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Diocesan Synod motion presented to General Synod

Published: 10th July 2023

Kashmir Garton presenting at general synodOn Saturday afternoon, the Worcester Diocesan Synod Motion on the contribution of faith to the rehabilitation of offenders was presented to General Synod in York.

Introduced by Kashmir Garton, Lay Chair of Redditch & Bromsgrove, one of our General Synod Reps and Faith Lead for the Probation service, this motion noted with pleasure that the Probation Service recognised faith and belief in having a positive impact on whether someone reoffends, commended the value of churches working in partnership with probation and called on dioceses to nominate a contact person to oversee this work locally.

During the debate, a number of people spoke in support of the motion, including Archbishop Justin and the Bishops of Gloucester and Lichfield and the Chaplain General for Prisons.

Kashmir told members of the Synod that the Probation Service is already working with churches, bishops and Diocesan Safeguarding Panels to help support people leaving prison.Wide shot of the general synod chamber with Kashmir presenting the diocesan synod motion

“Each week our churches open their doors and seek to share the message of hope and love of Christ to all who enter,” she told the General Synod. Yet, many of the people currently leaving prison each week are unable to find a faith community after practising their faith in prison.  Synod, this is a loss for people leaving prison who wish to maintain their faith, it is a loss for the Church that can provide a safe welcome with appropriate safeguards from Probation, and it is a loss for our communities that can support their rehabilitation journey.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, who is Bishop for Prisons, said the debate was a ‘challenge’ to the Church of England to be more connected with the Probation Service. She said:

“We need a holistic approach in everything and that includes partnership with our probation and our prison chaplains and when people leave prison our chaplains play a key role in trying to pass on the baton. This motion is challenging us to be more creative and more connected with the Probation Service - relationship is at the heart of this motion in every way. This motion is about joining in with God’s work of reconciliation and transformation.”

Currently following risk assessments, people can be connected to community chaplaincy projects or faith communities such as those in the Welcome Directory, connecting prisoners with faith communities that have prepared to welcome them.

A background paper for the General Synod showed that between 30-45% of adults released from prison in any given year will be reconvicted within a year of release and for those on short sentences (less than 12 months) this rises to 55-60%.

In 2019 the Ministry of Justice estimated the annual total estimated economic and social cost of reoffending as £18.1bn.

The Synod gave its backing to the following motion put by Worcester Diocesan Synod on the contribution of faith to the rehabilitation of offenders:

That this Synod, recognising that faith and belief can have a positive impact on an offender's behaviour:

(a) note with pleasure the decision made by the Probation Service to recognise faith and belief as a protective factor in reducing reoffending, and its desire to work in partnership with churches, prison and community chaplains and faith communities to support rehabilitation;

 (b) commend the value of partnership working with the Probation Service as an important additional support in churches' welcome of people leaving prison, including training of clergy and authorised lay ministers;

(c) call on dioceses to nominate a contact person or office to link the Probation Service locally to clergy, parishes and chaplaincies.’

(d) call on dioceses to enable a swift welcome of offenders after release into an appropriate church community, subject to agreed and clear safeguarding boundaries; and to make this part of the brief for their Diocesan Safeguarding Team.

 

Find out how your church can be a welcoming place for those leaving prison by signing up to be part of the Welcome Directory

Picture of Kashmir presenting at General Synod by Sam Atkins/Church of England

Page last updated: Tuesday 11th July 2023 11:06 AM

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