BISHOPS are to operate a new “team-ministry” approach to their prisons ministry, to ensure that more prisons and chaplains can be visited, and to allow them to develop a greater depth of understanding of the criminal justice system.
The new style of ministry is being initiated by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, the Anglican Bishop for HM Prisons in England and Wales. This position supports prison chaplains and works across the whole criminal justice system, including probation and community services.
She has pledged to work for a change in sentencing for the most vulnerable. As Bishop for Women’s Prisons, she supported her predecessor as Bishop for Prisons, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, and campaigned for community rehabilitation for women and prison reform.
Now, she will work with the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, who will lead on young offenders; the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, who will support men’s prisons; and a bishop from the Church in Wales, yet to be appointed.
Bishop Treweek said: “I will be involved across the breadth of the prison estate, but I am hoping that this collaborative approach will enable more prisons to be visited, and will provide deeper insight and shared learning. We will, of course, be working in close liaison with bishops in every diocese where prisons are situated and who remain responsible for the licensing and everyday pastoral care of their Anglican prison chaplains.”
The new teamwork began last month with a joint visit to three prisons in the diocese of Lichfield.