Reinforcement for the Safeguard in Minister Recruitment is needed

Christian Research for Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has conducted a survey about the safeguards of churches in England when appointing Youth or Children ministers.

Churches together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), the ecumenical body which draws together churches from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed, Free Church and African- Caribbean traditions has welcomed the survey. A total of 750 churches from all the denominations have participated in it.

The survey suggests current safeguards were dangerously low. Barely a third of churches took up written references of people applying for jobs and almost one in 10 took up volunteers without any selection process at all.

Meanwhile, CTBI believes all CTBI member Churches have taken child protection policies seriously. Concerning the survey results, CTBI is aware that it highlights the amount of work still to be done to ensure that all local congregations are meeting the higher standards, a statement said.

Training in child protection was also deficient with one in six providing no instruction whatsoever.

The Revd Pearl A. Luxon, Methodist Church Child Protection Officer and Director of Churches' Agency for Safeguarding pointed out that the CCPAS press release may divert attention from the widely accepted fact that the vast majority of abuse occurs in the home or family context.

She also reminded that the child protection policies are relevant to every congregation because every church needs to be child-friendly.

Both the Church of England and Catholic Church in Britain have been affected by the convictions of priests for abuse against children in their parishes. The murder of two girls Holly and Jessica by Ian Huntley in Soham in summer 2002 has been a very fearful news to the public.

Director David Pearson of CCPAS said failings in the quality of information kept about Ian Huntley had ultimately led to the murders in Soham. He said immediate action was needed to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

A spokesman for the Church of England said, "We welcome the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service research and hope it will encourage churches to do what the Church of England's House of Bishops Child Protection Policy has already asked them to."

"Ninety percent of Anglican Churches use Criminal Records checks for new children's workers, and we would like to see this figure reach 100%," he added.

Churches' Agency for Safeguarding (CAS) is an ecumenical non-profit making body. It is an Umbrella Body registered with the Criminal Records Bureau. It handles over 9,000 disclosures per year on behalf of 11 Christian denominations and associated bodies. All organizations that use CAS are required to have high standards in the recruitment and checking of all staff and volunteers which are consistent with Criminal Records Bureau codes of practice.