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Bishop to Prisons announced

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones is to be the next Bishop to Her Majesty's Prisons, the senior church advocate for Christian values in the criminal justice system in England and Wales, it was announced today. He will succeed the Rt Revd Peter Selby, the Bishop of Worcester, on his retirement in September.

The church makes a major contribution to public debate on criminal justice and the Bishop to Prisons speaks on criminal justice issues in the House of Lords. There are extensive contacts between the Church and the prison authorities. In March this year, Mr Phil Wheatley, Director-General of the Prison Service, addressed the Church of England's General Synod before a significant debate focusing on the effects of excessive use of imprisonment was opened and closed by the present Bishop to Prisons.

The Bishop to Prisons supports the practical work of the Chaplain General to the Prison Service and the network of three hundred Prison Service Chaplains who share in the front-line care of prisoners. The Bishop to Prisons keeps close contact with the network of prison chaplains and develops church links with other agencies concerned with the reform and improvement of prisons, such as the Prison Reform Trust. In addition the churches provide the largest single pool of voluntary support and assistance to the criminal justice system.

Speaking of the appointment today the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams said:

"The extraordinary quality of the debate led by the Bishop of Worcester at the February meeting of the General Synod was a testament to the rich and diverse involvement of Christians in every aspect of the functioning of the criminal justice system including prison chaplaincy, prisoner visiting, restorative justice, the probation service and the court system. 

"Bishop Peter Selby has spearheaded that work with exemplary skill and dedication, not least in the House of Lords.  I have no doubt that Bishop James Jones will do the same, and am delighted that he has accepted this important and challenging role in the Church."

The Bishop of Liverpool, The Rt Revd James Jones said:

“There is widespread concern about the number of people in prisons which has triggered an important national debate about criminal justice and penal reform.  I look forward to contributing to this debate, to supporting the work of Chaplains and to building on the excellent work of Bishop Peter”.

The appointment is made jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Wales.