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Prison discipleship programme

02 November 2006

THERE WAS a short emergency debate in the form of a Question, requested bAlison Ruoff (London), and asked by the Archdeacon of Bristol, the Ven. AlaHawker, after press reports last week about the ending of the Inner Changprogramme in Dartmoor Prison.

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, Bishop to Prisons, said that threports had suggested wrongly that it was becoming more difficult or eveimpossible to gain approval for specifically Christian programmes in prisonThe Inner Change programme had failed on five different counts to obtaiapproval under the Prison Services "Effective Intervention" criteria. ThChaplain General had not been involved in the decision, as the press reporthad said, and the idea that chaplains had to sign a "multifaith covenant" wasimply not true.

Pressure in the prison system, with record numbers incarcerated, and thvariety of religious faiths represented, presented a hugely challenginenvironment for the service in general and the chaplaincy in particular, saithe Bishop. Despite those pressures, the Chaplain General had enabled thproduction of policies which maintained the proper balance between that whicwas specifically Christian and proper provision for other faith communities.

Archdeacon Hawker pointed out that the chaplaincy service functioned withithe Prison Service. Concentration must be on encouraging opportunities whicthe new context of openness to religious intervention made possible. Mrs Ruofand Dr Selby rejoiced at the range of regular worship, Bible study and prayegroups and rehabilitation programmes going on in prisons.

Dr Selby confirmed, in answer to a question from the Archbishop of Yorkthat an official letter of complaint was going to the newspaper concerned for story that was in effect "false witness".

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