The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, 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. He will succeed the Rt Revd James Jones, who retired as Bishop of Liverpool in August.
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.
As Bishop to Prisons, Bishop James will support the practical work of the Chaplain- General to the Prison Service, Canon Michael Kavanagh and the network of 300 Prison Service Chaplains who share in the front-line care of prisoners. The Bishop to Prisons also develops church links with other agencies concerned with the reform and improvement of prisons. In addition the churches provide the largest single pool of voluntary support and assistance to the criminal justice system.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: ‘James Jones has been an excellent Bishop to Prisons, supporting chaplains on the ground and acting as an extremely effective spokesman for the Church on criminal justice. I am delighted that James Langstaff has agreed to take on this vitally important role. Prison chaplains engage in front-line gospel work, providing pastoral care and bringing the good news of God’s love to thousands of men and women in prison.’
Bishop James Langstaff said: ‘I am excited to have been asked to be Bishop for Prisons. Criminal justice issues have a high profile within our society and with others I will be seeking to offer a Christian perspective within those discussions. I am also a huge admirer of the work of prison chaplains and look forward to working with the Chaplain-General and ecumenical colleagues to support that work. The treatment of prisoners has been a Christian concern for centuries – it is clearly expressed in the biblical prophets – and it is important that we continue to engage clearly with these issues.’
The appointment covers the prison estate in England and Wales and is agreed by the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Wales.
Bishop James Langstaff will take on the role of Bishop to Prisons in addition to his duties as Bishop of Rochester.
Prisons Week, which is endorsed by the Church of England, takes place from 17-23 November. Its organisers are encouraging more volunteers to support schemes run in their local prisons and to support the families of prisoners. www.prisonsweek.org