CLERICS and other church workers should be sent to prison if
they fail to act to protect children suffering from sexual abuse,
the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has
CCPAS welcomed the Prime Minister's calls on Tuesday for a new
offence of wilful neglect to be introduced to hold public-sector
officials, such as social workers or teachers, to account if they
act to protect the reputation of an institution or individual
rather than to stop child abuse.
The charity's chief executive, Simon Bass, said on Wednesday
that this should be extended to include church officials and
ministers as well. "Mr Cameron's announcement reflects both how
endemic this form of abuse has become across the UK and how
urgently we need to address it," he said.
"Thinking more broadly, it is essential that there is 'sea
change' in this country in terms of creating clear accountability
structures for reporting child abuse."
CCPAS also supports changing the law to make it a crime not to
report suspected child abuse to the police or authorities.
Mandatory reporting is also backed by the Church of England. The
Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said last month that its
own procedures compelled clergy and others to report all suspected
Mr Cameron's comments came after a report on child-abuse gangs
in Rotherham found repeated failures by the local authorities to
protect children. More than 1400 girls became victims of gangs of
men over 16 years. Similar failings were found in Oxford.
"I'm sending an unequivocal message that professionals who fail
to protect children will be held properly accountable, and council
bosses who preside over such catastrophic failure will not see
rewards for that failure," Mr Cameron said.
A spokeswoman for the Church of England said that the Church
would respond to CCPAS's suggestion at a later date.