IICSA yesterday commenced its four week virtual public hearing in the Children in the Care of Lambeth Council investigation.
The first hearings are scheduled to run from the 29 June until the 10 July 2020 and then further hearings will take place from the 10 July to the 31 July, 2020
The IICSA investigation into “the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Lambeth Council from sexual abuse and exploitation” was originally announced in November 2015.
In these scheduled hearings IICSA will investigate whether there were child protection failures by public authorities, and it will carefully consider the extent to which children’s vulnerabilities put them at greater risk of sexual abuse, and how this may have impacted the response of authorities.
In advance of the hearings the leader of Lambeth Council, Jack Hopkins said that children had been “betrayed by the organisation entrusted to protect them”.
Councillor Hopkins restated the council’s earlier apology for the abuse suffered at former Lambeth children’s and while he accepted that nothing can right the wrongs of the past he said that the redress scheme set up by Lambeth Council in January, 2018 and which has paid out £30.7 million in redress to date evidences the commitment of Lambeth Council to accept responsibility for its past failings.
Councillor Hopkins says that “Lambeth became the first, and so far only, council in the country to develop a redress scheme after the scale of abuse in its former children’s homes was revealed by survivors. By simplifying the redress process the scheme means far more of the compensation goes to survivors of abuse, rather than being taken up by legal fees. It also means no survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court.”
It is anticipated that over the course of the four week hearings that evidence will be heard from complainant core participants, former elected councillors of Lambeth council, police officers and other public authorities.
From the outset Lambeth have committed to engaging with IICSA in an open and transparent fashion, to date it has disclosed 250,000 pages of documents and files to IICSA and its corporate witness statement runs to more than 300 pages and makes reference to over 250 exhibits.
Despite all the action taken by Lambeth to date Councillor Hopkins accepts that “…many former children’s homes residents will never be able to forgive the council for their childhood experiences. But we are determined to do all we can to deliver swift redress to those who have waited so long to even have acknowledgement of the suffering they experienced.”
An official update of the Lambeth Redress Scheme which issued in April 2020 stated that a total of 1,479 applications have been received since the Scheme opened on 2 January 2018.
However, only 50% of the applications received have been processed through to conclusion with a total of £30.7 million having been paid in redress compensation directly to applicants.
The total cost of the Scheme to date is £42.5 million which includes additional payments in respect of applicants legal costs, the council’s own legal costs in processing applications and other costs including rehabilitation, therapy and counselling for applicants, cost of instructing medical experts and social records chronology and also on administrative & staffing costs.
We will be publishing a separate BLOG later in the week setting out more detailed analysis of the April 2020 update for those who may have an interest in the same.
Written by Sharon Moohan at BLM