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UK News

Investigation into safeguarding at non-conformist churches and religious settings postponed

by Cara Bentley

An investigation into the safeguarding procedures of the Methodist Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain and United Reformed Church - and other religious settings - has been postponed because of coronavirus. 

The investigation, which started on Monday, aimed to look into the current safeguarding practices of non-conformist churches and other religious groups, such as within Islam and Hinduism, in England and Wales. 

Public hearings and evidence will be used to review vetting and training procedures that exist and see if anything needs improving. 

However, the hearings have now been suspended for the rest of the month. 

The Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse had previously looked into the Church of England and the Catholic Church. 

Justin Humphreys, CEO of Christian safeguarding charity Thirty:One Eight told Premier's News Hour that non-denominational churches have not had the same level of scrutiny - but should. 

"I think the established church, the Church of England in this country, has come in for the lion's share of attention alongside perhaps the Roman Catholic Church and I think that is because of their long-standing history but also because they are probably the easiest to identify and to get a hold of because they are well-structured - they are hierarchical, they are present in almost every community across the UK. 

"But I think the consequence has been that the non-conformist church, the Free Church traditions, have not come under the same level of scrutiny. I have said for a number of years, prior to the establishment of this particular inquiry, that that is not a position that should be sustained and it's not one that we should expect to continue. It's not acceptable to think that just because we are not part of the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church that we can work to a lesser standard."

A report will be published once the investigation is over.

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