The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service has today called for the Church of England to commission an independent review into its handling of child abuse cases, following two cases where abusive church employees went unpunished for several years.
The charity, which advises churches on child protection, said a review should focus on the circumstances surrounding the case of Reverend David Smith who was jailed for five-and-a-half years on Thursday for abusing six boys over three decades while working for the church.
In a hard-hitting statement, CCPAS questioned why action was not taken when abuse allegations surfaced in 1983 and 2001. It asked why details of the first allegations were not passed on to Bath and Wells diocese when it appointed Smith vicar of St John the Evangelist church in Clevedon, North Somerset.
CCPAS also raised concerns over reports that Smith agreed not to be alone with children following the second set of allegations in 2001, adding: “Why did the church, given the knowledge of the manipulative nature of sex offending behaviour, so readily and so naively believe a promise made by a suspected abuser not to be alone with children?”
The charity also called on the Church of England to reopen historic cases of abuse, following the conviction of Peter Halliday last month for abusing three boys while choirmaster of St Peter’s church, Farnborough, Hampshire, between 1985 and 1990. Halliday had admitted abusing one of the boys to church authorities in 1990, but he was merely sacked from his role, and later went on to work alongside children.