02 September 2021
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has today released a report of the investigation into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings.
The Secretary of the Conference, the Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler said: “The Methodist Church welcomes today’s report, we are grateful for the work of the Chair and Panel for their consideration of the issues surrounding safeguarding and the recommendations which we hope will be of benefit to the children and vulnerable people in our churches. While it will take time for us to study today’s report, early indications are that it includes many areas where religious organisations are still failing their members and we are truly sorry for where this happens in our churches.
“The report makes two recommendations; the first on policy, procedures and training and the second around legislation for unregistered institutions providing full-time education. The first recommendation largely reflects our existing policy and procedures and stresses the need for regular updates. We will examine our child protection policy along with the procedures and training as part of our ongoing cycle of learning and review to see what changes might be needed in light of the report. We will await Government advice on the second recommendation.
“We note the report’s mention of a general lack of support for victims of abuse among religious organisations. We will continue to review and improve our support to victims and survivors and we apologise where this has not happened as it should have done.
“We are grateful to the Panel for recognising positive child protection practice in the Church including our safer recruitment and internal auditing processes.
“There can be never be any excuse for failings in safeguarding and it is the responsibility of everyone connected with the Methodist Church to uphold the highest standards in order to protect children and vulnerable people.
“We have learnt much of how our response can be improved from our Survivors’ Advisory Group and we are grateful to them for sharing their experiences and working with us to make our systems and support better for all. We welcome the report’s conclusion that child protection work should be ‘victim focussed’ and we will continue to work with and be led by the SAG to achieve this.
“We are grateful to the Chair and Panel for the work they have done in producing this report and to the victims and survivors of abuse for their bravery in taking part in the inquiry.”
The hearing started in March 2020 and was delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown. The Methodist Church was asked to take part along with other religious organisations with a significant presence in England and Wales including non-conformist Christian denominations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, representatives of Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. While the Methodist Church was not called to give evidence at the hearing, it provided written submissions.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up by the Government after concerns that some organisations were failing and continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse. After each of the 15 hearings, the Inquiry’s panel which is chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, makes recommendations to help better protect children in the future.