News roundup: November 2019

09 December 2019, Thirtyone:eight

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

Thirtyone:eight in the news:

>> How can churches help victims of domestic abuse?

Karen Eakins, head of consultancy and engagement at Thirtyone:eight, spoke to the Church Times regarding how churches need to respond to domestic abuse. Karen’s comments formed part of a feature article by the Church Times on the issue.

>> New safeguarding guidance for churches working with refugees and asylum seekers

Guidance has been produced jointly by Thirtyone:eight and Welcome Churches for churches working with refugees and asylum seekers. It provides advice on how churches in the United Kingdom can be places of welcome for refugees and asylum seekers in their community.

>> Child abuse linked to faith and belief on the rise

The number of children in England abused due to belief in witchcraft has risen by more than 30 per cent in the last three years, according to new data. Justin Humphreys, CEO at Thirtyone:eight, spoke to Premier Christian Radio regarding the story. His radio interview can be heard at the bottom of the article.

Our pick of the top headlines:

>> Role of clergy considered under sexual offence laws

The proposal to include church leaders as being in a position of trust under sexual offence laws is being discussed as part of a review of criminal legislation. A report recommended the Government amend part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so that clergy are included in the definition of a position of trust. Thirtyone:eight has been calling on the government to change the law.

>> I failed abuse victim, Cardinal Nichols admits

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has said that he failed to support a survivor of abuse when he was RC Archbishop of Birmingham. There were few areas in his life in which there was “total integrity”, he admitted. The Cardinal said that the culture of safeguarding in British churches was “radically different” from 12 years ago, but also accepted: “There’s much, much more we have to achieve.”

>> Historical institutional abuse: Institutions told of compensation 'obligation'

The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has contacted six institutions, including some religious orders, about compensation for victims of historical institutional child abuse. In a letter, David Sterling said they all had an obligation to contribute to payments. Earlier in November, a delayed law was passed to allow state compensation. The payment of compensation to victims and survivors of child abuse was recommended by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry nearly three years ago

>> Devamanikkam review challenged by survivor

A former director of adults and children’s services, Jane Humphreys, has been commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) to carry out a “lessons-learnt” review of the handling of allegations relating to the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam. Revd Matthew Ineson, a survivor, said: “I regard the Church’s lessons-learned review process as worse than useless. . . Lessons cannot be learned if no one is held to account.

>> 30 years on, has the Children Act changed family life for the better?

Politicians, social workers, parents and legal experts discussed whether the Children’s Act of 1989 has been successful at putting children’s interests first. One social worker said: “The idea of putting children at the heart of legislation was good in theory, but I don’t think it has been executed particularly well. My view is that children aren’t heard and they are not always at the centre of things.

>> Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties

The Duke of York said he is stepping back from royal duties because the Jeffrey Epstein scandal has become a "major disruption" to the Royal Family. Prince Andrew, 59, said he had asked the Queen for permission to withdraw for the "foreseeable future". He said he deeply sympathised with sex offender Epstein's victims and everyone who "wants some form of closure".

>> Police chief convicted for having child sexual abuse image on phone

A Metropolitan police chief who was sent an unsolicited video of child sexual abuse via WhatsApp has been convicted of possessing indecent images on her phone. Supt Robyn Williams, 54, was found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey and potentially faces being sacked after 36 years of distinguished service. Williams was at a gym class in February 2018 when she was sent the video via WhatsApp on her phone by her sister, who was outraged by its content and wanted the person behind it caught.

>> Will child abuse allegations put Britain’s music schools at risk?

The abuse suffered by performers in the musical world has been in the media in recent months, thanks to the #MeToo campaign. Less well-known is the abuse suffered by musically gifted children at the hands of their specialist teachers. Earlier this year the American media reported on the case of Lara St John, a violinist who was one of dozens abused by sexually predatory specialist teachers at a music institute in America.