Allegations of historic abuse continue to rise

10 April 2015

iSTOCK

DOZENS of new allegations of historic child sex abuse in the Church of England have been made since September, a survivors' organisation has told ITV News.

The channel reported on Tuesday that the support group Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS) had received 164 complaints in this time period, of which 136 related to the Church of England.

A spokeswoman for survivors of abuse within churches, Anne Lawrence, warned in February that the Church would face a "deluge" of complaints as the national inquiry into historic child abuse got under way (News, 27 February).

ITV News said that Church of England representatives had said that the Church did not collect figures nationally, but by diocese, and that it could not confirm how many survivors had been in touch with it directly.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who leads on safeguarding, said in a statement: "Our paramount concern is always for the survivors, and, as with all institutions, the current climate means that they are being encouraged to come forward. . . . We can only apologise when we have not got it right, acknowledging that, for survivors, the effects of abuse are lifelong.

"As a Church, we are not there yet, but are committed to improving all our safeguarding work around children and vulnerable adults, along with working with survivors and other organisations to improve our safeguarding practice.

"We are in the middle of implementing new legislation and best practice across all dioceses, to make the Church a safer place for all."

MACSAS had criticised the new legislation, arguing that it "relies too much on discretion exercised by a diocesan bishop". Bishop Butler argues that bishops will have to have due regard to guidance that is due to be presented to the House of Bishops next month.

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