The UK Government has belatedly announced its response to the final Report of IICSA, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, that was published in October 2022 after seven years, 15 separate investigations and evidence from around 7,000 survivors of abuse. The Inquiry found a ‘national epidemic’ of ‘horrific and disturbing’ child sexual abuse in England and Wales.
The final Report included 20 recommendations, the most prominent of which were:
- The introduction of a statutory requirement of mandatory reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse.
- The establishment of a national Redress Scheme for England and Wales, to be funded by Government though with contributions to be sought from the institutions affected.
- The creation of a Child Protection Authority (CPA) in England and Wales, with the power to inspect any institution associated with children.
- Changes to the law of limitation.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said it was a "landmark day" for victims as she confirmed that the Government had ‘accepted the need to act’ on 19 out of IICSA’s 20 recommendations, to include both a national Redress Scheme for England and Wales, and the introduction of mandatory reporting, both of which will now enter a 12 week period of consultation, starting on Monday, to include consultation with survivors and charities. The Government has also accepted that there is a need to reconsider the impact of the present law on limitation and later this year will publish a consultation paper exploring this topic.
The recommendation that was not accepted was to ban the use of ‘pain compliance techniques’ on children.
There has been criticism of the Government’s Response. Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, who lobbied for the Inquiry to be set up in 2015, told Parliament that “accepting the need to act isn’t the same as acting”.
“We have had seven years of victims and survivors laying their stories out there,” she added. “Where is the funding? Where is the actual getting on with the recommendations?”
Children’s charity the NSPCC called the Government’s response “disappointing” and said that it lacked “concrete commitments”.
Most tellingly, IICSA’s Chair, Professor Alexis Jay, has commented that each of the recommendations made in October were “carefully considered”.
She added that, “We are deeply disappointed that the government has not accepted the full package of recommendations made in the final report . . . In some instances, the Government has stated that a number of them will be subject to consultations, despite the extensive research and evidence-taking which the Inquiry carried out over seven years. The package announced by the Government will not provide the protection from sexual abuse that our children deserve.”
Further articles will follow with more detailed analysis.