Public Sector Focus

27.04.18

Inquiry warns of ‘lack of transparency’ around child sexual abuse failures

There has been a “lack of transparency” around the failure of some institutions to protect children from sexual abuse, it has been revealed.

The Independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has published its interim report, in which it calls for society’s reluctance to discuss the issue to be addressed.

The lack of transparency was highlighted in recent inquiry reports into the child migration programmes and specific institutions in Rochdale, and has been raised by many victims and survivors participating in the Truth Project.

Over 1,000 people have taken part in the inquiry’s Truth Project, which is a confidential way for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences in a supportive and confidential setting.

So far the inquiry has held five public hearings and seven seminars and has published reports setting out the findings from two public hearings and nine research reports.

Using specific contributions of victims and survivors, the report provides clear accounts of child sexual abuse and the profound and lifelong impact it has on them.

The average Truth Project participant was 52 years old, with the oldest aged 95 and around 60% saying that they were first abused between the ages of four and 11 years old.

A quarter were first abused between 12 and 15 years old and over a third said that they had been subjected to multiple episodes of abuse, involving more than one perpetrator or institution.

The report makes a series of recommendations including apologies to surviving former child migrants, with financial redress for them on the basis that “they were all exposed to the risk of sexual abuse.”

It also recommends that agencies within the criminal justice system are compliant with the Victims’ Code and revision of the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme to remove barriers faced by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Staff working in children’s homes should be professionally registered and professionals who pose a risk to children should be barred from working with children across all sectors.

Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, said: “The Interim Report draws all this together and provides a clear account of our work so far.  

“It sets out the key themes emerging from our work and where the Panel and I identify changes which we think will help better protect children, we say so.  

“This report includes 18 new recommendations.”

She acknowledged that there is still much work to do, and said that there will be eight further public hearings in the next 12 months alone.

“I indicated in December 2016 that I expected the Inquiry to have made substantial progress by 2020. I believe we are on target to do that and to make recommendations which should help to ensure that children are better protected from sexual abuse in the future,” she concluded.

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