New prison and penal affairs appointments in the Church of England

Published 18 November 2013  |  
Bishop James Langstaff

The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff, has been appointed to the position of Bishop to Her Majesty's Prisons, the senior church advocate for Christian values in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

In this role, Bishop Langstaff will support the practical work of the Chaplain-General to the Prison Service and the network of 300 prison service chaplains. He will also develop church links with other agencies concerned with the reform and improvement of prisons, and will speak on criminal justice issues in the House of Lords.

Bishop Langstaff said he was "excited" by his new appointment.

"I am a huge admirer of the work of prison chaplains and look forward to working with the Chaplain-General and ecumenical colleagues to support that work," he said.

"It is important that we continue to engage clearly with these issues."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said he was "delighted" Bishop Langstaff had agreed to take on the role.

"Prison chaplains engage in front-line gospel work, providing pastoral care and bringing the good news of God's love to thousands of men and women in prison," he said.

Meanwhile former Chief Constable for West Mercia Police, Paul West, has been appointed Advisor to the Bishop of Worcester on Penal Affairs.

In his new role, Mr West will provide independent advice to Bishop John Inge on penal policy and reform, in addition to wider issues regarding the criminal justice system. He will also act as spokesperson for the diocese on these issues.

Paul West

Mr West was Chief Constable of West Mercia between 2003 and 2011, and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Police Service in 2005.

"I am delighted that [Mr West] has accepted this role," says Bishop John.

"His very wide knowledge and experience make him ideally suited for it, and he will have a great deal to offer both the church and the wider community in this capacity."

Mr West said he was "honoured and privileged" to have been offered the position.

"As a senior Diocesan Bishop, John Inge has a seat in the House of Lords, which means that he is in a position to influence national policy and the development of new legislation. I hope to be able to assist him in this respect as well as advising him on penal affairs generally," Mr West continued.

This week is Prisons Week, when Christians are encouraged to support schemes in their local prisons and to pray for prisoners, their families, and all those involved in the judicial system.

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