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UK News

Christian safeguarding charity praises inquiry's decision to look into other denominations

by Cara Bentley

The children and vulnerable adults safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight, who provide safeguarding training and support to churches, have praised the decision announced on Thursday by the child abuse inquiry to look at Methodist churches, Baptists, Pentecostals, house churches and other non-denominations.

The investigation will look into the child protection practices at Sunday schools, youth groups and camps.

So far, the inquiry into religious settings and organisations has only looked into the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. 

Thirty:one eight are urging non-conformist churches to be compliant with the inquiry and work hard to learn about their past failures. 

Justin Humphreys, CEO of Thirtyone:eight told Premier: "I think it is hugely significant in that it will give the wider church - and in fact organisations from other faiths, but primarily the wider church - a chance to demonstrate where it is doing things well, but also give others an opportunity to explore where things aren't quite going so well.

"I think for some, it will be a real challenge and may in fact be rather painful. For others, it will be an opportunity to say 'look, actually there are sections of the church that are doing this really well.'"

The findings of the investigations within the inquiry so far will be released at a preliminary hearing on 23rd July and public hearings will start next year.

Mr Humphreys explained what the scrutiny will look like: "What the investigation into the religious organisations and settings is going to be doing is taking a thematic view of a range of different safeguarding arrangements across the wider church.

"So, it will be looking at things like awareness levels, policy and procedure, say for recruitment, working together with statutory agencies, internal scrutiny and external oversight.

"I think in relation to this particular investigation, what church denominations and other organisations can expect once the investigation gets underway is for them to be requested to provide evidence for the arrangements that they have. Also, potentially to come and give verbal evidence to the inquiry, to speak to those things that they either have or haven't done.

"So, it'll be interesting to see exactly how this pans out. We don't know what that will look like yet, but what we do know is that it's all set to take place during the course of 2020."

The new, wider investigation will also include Jehovah's witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews and Hindus.

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