No room for church complacency on sex abuse

Body: 

Peter Halliday, aged 61, from Farnborough, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison earlier, after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of boys in Hampshire in the 1980s. A local church had failed to report him to the police in 1990. He went on to abuse others.

Commenting on the issues surrounding this case, Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said: “The Halliday case makes it clear that there is absolutely no room for complacency over sexual abuse. It is also important for churches to admit how wrong they got it in the past – often by taking a ‘pastoral approach’ which failed to recognize the true nature of abuse and its consequences if unchecked.”

He added: “It should also be acknowledged that the Church of England, ecumenical bodies and other churches have made best practice in this area a priority in recent years. A careful review of the Halliday case is now needed, with outside representation, published results and further recommendations if necessary. There must be no 'cover up' accusations.

Concluded Barrow: "It is vital to ensure that churches at all levels implement proper background checks on staff and volunteers, child protection training, rigorous anti-abuse policies and awareness of the law. That is what present church policies are about. Recovering victims and their families need to be heeded and better supported, too."