Leading abuse law experts today called on the Government to ‘act quickly’ on the recommendations made within the latest report published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
The call to action comes amidst growing concern that the political uncertainty caused by Liz Truss’ resignation as Prime Minister will overshadow the findings of the Inquiry, which have shone a light on systemic failings in the way that child sexual abuse allegations have been dealt with by a number of public bodies over several decades.
Commenting on the findings Liam Goggin, Head of Abuse Law at Simpson Millar, which represented several people at the inquiry, added that he welcomed many of the recommendations – including the removal of the three-year limitation for compensation claims.
On this point, he said: “It is positive that the Inquiry has identified that child sexual abuse claims are unique, and proposals to remove limitation in these cases is very sensible, and long overdue. It is simply unacceptable, and in many cases totally unrealistic, that abuse survivors are expected to bring a case within three years of turning 18 if they were abused as a child.
“Often justifying the reasons for the delay in bringing the claim can also be extremely traumatising, and so this recommendation is one we really welcome on behalf of our clients.”
Further commenting on the Inquiry and the report, Liam added: “The report published today marks an important milestone in the lives of those people that we represented throughout the inquiry.
“It is now utterly undeniable that there have been systemic failings in the way that child sexual abuse allegations were dealt with by a number of public bodies, over a sustained period of time.
“Complaints were ignored, investigations were lackluster, and decision making was slow. Our clients were let down by the very people they should have been able to turn to for help.
“We welcome many of the Inquiry’s recommendations, and the onus is now very much on the Government to act upon them. Only then will justice truly be done for our clients, and only then will we have the reassurances needed that no child should have to suffer as so many have in the past.”
The report published today included various recommendations, including:
- Mandatory reporting enshrined in legislation, such that certain individuals, known as ‘mandatory reporters’, are under a statutory duty to report child sexual abuse.
- The Establishment of independent Child Protection Authorities (CPA) for England and for Wales, with the CPA overseeing child protection measures.
- The removal of the three-year limitation for PI claims brought by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse with the burden to fall on the defendants to prove that a fair trial is not possible.
- Introduction of a national guarantee that child victims will be offered specialist and accredited therapeutic support, which is fully funded, across England and Wales, and able to be provided in a timely manner.
- Information Commissioner’s Office to introduce a code of practice on retention of and access to records known to relate to child sexual abuse. These should be kept for 75 years with appropriate review periods
- Amendments to CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) scheme for child sexual abuse applications so applicants have seven years to apply from the date of reporting or turning 18 where the abuse was reported while the victim was a child with exemptions available.
- The establishment of a single redress scheme in England and Wales. To be funded by central and local government, with voluntary contributions from non-state institutions.
Liam added: “These recommendations must now be implemented and quickly. This requires government funding and for the government to act quickly which in the current political climate is a huge concern, and it may be that survivors of abuse suffer again as a result.
“This is further emphasised by the fact that six of the twenty recommendations in this report were made before in various IICSA reports published since 2018, but the implementation of these recommendations by the organisations they have been directed to has been slow, insufficient, or non-existent over the course of four years. This must change, and immediately. There is no room for complacency.”