News round-up: December 2019

01 January 2020, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from December 2019.  To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

Thirtyone:eight in the news:

>> Actions of an influential evangelical pastor to be reviewed by independent Christian safeguarding charity

This article covers the lessons learnt review that will take place into the alleged harm caused by conservative evangelical pastor Jonathan Fletcher. In June this year, reports came out that claimed Fletcher, the vicar of Emmanuel Church Wimbledon from 1982 until 2012, used physical discipline on other men when mentoring targets weren't met and received massages from people he had oversight over. Thirtyone:eight have been commissioned to undertake a robust and comprehensive exploration of both good practice and failings in culture and safeguarding practice at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon from 1982 to the present.

>> UN peacekeepers 'fathered hundreds of children in Haiti mission', report says

A report which interviewed thousands of people in Haiti found numerous cases of transactional sex for food or money. Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Ontario University spoke to 2,500 people in Haiti, asking them about their experience of the UN's Stabilisation Mission in Haiti which became one of the longest-running peacekeeping mission. More than 10%, 265 people, described stories which featured children fathered by peacekeeping agents.

>> SPAC Nation: Church group 'financially exploited members'

An evangelical church praised for helping ex-gang members has been accused of financially exploiting young people from its congregation. One member of charity SPAC Nation said she was persuaded to commit benefit fraud by a trustee, while another said she had a £5,000 loan taken out in her name without her knowledge. A former senior insider told the BBC that the church "has to be shut down". SPAC Nation denies the church is financially exploiting young people.

>> ‘Nearly 19,000 children’ sexually groomed in England in the past year

The Home Office has said it will “leave no stone unturned” in its bid to tackle child sexual grooming after it was reported that nearly 19,000 minors in England were exploited in the past year. Latest figures show a sharp increase in the number of child grooming victims over the last five years. Local authorities identified around 18,700 suspected victims in 2018-19, up from 3,300 five years ago, the website reported.

>> Met Commissioner reported for alleged misconduct over Operation Midland failures

Dame Cressida Dick has been reported for alleged misconduct over her role in the disastrous Operation Midland investigation. Harvey Proctor, the former Tory MP, lodged a formal complaint with the Mayor of London's office, accusing the Met Commissioner of a dereliction of duty during the opening weeks of the inquiry in 2014. Mr Proctor was investigated by Scotland Yard for more than a year when fantasist Carl Beech told detectives he had been raped and abused by him and other high profile figures in the 1970s.

>> Harvey Weinstein trial: What you need to know

Jury selection has begun in the trial of Harvey Weinstein, once one of Hollywood's most successful producers, who was behind hit films including Shakespeare in Love, The King's Speech and Pulp Fiction. In 2017, dozens of sexual assault allegations emerged against the movie mogul. Now he is standing trial and could face life in jail if convicted. The trial process started in Manhattan, New York. It is likely to take around two weeks to select 12 jurors before the trial gets underway in earnest.

>> Pope lifts 'pontifical secret' rule over sex abuse

The Pope has declared that the rule of "pontifical secrecy" no longer applies to the sexual abuse of minors, in a bid to improve transparency in such cases. The Church previously shrouded sexual abuse cases in secrecy, in what it said was an effort to protect the privacy of victims and reputations of the accused. But new papal documents issued in December lifted restrictions on those who report abuse or say they have been victims.