IICSA and the Methodist Church
*The following sections of information have been taken from a variety of sources such as the Methodist Church in Britain, IICSA and the Church of England websites. Please note that we are not responsible for the content of any external sites and users should be aware of the data protection policies of any external sites.*
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will start its investigation into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings on Monday 16 March 2020. The hearing will last for two weeks and the Methodist Church has been asked to take part along with other religious organisations with a significant presence in England and Wales including non-conformist Christian denominations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, representatives of Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up by the Government after concerns that some organisations were failing and continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse. As a statutory inquiry, IICSA can compel witnesses to give evidence and ask for any material it feels is necessary to investigate where institutions have let children down in the past. After each hearing, the Inquiry’s panel which is chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, will make recommendations to help better protect children in the future.
How does the Methodist Church fit in?
IICSA is holding 15 investigations looking at Child Sexual Abuse. The Methodist Church has been asked to take part in a thematic inquiry that will look at current child protection policies, practices and procedures in religious institutions that have a significant presence in England and Wales. Two preliminary hearings have already been held in relation to this inquiry setting out what the inquiry will focus on. The transcripts can be found here.
The Methodist Church is a core participant in the Inquiry alongside other core participants including other denominations and survivors who have been abused in a church, religious organisation or setting. The hearing will be held between 16–27 March 2020.
**Please note: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has announced that following the suspension of the Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings public hearing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it hopes to resume the hearing via video conference at 10.30 am on 11 May 2020.**
How has the Methodist Church responded?
The Methodist Church wrote to the Chair of the IICSA panel when the Inquiry was convened to offer its full support and stating its willingness to be part of the process. The Connexional Safeguarding Team has worked to respond quickly and efficiently to IICSA’s request for information and statements.
Please find below, links to various documents and websites relevant to the work being undertaken by IICSA.
Will the Inquiry affect my church?
On a day-to-day basis safeguarding within our churches will continue to follow the policy and guidance approved by the Methodist Council so that our churches, services and activities are as safe places as possible. There will quite rightly be scrutiny and coverage of where we got it wrong and lessons we can learn and there are always improvements to be made.
What if I want to speak to someone about the Inquiry?
If you have a question about the IICSA process or you have information to support the investigation contact IICSA directly here. If you have a question about safeguarding in the Methodist Church you should contact the Connexional Safeguarding team via email or on 020 7467 5189.
What if I am concerned someone is at risk?
If you are concerned that someone is at risk of, or is being abused or is a risk to others you should contact your District Safeguarding Officer without delay via email or 07960 877740, or the local police or social care office in your area.
I have been affected by the hearings, who should I contact?
If you have been affected by the hearings the NSPCC has a helpline which you can call to speak to someone in confidence. You can find the details here or call 0808 800 5000.
Where can I find more information?
You can find the Methodist Church's Safeguarding Policy, advice and material and a link to the Past Cases Review here.