Methodist Church apologises for historic abuse

Hinde Street Methodist Church in central London Credit: PA

The Methodist Church in Britain has apologised for failing to protect childrenand 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 Methodist Church in Britain said itwanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.

The report highlighted 225 safeguarding concerns in Nottingham and Derby between 2000 and 2014.

A number of safeguarding concerns over the same period were also highlighted in the following districts:

  • Birmingham: 47

  • Chester & Stoke-on-Trent: 51

  • Lincoln & Grimsby: 47

  • Northampton: 102

  • Wolverhampton & Shrewsbury: 60

However the report noted that a high number does not necessarily indicate more abuse or concerns occurring. In at least one district with high figures it was because of diligent and thorough recording keeping and reporting.

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference said:

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

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 thosewhich 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 theMethodist Church is of the highest possible standard and the church is safe for all".

The review identified 1,885 past cases, which included sexual, physical,emotional and domestic abuse as well as cases of neglect. In approximately one quarter of these cases (26%), church ministers or lay employees were identified as the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators. In 61 of these cases there was contact with the police and there are six ongoing police investigations as a result.