness
to take the hard steps to achieve that change, we know that an
apology alone could never be enough. This is the challenge that
lies before the Church today and will be a continuing challenge for
us for many years to come."
Outside the Conference hall a group of volunteers invited
Conference members to engage with
'Broken Biscuits' - a visual response to the Past Cases
Review. The installation comprised a display of 1,885 broken
biscuits on 19 canvases, symbolising the 1,885 cases identified by
Read the report on the
Implementation of the Past Cases Review.