Removal of limitation, changes to Criminal Injuries Compensation and a redress scheme for all abuse victims and survivors were called for by some representatives of victim and survivor core participants at the preliminary hearing of this investigation today.
The hearing provided an update on the progress of this investigation so far, including the responses to its consultation on civil and criminal compensation schemes. Counsel to the Inquiry Peter Skelton QC outlined the seminars held thus far and to be held (in July and November) to further develop the issues raised by the consultations. He also described the ongoing work relating to the provision of evidence in the form of documents and witness statements in advance of the full public hearings which will proceed in 2018.
Representatives of all core participants were able to expand on their written submissions. Reassurance was sought for victims and survivors about the process for giving evidence and to ensure that their voices would be heard. It was confirmed they would, although it might not be possible within the anticipated six week timetable for hearings for every person to give oral evidence about every topic. It is likely that once evidence has been provided key themes will be chosen and explored in the relevant case studies.
As noted above representatives of a number of victims and survivors including SOIA (Survivors of Institutional Abuse) called for the Inquiry Panel to make recommendations now. They called for the recommendation for removal of limitation in all abuse claims. They cited comments made by other core participants in their submissions about the relevance of limitation and suggested if it were removed then it would not be something which in particular a public funded organisation felt compelled to consider. Changes to Criminal Injuries Compensation proposed included removal of the current interpretation of consent and the removal of the under the same roof rule. Thirdly a call was made for the recommendation now of a redress scheme similar to that recommended in Northern Ireland but that it should apply to all victims and survivors not just those linked to organisations which are themselves involved in the IICSA.
The next few months will involve core participants in providing details of documents held and the Inquiry identifying which documents it wants to see; the preparation of witness statements; and then the identification of key themes.
No firm dates were set for any further hearings.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and abuse claims expert at BLM