As the Henriques report in to the Metropolitan Police and Operation Midland is due for publication later today (or at least its recommendations and conclusions are) it highlights the challenges which arise when a report has been prepared. What should be published? When should it be published? Most crucially how should its recommendations be implemented? Lessons can be learned from Scotland and Australia about the importance of ensuring speedy and clear implementation of recommendations.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia in conducting its investigations and case studies, has examined previous reports, internal and external, that had been commissioned by various institutions. The Commission has examined to what extent recommendations from those previous reports have been implemented. The Commission is now also looking at how recommendations it has made in its case study reports have been put in to practice. In December, it will be holding public hearings into the current policies and procedures of a number of named organisations, which have already been the subject of case studies. The Commission wants to see whether and how its earlier recommendations in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse, have been acted upon.
The McClellan Commission was the name given to a review and subsequent report published in connection with allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Scotland. The report was published in August 2015 and an immediate apology given by the Archbishop of Glasgow. 15 months later, Dr McClellan and a number of commissioners have said that they do not consider that their recommendations are being implemented or at least not implemented quick enough. The Church has responded indicating that it is taking the steps recommended. Whatever the truth of the position, and as ever it is likely to be more complicated than the media reports, the lesson for any organisation which has commissioned a report is to make sure that not only are steps implemented but it is made clear how that is happening. Any perceived delay will be considered unacceptable by victims and survivors.
England & Wales
The IICSA, in making requests for documents, has already sought from organisations it has contacted, details of how past safeguarding reviews and recommendations have been implemented and if they have not, why not. It would be prudent for any organisation which currently has involvement with children to ensure that it undertakes an audit of its current safeguarding strategy by reference to any reports which have been published specific to it or comparable organisations.
Written by Sharon Moohan, associate