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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Church abuse case review outlined
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan
Dr Williams has acknowledged earlier mistakes by the Church
Thousands of files will be examined in an independent review checking for past cases of sex abuse involving clergy, the Church of England has announced.

It follows consultation with agencies including the NSPCC on how best to investigate historic abuse cases.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged that mistakes have been made in responding to abuse claims.

A spokesman said the Church was undertaking the review for "the care, protection and nurture of children".

Because records are not held centrally, each diocesan bishop will appoint an independent reviewer to review of files on clergy and other employees.

A "thorough and consistent" approach was being taken, the spokesman added.

Dr Rowan Williams previously told the BBC the church had "let people down in various ways over a long period" but now had policies to avoid its earlier "very inadequate" responses.

The review will include priests who have retired to their diocese as well as other church employees.

Abuse cases

The review of files comes after recent court cases into sexual abuse by a priest and a choirmaster with some incidents taking place after senior bishops and other clergy had been warned of the risk.

The Reverend David Smith, 52, of Clevedon, Somerset, was jailed for five and a half years in May for grooming and then molesting six vulnerable youngsters over a period of almost 30 years.

It emerged that concerns had been raised with the Church of England about the vicar, firstly in 1983 and then again in 2001.

And former choirmaster Peter Halliday, 61, from Farnborough, Hants, was jailed for two and a half years for sexually abusing boys in the late 1980s, amid claims the Church had covered up his crimes.

The Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), an independent charity providing advice and support in child protection, said it welcomed the Church of England's announcement.

Executive director David Pearson said: "We welcome the developments and that the plans are going ahead to ensure an independent review is carried out in each diocese."

SEE ALSO
Archbishop's 'sorrow' over abuse
28 Apr 07 |  Hampshire

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