Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Five church sex offences reported every week

Sun 24 Jul 2016
By Hannah Tooley

The head of a Christian child protection group says a Freedom of Information Request by The Mail on Sunday that has shown around five new church-related sexual offences are reported to the police each week, needs to be viewed in context. 

Justin Humphreys, Head of Safeguarding at the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, was speaking as the newspaper reported that most of the cases related to churches, but that Muslim mosques and Sikh temples also reported incidents.

It says that half of offences reported to the authorities involved children.

Statistics from across UK police forces also showed that the number of sex offences reported to have taken place in religious buildings has risen by 20% of the last year. 

Over the past three years 725 crimes were reported to police, 368 of them were in relation to alleged child abuse.

Justin Humphreys, Head of Safeguarding at the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, told Premier reporting has improved.

He said: "The Savile [reference to Jimmy Savile] effect, as it's often described, has resulted in a wider range of reporting, people getting the confidence to speak when they didn't have it before, which is all good.

"But I think alongside that there's also differences in how the police will report and record such crimes, they are getting better at it."

He continued: "As alarming as these figures are, they are part of much of a wider set of figures."

Mr Humphreys has urged church-goers to do more.

He said: "We should take this as a message to become active, to be proactive where we can, if we haven't been before so let's not be overly alarmed by this, but let's take it as a wake up call."

Speaking to the newspaper, Phil Johnson, spokesperson for the charity Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said: "We’ve seen numbers increase dramatically in the past few years because of the Jimmy Savile effect, but those that go to the police are in the minority." 

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Justin Humphreys here:

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