Saturday, June 10, 2006

Criminal Justice-views sought

As a member of the Liberal Democrat policy working group looking at issues related to crime in the community, I would be interested to hear the views of others on related issues such as restorative and community justice, the rights of victims and programmes aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour. Our challenge is to keep our liberal instincts intact yet still be shown to take cime seriously. Examples of good practise would be of particular interest.
Thank you.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fighting Poverty at home and abroad

Liberal Democrat Christian Forum commits to challenging poverty in England The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF) have today welcomed the launch of the Church of England based urban regeneration charity as part of a new public campaign to tackle poverty in England, in the aftermath of a new churches’ report on urban life which said that Britain is divided society.‘Challenging Poverty’ is an initiative of the Church Urban Fund (CUF), which was established after the original 1985 ‘Faith in the City’ report. It will raise awareness of the plight of the 11.4 million people living below the poverty line in this country and encourage action in local communities. The extent of inequality and deprivations has been highlighted by the latest churches’ investigation ‘Faithful Cities’, published last month, which involved Methodists, Catholics and other faith communities in a two-year Anglican-led research process.The ‘Challenging Poverty’ campaign will enable CUF to continue its work with the top 10 per cent of the poorest communities in England, after intense discussions about its future. On behalf of LDCF, Rev’d Simon Wilson comments,
“We welcome this new dynamic and broad-based campaign aimed at supporting some of the poorest communities in our increasingly divided nation. We pray that through grassroots schemes, individual lives and whole communities will be transformed for good. The Liberal Democrats have a proud record of striving to bring hope to all those oppressed by poverty and powerlessness.”

The main church-based campaign group on inequality and deprivation across the UK is the ecumenical Church Action on Poverty. Fran Beckett, chief executive officer of the Church Urban Fund, said yesterday: “We live in the fifth richest country in the world and yet 20 percent of people live below the poverty line with 3.4 million of them being children. It is staggering that this level of poverty still exists in the 21st century and it is a scandal so many people believe impoverishment is invisible, when it is happening right on our doorstep.” The campaign will take place in two stages. The launch yesterday started the process of raising public awareness about poverty and the role of the Church Urban Fund. It aims to garner support from the community and attract a network of supporters. The second stage commences in October 2006 with the launch of fundraising initiatives targeted at individuals and businesses.People can support and find out more about the ‘Challenging Poverty’ campaign by going online at

criminal justice foum

Last week saw the launch of an ecumenical criminal justice forum for Norfolk at a well-attended meeting hosted by the Bishop of Norwich. A group of local judges, magistrates, senior police and probation officers, prison and police chaplains, lawyers and voluntary agencies such as Victim Support and denominational representatives have come together to form a network to engage with criminal justice issues from a Christian perspective and seek ways of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the community by tackling their root causes and suggesting imaginative and effective deterrents.

The forum will be chaired by Norfolk Magistrate, Paddy Seligman under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev’d James Langstaff, with Rev Simon Wilson, chaplain to Norfolk Police, acting as convenor. Various working groups will be formed to look at a variety of specific issues with Community Chaplaincy and Restorative Justice having been agreed as early priorities.

Last week’s meeting was an encouraging start to the work of this ecumenical forum. It was heartening to see so many people working in the criminal justice field come together to explore a Christian perspective to their work and committed to engaging with local churches and communities and making a real difference in an area of such topical concern to so many.