Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
More than 5,000 potential modern slaves were referred for help last year but the CPS only prosecuted 239 suspects, a small fraction of potential cases flagged to authorities. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it was committed to improving its response to forced labour and sexual and criminal exploitation after MPs warned that a national strategy had ‘yet to result in coherent action’. Alison Saunders, the outgoing director of public prosecutions, said, ‘Modern slavery has a devastating, lasting impact on its victims. There is no place in our society for those who enslave others, whether for work, sexual or criminal exploitation or domestic servitude. Referrals to the CPS from police and agencies rose by a third and prosecutors said the increase was part of a ‘dedicated drive to clamp down on slavery-related crime’.
Across the country youth workers and church members will be running holiday clubs this summer. Pray for energy and innovation for all the leaders; for peace to permeate each activity, regardless of any unforeseen pressures; for safety for all and for incredible relationship-building across the age ranges; for all the different holiday club material to be used wisely; and for God to anoint with power those who are gifted in storytelling, leading music, dance, arts, crafts, games and creative teaching. May thousands of young people recognise God's love for them this summer and respond to His call on their lives. Pray for the Church to impact not just the children but whole communities, as families are inspired through outdoor Christian celebrations, church fetes, and parties. Pray also for all the many week-long Christian mission retreats, Bible weeks and camping events. May millions of lives be challenged and changed this summer.
Hampshire police were called at 5:06 am on Wednesday 1 August after a report of a 21-year-old woman being sexually assaulted at the Focus Festival (held at the Somerley Estate, near Ringwood). The event, hosted by Holy Trinity Brompton church, sees thousands of Christians gather for a week of teaching, worship and fellowship. Delegates at the festival reported seeing police on site as campers were packing up to leave the event, which had finished the previous day. The victim is receiving support from specialist officers, and a 54-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape. He remains in custody. The Focus festival has been running since 1992.
The Supreme Court ruled on 30 July that hospitals can now end life-sustaining care for patients without the need to seek court approval, if families and doctors are in agreement. The ruling was said to ‘clarify the law’, and avoids the need in many cases for families to come to court. Judicial approval will now not be required to withdraw life-prolonging treatments from patients with a prolonged disorder of consciousness such as being in a minimally-conscious or persistent vegetative state - if families and medical staff agree. Previously, some NHS Trusts were unsure as to whether they might find themselves liable to legal action if they went ahead with withdrawal of treatment before seeking permission. The court, led by Lady Black, ruled that to take such action was not a breach of a patient’s human rights. Many Christians believe this decision does not reflect the ‘views of the pews’. The Christian Medical Fellowship said it is never humane to end someone else's life. See
A damning report from MPs said the aid sector is guilty of complacency verging on complicity over an ‘endemic’ sex abuse scandal’, and charities were more concerned to protect their reputation than victims. Safeguarding policies were never effectively implemented. Leaders were ‘self-deluded’, thinking they had addressed problems before they became public. MPs insisted more resources were needed to tackle the issue, and victims must be at the heart of solutions. Charities must ensure the beneficiaries of humanitarian aid have knowledge and confidence in their rights. An earlier report, by UNHCR and Save the Children, found it was mainly men in refugee camps who demanded sex in exchange for biscuits, soap, medicines, etc. Oxfam said the report was painful reading for the whole aid sector. ‘We have made mistakes handling historical sexual harassment complaints from staff in the UK - there is a great deal more to do’. An international summit in October will expect the sector to have demonstrated progress by then.
300+ Glasgow asylum-seekers are threatened with eviction by Serco, a public service provider. Rev Dr Richard Frazer said it was unacceptable that people fleeing war are treated this way. ‘Authorities have clear moral responsibilities to provide housing for people in need. Serco intends to evict people whose UK asylum has been rejected, and has ordered six families to move out within a week, before the locks on their doors are changed. Dr Frazer said that although individuals and families have had their right to remain turned down, past evidence shows that half will win their appeal against that decision. The Church of Scotland is backing a new campaign to challenge the UK Government’s approach to illegal immigration, which is leading to destitution, discrimination and distrust. See
Welfare payments are turning the clock back to the 1950s and allowing abusers to control family finances, MPs say. Under Universal Credit (UC), payments are made to one person per household, often leaving abuse victims and their children dependent, a report by the Work and Pensions Committee said. One abuse survivor feared the new system could leave her and her children with ‘nothing for weeks’. UC aims to simplify the benefits and tax credits system with a single monthly payment. Claimants provide details of one bank account for payments. Although they can request split payments, Job Centres currently only offer them in ‘very exceptional circumstances’. Christian Labour MP Frank Field said men and women pay taxes as individuals, and should each have an independent income. People living with abuse can see their entire monthly income, including money meant for their children, go into their abusive partner's bank account. The system makes it harder for victims to leave an abusive relationship.
The Co-operative Academy of Leeds has been working with human rights charity Karma Nirvana to end forced marriages and honour-based abuse. In school education lessons, students were given spoons which they could use if they feared they were being taken abroad to be married in the summer holidays. If they concealed them in their underwear, the spoons would trigger airport metal detectors, and the child would be taken to one side to be searched away from their parent or guardian. This would allow the youngster to tell airport staff that they were being forced into a marriage. Karma Nirvana’s helpline has taken nearly 70,000 calls in ten years. It has worked with the academy for five years, teaching pupils and staff how to be aware of this problem and how to get help if they are affected. See https://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/what-we-do/raising-awareness-education/
Allegations of ‘serious corruption and malpractice’ within the Metropolitan Police are being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Gross misconduct notices were served on three officers, one of whom is also under criminal investigation, and ‘a number’ of others are being assessed. Investigations are at an early stage and may involve as many as 14 officers, including senior officers who interfered with or curtailed investigations and failed to investigate allegations of wrongdoing. There is also alleged systemic removal of the restrictions of officers under investigation and racial discrimination. According to the Sunday Times, three whistleblowers from the Met told the IOPC that members of the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) were shielding officers from a range of allegations. Files have been shredded in the past when allegations of corruption were made, making it hard to prove there was sleaze, bribery or fraud.
Ship of Fools have Mystery Worshippers who visit different churches and denominations with a variety of worship styles and congregation size. They report on what the experience was like and whether they would consider going back. One Mystery Worshipper reported feeling like 'the invisible man', and ‘extremely lonely’. Many reviews noted the only welcome is a quick greeting from someone distributing service sheets. One actually felt bullied by pushy congregation members ‘trying to get me to sign things and buy things’. Mystery Worshippers give us an insight into what it feels like to attend church if you have never been before. People 'like us' are often more easily greeted and assimilated, but people who don’t quite fit can end up invisible and lonely. Alarmingly, one church ‘welcomer’ who stood by the door throughout the service was asked who might feel the most left out. She smiled and replied, 'I think that would be me.'