IICSA’s Interim Report – An Overview

Over the last few weeks we have provided updates on the publication of the IICSA’s first two investigation reports – Rochdale and Child Migration. This week the IICSA published their Interim Report (“the Report”) as required by their Terms of Reference. The Report brings together the IICSA’s work to date following the five public hearings held, two investigation reports and a series of seminars discussing issues relevant to child sexual abuse. Continue reading

Sports abuse – an update

There have been a number of developments this month in respect of alleged abuse within sport. Continue reading

Impact of the Abolition and Amendment of the Law of Limitation in relation to non-recent child abuse – comparative experiences

Western Australia is the latest state to introduce laws which will enhance the prospects of success for claimants’ bringing claims for damages arising out of non-recent sexual abuse. Following the lead of all other states, apart from South Australia, legislation has just been enacted that will abolish the 6 year limitation period.   The recently concluded Royal Commission found that on average an individual waited 22 years to disclose their abusive experiences   The changes being introduced also provide a legal basis for suing institutions in the name of their current office holders and include provisions designed to overcome difficulties survivors may face in identifying a correct defendant.  Continue reading

Children’s services to be contracted out to independent providers?

At a time when the recent Supreme Court decision has focused minds on the issue of legal liability for foster care, and with ever increasing demands on local authority children’s services, Laing Buisson, healthcare consultant, has published a report suggesting large-scale contracting out of children’s services is imminent.

Central government funding for local authorities has fallen by £2.4 billion since 2010, however the expectation to deliver good outcomes and provide better services remains.

The report states that there is a drive towards a ‘payment by results’ approach and because of the scale of the children’s social care market it is an attractive option for investors.

Laing Buisson refers to a successful fostering scheme in Birmingham which is one of the children’s services which has been taken over by a Government trust. The scheme is called ‘The Step Down Programme’ and is funded through a social impact bond. The provider is a social capital investment fund and they only get paid if a foster placement remains stable after 52 weeks.

The programme saved the council approximately £880,000 with 70% of the placements making it through the project and remaining stable.

The report considers moving services to outside providers and could offer ‘scale and scope’ to services which find themselves under huge budget demands, with associated improvement in quality and better value for money.

However, this is not the first time there has been a suggestion that children’s services should be moved from local authorities to independent providers. In 2014 the Government reversed a decision to allow councils to outsource children’s services to outside providers, following a privatisation row. With the introduction of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 there were concerns over how the ‘exemption clause’ could open the door to private providers. Involvement of external providers in other traditional local authority processes has not always been successful and the potential for this to be seen as a negative money making option must not be ignored. There is no straightforward answer to this conundrum but clearly with increasing demand and need it is not a problem which can be ignored.

Written by Nicola Aspinwall, solicitor at BLM

Vicarious Liability is on the move – again!

The long awaited decision in Natasha Armes (NA) v Nottinghamshire County Council [18.10.2017] UKSC  was handed down today in the Supreme Court by Lord Reed.

The court rejected an argument that the local authority had a non-delegable duty of care but decided (4:1) for the claimant /appellant, Natasha Armes, that the local authority is vicariously liable for physical and sexual abuse suffered by her whilst in foster care and perpetrated by foster carers.

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IICSA – the challenge of keeping all engaged

The Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) group have today withdrawn its support for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), with reports saying it has lost confidence in the process.

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Proposed reforms of criminal charge of Misconduct in Public Office and its potential relevance to non recent sexual abuse claims

The ancient common law offence of Misconduct in Public Office had largely fallen into disuse since the late 18th century, but has recently seen an increase in use where there have been allegations of sexual abuse. Following a consultation reform is recommended.

In the last decade the offence has been used in relation to journalists paying police officers for information and more recently it was used to prosecute a clergyman for abusing a group of young men over a 15 year period.

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