The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, has created a collaborative team to support her in her role as Anglican Bishop for HM Prisons in England and Wales, which she took over from her predecessor, The Rt Revd James Langstaff, towards the end of 2020.
In her role, Bishop Rachel is tasked with supporting the network of Anglican Prison Chaplains who share in the front-line care of prisoners, as well as developing relationships and being involved with people and issues across the breadth of the Criminal Justice System. This includes probation and community services, as well as many different charities and organisations. In all of this, Bishop Rachel seeks to use her role as a Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords, not least working for a change to systems and sentencing for the most vulnerable people in our communities, whilst not losing sight of appropriate justice for victims of crime.
Over the last few years Bishop Rachel supported Bishop James in her role as Bishop for Women’s Prisons and has undertaken a huge amount in campaigning for prison reform and community rehabilitation for women in the criminal justice system, or at risk of offending. She now wants to develop that collaborative way of working.
The Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, will support Bishop Rachel in work with young offenders, which will be a natural extension to Bishop Libby’s work as vice-chair of The Children’s Society. The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, will support with the male estate and bring his experience of being in a diocese with a number of prisons. The team will also include one of the Bishops in the Church in Wales, and until that person has been appointed by the Welsh bench of bishops, the Rt Revd Andy John, Bishop of Bangor, will continue to be the point of contact. The Team will work closely with the Revd Helen Dearnley, HMPPS Anglican Chaplaincy Advisor.
Bishop Rachel said, “I will be involved across the breadth of the prison estate, but I am hoping that this collaborative approach will enable more prisons to be visited and will provide deeper insight and shared learning. We will of course be working in close liaison with bishops in every diocese where prisons are situated and who remain responsible for the licensing and everyday pastoral care of their Anglican Prison Chaplains.”
The new episcopal prison team marked the beginning of their work together on Thursday 29 July with a visit to a number of prisons in the Diocese of Lichfield.
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