Church-police group to review crime scene access for priests

Church-police group to review crime scene access for priests

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick have agreed to create a joint group reviewing Catholic priests’ access to crime scenes to administer the last rites.

Cardinal Nichols and Ms Dick took the step after reports that police refused access to Catholic priest seeking to anoint Sir David Amess after the lawmaker was stabbed during a meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15.

Cardinal Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, announced last week that the group would study “the access given, or refused, to Catholic priests to scenes of traumatic violence” and consider “whether any changes are required to the guidance issued to officers faced with such situations”.

Greeting the police commissioner before the Catholic Police Guild’s annual Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral, London, he said: “I welcome police officers from so many different parts of the country to this Mass in which we remember and pray for your deceased colleagues”.

UK lawmakers have formally proposed an “Amess amendment” to a bill going through Parliament seeking to guarantee that Catholic priests can administer the last rites at crime scenes. The amendment to the bill is currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords.