Stop Child Abuse within Religious SectsFebruary 11, 2012
Bolt Burdon Kemp supports and is a founder member of this campaign. The campaign was born out of a letter in The Times on 17th January 2012, signed by Jonathan Wheeler, head of the child abuse team here at Bolt Burdon Kemp.
Jonathan was one of a group of leading lawyers urging for action to be taken in response to the scandal of clerical abuse. Further details can be found here – The Times ranks Jonathan Wheeler among the leading lawyers.
Since then lawyers, campaign groups and survivor organisations have come together to call for a public enquiry. A press conference was held on the 19th April to launch our campaign. We found:
- Between 542 and 1,776 abusing priests have gone un-prosecuted.
- Church safeguarding procedures allow bishops to keep allegations away from the police and social services.
- There have been recently discovered cover-ups in which bishops have protected clergy.
- Bishops can decide for themselves whether to even have a priest risk assessed.
- There are very recent examples of bishops allowing sex offending priests to work with children.
- The churches allow convicted sex offenders to be ordained.
- The institutional dynamics of the churches prevents effective child protection and is putting children at risk in 2012.
Members of church organisations hold influential and highly respected roles within the community and have had unquestioned access to children and the trust of the public. We are aware of over 68 priests (Roman Catholic and Church of England) who have been convicted of serious sexual offences in the recent past and police investigations are ongoing.
The culture of denial and cover up is deeply embedded in these two churches. There is now overwhelming evidence that they are so compromised by their own failure to police themselves effectively that the only way to address the scandal is through a comprehensive public inquiry, and we are urging ministers to order this without delay.
The churches say that they have sufficient safeguards in place. But too many recent cases show that to be wishful thinking. We would urge you to support the campaign and write to your MP to put pressure to bear on the Government to order a public enquiry.