Barking and Dagenham churches improve child protection policies

Barking and Dagenham clergymen are to receive extra child protection training this year, it emerged today.

The Diocese of Chelmsford is launching a child protection action pack to ensure policies and checks are implemented to keep young people safe at churches in east London and Essex.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, said: “The abuse of children in our society does terrible damage. No community is immune to it.

“In our churches we must be unflinching in our determination to protect all children from harm. Looking the other way is not an option.”

The revised child protection policies and training programme were devised with input from Essex Police, the diocese said.

This came as the Metropolitan Police continued to investigate child abuse allegations made against Jimmy Savile and other figures as part of Operation Yewtree, but the church said the project had not been launched in response to the high-profile probe.

A diocese spokesman added: “Our policies, procedures and training are easy to follow. We are determined that children will remain safe.”

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The diocese said its current system was robust, and explained that any clergy member subject to child abuse allegations would be immediately suspended pending an investigation and removed from public office if claims were substantiated.