Sir Cyril Smith

Serious allegations of child abuse involving Sir Cyril Smith, former MP for Rochdale and an active Unitarian, have been published over the last two years and a number of investigations are currently underway.

A statement issued by the General Assembly following his death was removed from the website following the statement by Greater Manchester Police on 27 November 2012. We considered that the tribute was no longer appropriate in light of the allegations.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims at this time and with those who knew Sir Cyril including his family, members of the Rochdale Unitarian Church and the wider community in the town.

Unitarians take very seriously our responsibilities for the protection of children and will co-operate with any investigations that may be made by the Police or other statutory agency relating to any allegations. We have initiated an independent report to ascertain whether there are issues that may  affect the Unitarian churches.

The General Assembly has well established arrangements for safeguarding for its own national children’s and youth activities and for many years has worked closely with the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, one of the leading agencies in this area, to improve practices in member churches. Our Safeguarding Policy has been revised and issued to all congregations with clear guidance on the actions they need to take locally to ensure they comply with Government requirements on safeguarding. Training sessions have been held in several parts of the country for congregational leaders and safeguarding officers as well as children’s and youth leaders. Arrangements for checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service are in place.

10 July 2014