UK

Methodist Church Apologises After Almost 2,000 Abuse Cases Revealed In Shocking Report

28/05/2015 10:06 BST | Updated 28/05/2015 10:59 BST

The Methodist Church in Britain has apologised for failing to protect children and adults following nearly 2,000 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution dating back to the 1950s.

Publishing a 100-page report today, the church said it wanted to be "open" about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the church's governing body, the Methodist Conference, said: "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[...] and members of the Methodist Church.

methodist church uk

A Methodist church in Oxford

"That abuse has been inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church."

He described as "deeply regrettable" that the church had "not always listened properly to those abused" nor had it always cared for them.

An independent review identified 1,885 past cases, including sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse as well as cases of neglect.

In approximately one quarter of the cases (26%), church ministers or employees were identified as the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators. In 61 cases, there was contact with the police and there are six ongoing police investigations as a result.

Atkins added: "In respect of these things we have, as a Christian church, clearly failed to live in ways that glorify God and honour Christ.

"I am certain that the Methodist Conference will want to resolve to do all in its power to improve its systems to protect children, young people and adults from abuse within the life of the church and on church premises, and to review them diligently on a regular basis."

SEE ALSO:

The independent review, which has taken three years and was led by former Barnardo's deputy chief executive Jane Stacey, considered all safeguarding cases for which there were written records and those recalled from memory by ministers and members of the church going back to 1950.

These included cases that occurred within a church context as well as those which were reported to the church as a matter of pastoral concern, but which occurred away from the church.

In each identified case, the church's response was reviewed on whether it had been safe, pastorally appropriate and compliant with current legislation and policy. Where possible and appropriate cases have been referred to the police or other remedial action has been taken.

The church said the aim of conducting the review and writing the report was "to learn the lessons of the past so that safeguarding work within the Methodist Church is of the highest possible standard and the church is safe for all".