Six alleged Church of England abuse cases in Lancashire referred to police

BBC [London, England]

October 6, 2022

Eleven more cases of alleged historical abuse by Church of England associates in Lancashire need investigating, including six that have been referred to police, a report has revealed.

A Diocese of Blackburn report said the number of incidents involving clergy, officers and volunteers which had required further action was now 120.

The findings were part of a national review ordered by Church leaders.

A Lancashire bishop has apologised to victims for the Church’s past failings.

The new national Past Cases Review came about following criticism of the previous review, published in 2010, which said the Church had found only 13 new cases requiring further action.

The updated version, published on Wednesday, was highly critical of a culture within the Church that was portrayed as still not adequately dealing with abuse.

The reviewers found 383 cases nationally relating to abuse, that the Church said required further attention.

The Diocese of Blackburn commissioned two former senior police detectives to review more than 1,000 files related to allegations of suspected sexual or other abuse of children and vulnerable adults by church personnel in Lancashire, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

‘I apologise sincerely’

The Diocese of Blackburn report said: “The scope was much wider than the previous review and included adult safeguarding concerns as well as child protection concerns.

“We wrote to all parishes and incumbents to request they provide details of any safeguarding cases in their parish.

“There was a 100% return and this resulted in nine new safeguarding cases, six related to children and three related to adults.”

A spokesman for Blackburn Diocese said three cases were referred to the local authority designated officer, and six to the police, while two did not meet the threshold for referral to statutory authorities.

The acting Bishop of Blackburn and Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North, said: “The Diocese of Blackburn strives to be a place that is safe for all, especially for children and vulnerable adults.

“The Church’s failures in the past in this area have been a tragedy.

“I apologise sincerely and wholeheartedly for the pain that has been caused to so many individuals by such failures, pain which in many cases has ruined lives.

“I believe that this review and the report which has come from it will make the Diocese of Blackburn a safer place to be.”

Former Ewood councillor and Blackburn with Darwen Council’s children’s services leader Maureen Bateson said the figures were “very alarming”.