News roundup: March 2019

09 April 2019, Thirtyone:eight

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

>> Complaint lodged against Bishop of Chester

A serious misconduct complaint could be made against the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, by the Church of England. The complaint focuses on Dr Peter's response to a letter sent to him in 2009 by vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson who, in the note, confessed to child abuse.

Despite the admission, Mr Dickenson was permitted to stay on as a retired clergy member and hold services for another five years. He was jailed in March for child abuse during the 1970s. Permission is currently being sought to bring the complaint ‘out of time’. Under C of E rules there is a 12-month time limit between the date of the alleged misconduct and the lodging of the complaint.

>> Boris Johnson under fire over child abuse inquiries remarks

Boris Johnson has declared money spent on non-recent child abuse investigations as “spaffed up a wall”, prompting immediate criticism from Labour for making reckless and inappropriate comments. Mr Johnson was arguing that police time and resources were being wasted on crimes committed years ago as he was questioned on an LBC radio phone-in. He said: “You know, £60m I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing. What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?”

>> Figures released of people dismissed from aid sector

At least 91 people in the aid sector have been dismissed in relation to sexual exploitation and harassment allegations since the safeguarding scandal broke last year, the international development secretary has said. Speaking at a conference in London, Penny Mordaunt described the scandal as "watershed moment of shame" for the aid sector. She said: "As a result of your efforts the sector is cleaning up its act. It has higher safeguarding standards, predatory individuals are being found and brought to justice, their ability to harm the people we serve is being closed off and the people we serve are safer."

>> Smacking ban legislation announced in Wales

New legislation which would ban adults from being able to smack their children has been introduced in Wales. It comes as a private members bill in Scotland is currently being considered which would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law.

The Welsh Government wants to remove the common law defence of reasonable punishment which is currently available to parental figures if accused of assault or battery against a child. If passed the Children (Wales) Bill would act as the first divergence of core criminal law between Wales and England, where parents would still be able to legally physically punish a child as long as it is deemed “reasonable”.

>> Manchester City launch victim compensation scheme

Manchester City could start making compensation payouts and issuing private apologies to victims of historical child sexual abuse within months following the launch of a “survivors’ scheme” by the Premier League champions.

A redress scheme, which is the first of its kind to be set up by one of the clubs implicated in the football sexual abuse scandal, will see survivors of the most serious crimes receive six-figure sums in damages.

>> Charity urges people to spot trafficking as figures in UK rise

A Christian charity has described recent data on the number of modern slavery cases involving UK children as "alarming." The National Crime Agency (NCA) found that the number of potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery reported to the authorities has risen by more than 80 per cent in two years. There were more than 1,400 cases of modern slavery involving UK minors last year alone.

>> Michael Jackson estate launches PR blitz as documentary airs

Michael Jackson’s estate is engaged in a campaign of adverts, lawsuits and interviews in an attempt to salvage his image after the screening of Channel 4’s documentary Leaving Neverland, which details years of alleged grooming and child abuse. The documentary, shown in March, features detailed testimonies from Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege the pop star abused them for years while they were children.

>> Mother jailed for female genital mutilation on three-year-old

A 37-year-old mother has been jailed after becoming the first person in the UK to be convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM). The Ugandan woman mutilated her three-year-old daughter at their family home in east London in 2017. Sentencing at the Old Bailey, Mrs Justice Whipple said the act was "a barbaric and sickening crime."