IICSA publishes report in Accountability and Reparations investigation

At 12pm on Thursday 19 September 2019 IICSA published its report in the Accountability and Reparations investigation.

This IICSA investigation was set up to inquire into the extent to which existing support services and available legal process effectively deliver reparations to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

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IICSA – residential schools

Phase 1 of the residential schools investigation will begin on 30 September. The hearing is due to last for two weeks and during the hearing regard will be given to the following:

  • Publication of a report in connection with closed schools
  • Oral evidence in connection with specific music and special needs schools
  • Further information about the issues and organisations involved in phase 2

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IICSA finds that Nottinghamshire County and Nottingham City Council failed children who were sexually abused while in their care

IICSA today published its most recent report on children in the care of the Nottinghamshire councils. It does not make easy reading for the councils involved.

This investigation examined institutional responses to allegations of sexual abuse of children in the care of Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council, and other organisations such as Nottinghamshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, and to consider the appropriateness of steps taken to protect these children from abuse.


In the course of this investigation IICSA received evidence from about 350 complainants who made allegations of sexual abuse whilst in the care of the Councils from the 1960s onwards. This is the largest number of allegations of sexual abuse in a single investigation that IICSA has investigated to date.

IICSA found that the councils had failed in their statutory duty to protect children in their care from sexual abuse and had in fact exposed them to the risk, and reality, of sexual abuse perpetrated by residential staff and foster carers to whom their care had been entrusted by the councils.

Whilst both councils had safeguards and child protection policies in place, staff often failed to understand what was required of them in order to protect the children under their care and the councils took no action against those members of staff who did not comply. IICSA found that in the residential setting the evidence was that the situation was further exacerbated by poor recruitment practices, few qualified staff, little in-service training, overcrowding and low staffing ratios.

IICSA issued a stern reminder to all who are responsible for the care of children that regardless of the limitations that any organisation/institution operates under staff must always remember that the sexual abuse of children is a criminal offence.

IICSA noted that both councils had commissioned a number of reviews which identified the changes that needed to be made to stop the sexual abuse of the children in their care but had not learned from their mistakes..

Over three decades (i.e. from the 1970’s to the 1990’s) children in residential and foster care with the Councils were exposed to physical abuse, violence and sexual abuse which included rapes, sexual assaults, and voyeurism. Sexual activities also took place between children in care.

16 residential staff were convicted of sexual abuse of children in residential care, 10 foster carers were convicted of sexual abuse of their foster children, and IICSA said it was aware of 12 convictions relating to the harmful sexual behaviour of children against other children in care.

IICSA concluded that neither of the Councils had a satisfactory approach to addressing the issue of harmful sexual behaviour of children in care and more importantly it noted that while there is currently a greater understanding of this issue, there is no national strategy or framework for the prevention of, or response to, harmful sexual behaviour between children in care.

The Police only commenced investigations into allegations of non-recent abuse of children in residential care in 2011 and IICSA pointed out that these investigations were under resourced, did not treat allegations seriously enough and time was lost. IICSA noted that efforts were now being made by Nottinghamshire Police to address these issues.

The councils took different approaches to apologising. Nottinghamshire Council had made public apology while Nottingham City Council had been slow to apologise. There are ongoing issues in the provision and consistency of support and counselling for those who have suffered sexual abuse in care.

The following recommendations were made:

  • “Nottingham City Council should assess the potential risks posed by current and former foster carers directly provided by the council in relation to the sexual abuse of children. They should also ensure that current and former foster carers provided by external agencies are assessed by those agencies. Any concerns which arise should be referred to the appropriate body or process, including the Disclosure and Barring Service, the local authority designated officer (LADO) or equivalent, the fostering panel and the police. 
  • Nottinghamshire County Council should assess the potential risks posed by current and former residential care staff and foster carers, which are directly provided by the council, in relation to the sexual abuse of children. They should also ensure that current and former staff in residential care provided by external agencies, and current and former foster carers provided by external agencies, are assessed by those agencies. Any concerns which arise should be referred to the appropriate body or process, including the Disclosure and Barring Service, the relevant regulatory body, the local authority designated officer (LADO), the fostering panel and the police. 
  • Nottingham City Council and its child protection partners should commission an independent, external evaluation of their practice concerning harmful sexual behaviour, including responses, prevention, assessment, intervention and workforce development. An action plan should be set up to ensure that any recommendations are responded to in a timely manner and progress should be reported to City’s Safeguarding Children Partnership.”

This report is a particularly damning report for the two councils involved however, the report is essential reading for other local authorities so that they can now consider the issues identified in the course of this investigation and take the necessary steps to get their own house is order.


news_21734JDWritten by Sharon Moohan at BLM

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: an update

Today, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) will resume hearing evidence as part of Phase 4 of its public hearing sessions.

Phase 4 is on residential care establishments run by male religious orders. Previously in this phase, opening statements and evidence were heard over nine days between 4 and 20 June 2019 relating to one establishment run by a particular order. Part of the evidence heard on 20 June was given by a convicted abuser currently serving a ten year jail sentence. A video link from Dumfries Prison to SCAI in Edinburgh was used for that purpose. The man concerned was accompanied by a solicitor when giving his evidence. He was advised in advance by SCAI’s Chair, Lady Smith, of his right not to answer any question where his evidence may incriminate him beyond his present conviction. He was also warned that any evidence given by him could be used in the context of any future criminal proceedings. It could also be used in future civil cases. The man continues to maintain his innocence. He explained that he has made an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for his case to be reviewed.

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IICSA report – the Archdiocese of Birmingham

The strategic responsibility and focus which governing bodies must have for safeguarding can now be seen from the IICSA report published today. As part of the Roman Catholic Investigation, IICSA considered the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The case study considered the extent of abuse, failures to protect children, adequacy of responses, lessons learned and changes thereafter implemented.

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Further IICSA progress

The report in the Roman Catholic investigation – Archdiocese of Birmingham case study will be published today.  IICSA has meanwhile announced a number of new dates and further research.

Public hearings

Religious organisations and settings – a two week hearing will commence on 16 March 2020.

All public hearings will have concluded by November 2020.

Research

IICSA has undertaken research in connection with various investigations and themes. It has now announced a new research project focused on understanding how abuse impacts different communities, in particular in the case of this project black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. In undertaking this research IICSA hopes to find out about:

  • barriers to disclosure and reporting of child sexual abuse in BAME communities in England and Wales.
  • the nature of support victims and survivors in these communities receive in relation to child sexual abuse.
  • the views of individuals from BAME communities on, and experiences of, interactions with institutions in relation to child sexual abuse (for example, education, support services, police).

The project will include a literature review, focus groups held within a small number of case study areas in England & Wales and some one to one interviews. The field work will be undertaken in autumn 2019 and the research report will be published in autumn 2020.


jefferson_p_web Paula Jefferson, Partner, BLM