Here are our top safeguarding stories from August 2020. To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:
Church urged to be eyes and ears for those vulnerable to sex crimes as new shocking stats reveal issue is worsening
Justin Humphreys, CEO of Thirtyone:eight, has said it is vital for the Church to be aware of situations in which people can be at risk of sexual abuse. Justin made the comment after it was revealed that police forces in the United Kingdom recorded 73,518 offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in 2019/20, similar to the 73,379 the previous year but up 57 per cent from 46,738 in 2014/15
The Scottish government have updated their legislation and therefore practice regarding the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. The changes made by the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill 2020 mean a PVG check is now mandatory for all regulated activity (it was not a legal requirement previously). It is also no longer a "for life" scheme, instead, the scheme membership lasts for five years, after which a person must reapply. Updated scheme information can be found here All charities can apply for PVG checks through Volunteer Scotland and they can now complete most applications electronically too.
The lead bishop on safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has agreed that the C of E’s system needs “root-and-branch change” to improve its response to abuse survivors. In August abuse survivors, lawyers, academics, and members of the clergy and the General Synod wrote to Baroness Stowell, who chairs the Charity Commission, urging her to intervene to address “the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress” for victims and survivors of abuse.
More than one in ten of the almost 5,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse who have made disclosures to the Truth Project were speaking about their experiences for the first time, new research by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has found. The Truth Project was launched by the Inquiry in 2016 to help with its investigations. Since then, almost 5,000 people have given personal accounts, 300 of whom have done so remotely in the past four months; 4269 have been analysed for research purposes.
Anxiety levels among young teenagers dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, a study has suggested. Thirteen to 14-year-olds were less anxious during lockdown than they had been last October, according to the University of Bristol survey. Researchers surveyed 1,000 secondary school children in south west England. Caroline Ryder, from Warwickshire, said her sons, aged 13 and 15, missed friends but had been happier and calmer, with less conflict over homework or school behaviour issues.
An hour-long film on BBC Two in August looked at the suffering caused by Carl Beech’s false accusations, Scotland Yard launching Operation Midland in response and Beech’s eventual imprisonment. Beech was jailed for 18 years in July 2019 for perverting the course of justice, fraud, and child sex crimes. He made allegations against the ex-chief of the defence staff, Lord Bramall, and politicians Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan and Harvey Proctor. His claims led to a £2.5m inquiry by Scotland Yard - Operation Midland. No action resulted from his allegations and the inquiry was closed.
Abuse of women and children was covered up by senior members of a disgraced religious sect, according to a report leaked to the BBC. All five surviving leaders of the now-defunct Jesus Army were found to have colluded with sexual offenders through their handling of complaints. The report followed an inquiry commissioned by the church in 2017.
Paris Hilton will open up about the abuse she suffered as a teenager whilst at boarding school in Utah as she launches a new YouTube documentary. Hilton left the school-aged 18 in 1999, but was too scared to tell anyone about her time at Provo Canyon. “I was so grateful to be out of there, I didn’t even want to bring it up again,” she said. “It was just something I was ashamed of and I didn’t want to speak of it.”