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Offences against the Church?


MrTwoShoes

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MrTwoShoes

Hi all

I was reading about different positions of office in the UK and a Church related one came up that I am now curious about, simply because I had no idea it exists ( that's if it does, wikipedia can be wrong i guess).

I struggle to see how this would work without police involvement.

Church Warden

Powers

In England, churchwardens have specific powers to enable them to keep the peace in churchyards. The following are punishable with a £200 fine:[/size

  • riotous, violent, or indecent behaviour in any cathedral church, parish or district church or chapel of the Church of England or in any churchyard or burial ground (whether during a service or at any other time)
  • molesting, disturbing, vexing, or troubling, or by any other unlawful means disquieting or misusing:
    • any preacher duly authorized to preach therein, or
    • any clergyman in holy orders ministering or celebrating any sacrament, or any divine service, rite, or office, in any cathedral, church, or chapel, or in any churchyard or burial ground.

The churchwarden of the parish or place where the offence was committed may apprehend a person committing such an offence, and take them before a magistrate's court Until 2003, the offence was punishable by two month's imprisonment

Hopefully the link will work http://en.wikipedia....ki/Churchwarden

I know this is completely random but just wondered if anyone had any experience with this, your views and opinions on this would be appreciated.

Edited by David
Fonts/sizes/colours changed to standard for ease of reading
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Never mind that offence, under s36 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 you can be imprisoned for two years for obstructing a clergyman acting in his official business.

But, to answer your question, I've never used it, and doubt I ever will!

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TangoBravoVimto

Wasn't Peter Tatchell arrested for a offence like this a few years back. He was apprehended by a senior officer at the time I think.

Edit- He was fined £18.60 under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 which prevents disruption of a Church Service.

Edited by TangoBravoVimto
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killicksparker

The ancient office of Churchwarden dates back to 12th century times and is the only lay office within the Church of England, from which those elected cannot resign without the permission of the Diocesan Bishop as they are legally appointed, under oath before a barrister and an Archdeacon, for the term of one year. Churchwardens are in effect the officers of the Bishop, responsible for all matters legal to do with the Church and the parish. Their 'badge of office' is a staff known as a 'wand' which is carried at all times when the Bishop is in procession at a service. This tradition dates from the times when it was necessary to protect the Bishop and to ensure his safe passage when visiting a parish. To prevent him being mobbed by an over enthusiastic or hostile crowd, the Churchwardens carried staves to keep the people at a safe distance. The legal powers of Churchwardens are clearly defined in Canon Law and Acts of Parliament and are quite far-reaching although today many have fallen into disuse. Under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act there still exists a power of arrest given to Churchwardens to use against any person who disrupts an act of public worship or for ' riotous behaviour in the church yard.'

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Under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act there still exists a power of arrest given to Churchwardens to use against any person who disrupts an act of public worship or for ' riotous behaviour in the church yard.'

Theres a couple of school kids on my patch who hide round the back of the church and act in an antisocial manner, maybe its time to appoint one of these Churchwardens :)

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brimstone

Wasn't Peter Tatchell arrested for a offence like this a few years back. He was apprehended by a senior officer at the time I think.

Edit- He was fined £18.60 under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 which prevents disruption of a Church Service.

According to http://www.petertatchell.net/religion/easter_sunday.htm, it was a Superintendent and a Special :aok:

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karmapolice

Never mind that offence, under s36 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 you can be imprisoned for two years for obstructing a clergyman acting in his official business.

But, to answer your question, I've never used it, and doubt I ever will!

I love this post. It has to be up there with one of my favourite of all time.

I simply HAVE to find a someone to stick on for it!

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Headset57

used it at a funeral in a cemetery, but they got a caution for drunk in public instead.

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ninetyone

I love this post. It has to be up there with one of my favourite of all time.

I simply HAVE to find a someone to stick on for it!

Even better, it provides immunity from civil arrest for clergyman "going to or returning from" official duties!

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Most churchwardens I've ever met were old enough that they'd quite possibly keel over with the excitement of effecting such an arrest.

They are also I'm believed empowered to remove a preacher from the pulpit if they are preaching heresy. And the staffs they carry come from the days where they would use them to keep the peace in churchyards / during services. 12th century religion was a rather messy affair with plenty of disorder, even your regular services and the associated giving of alms presented "public order" issues - especially when times were bad. I.e. the whole of the 12th century :rolleyes:

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  • 9 years later...
Tom77

I believe a law commission review just over a decade ago (about the time this question was asked) found that the offences listed are prosecuted on average about 60 times per year in England and Wales and were worth keeping on the books.  In the vast majority of those cases, the police are called to make an arrest and the churchwarden's power of arrest is not used; diocese actively discourage its use because if it is misused then the legal situation gets very tricky, with both the warden and the bishop (whose officers the churchwardens are) possibly being sued for wrongful arrest and assault.

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Radman

Holy necropost batman! 

2011 was a decent year to be fair though... 😂

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Father Jack
On 20/02/2020 at 07:43, Father Jack said:

Section 59 Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847 states:

59Penalty on persons committing nuisances in the cemetery.
Every person who shall play at any game or sport, or discharge firearms, save at a military funeral, in the cemetery, or who shall wilfully and unlawfully disturb any persons assembled in the cemetery for the purpose of burying any body therein, or who shall commit any nuisance within the cemetery, shall forfeit F1. . . for every such offence a sum not exceeding [F2[F3£10]][F2level 1 on the standard scale].

 

This provision, however, now only applies to privately run cemeteries. Cemeteries run by local authorities are governed by the Local Authorities' Cemeteries Order 1977. Section 18 of this creates an analogous offence to section 59 of the 1847 Act. Every day's a school day!

Edited by Father Jack
Clarity
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  • 3 weeks later...
Dave SYP

I was a Churchwarden for a few years during my policing days. I didn’t know I was so powerful!? 🙄😂

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