Board for Social Responsibility

The terms of reference of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility required it to “promote and co-ordinate the thought and action of the Church in matters affecting the life of all in society”.

I held the brief for legal and criminal justice affairs at the Board as well as dealing with a number of issues that did not fall easily within its existing committee structure. In addition, I edited the Board’s quarterly journal Crucible and represented it on the Board of Mission’s Inter-Faith Consultative Council (IFCG), the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics and the Prison Chaplaincy Advisory Group.

While a member of the Board’s staff, I established a Legal and Criminal Justice Reference Panel and set up an Order and Law Groups Database. I liaised closely with the Prison Service Chaplaincy and visited a number of penal establishments across the UK. I was actively involved in the development of a nationwide Police Chaplaincy network and was consulted in the planning of its first two residential conferences held at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, Hants. As well as penal affairs, I held a ‘watching brief’ for those organisations concerned with constitutional reform (e.g. Charter 88) and civil liberties (e.g. Freedom of Information Campaign).

During my time with BSR, I wrote background papers, submissions of evidence and briefing papers (including those for parliamentary debates in the House of Lords) on:

During my last year with the Board, I pressed that it should undertake work relating to Ethics and IT. This bore fruit in 1996 when a working party was established to consider the social ramifications and ethical issues relating to information technology. A popular account of its work has been published under the title Cybernauts Awake!: Ethical and Spiritual Implications of Computers, Information Technology and the Internet (Church House Publishing, 1999).   

Finally I had the particular responsibility for overseeing the computerisation of the Department.