Methodist investigation uncovers nearly 2,000 cases of abuse

An investigation by the Methodist Church in Britain has revealed nearly 2,000 cases of abuse since 1950.

The Methodist Church in the UK is to apologise today for nearly 2,000 cases of abuse uncovered after a three-year investigation.

The cases include 914 allegations of sexual abuse.

The independent inquiry investigated the Church's response to incidents dating back to 1950. It commissioned the review because it said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.

It identified 1,885 cases, including alleged sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse, as well as cases of neglect.

In 26 per cent of cases, ministers or lay employees were involved. The figures rises to 33 per cent when Church members, such as worship leaders and local preachers, are also included.

One cases concerned the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook. Another involved a Methodist youth officer who had indecent images of children on his computer.

General secretary, Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, said the abuse would "remain a deep source of grief and shame to the Church".

He added: "On behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain I want to express an unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers."

Report chairman Jane Stacey, former deputy chief executive of the children's charity Barnardo's, called for a culture change in the Church.

She said there were "many lessons to be learnt". "The most challenging are those that require a significant culture change throughout the Church, and particularly for ministers and Church leaders," she added.

"The Church will need further courage to implement the review's recommendations, which are far-reaching and call for major changes in both practice and culture."

Bishop Paul Butler, Church of England's lead bishop on safeguarding said: "We welcome the Methodist Church's statement outlining their future plans on safeguarding and we look forward to continuing to liaise with them closely as both churches roll out this vital work. We will want to see if there are further lessons for us to learn from the Methodist Church review."