New York State expecting thousands of abuse claims

The State of New York’s Child Victims Act comes into force on 14 August. Thousands of claims are expected.

The commencement  of the Child Victims Act in New York State, will open a one-year window for victims (using the terminology of the legislation), starting on the 14 August 2019,  of any age to pursue a claim for damages against their alleged abusers. The claim does not have to be settled within the one-year window, but must be filed at Court during that time.

Previously time-barred claims can also be revived, if filed within the one year window.

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Redress re-visited in Jersey

On the 1 July 2019 a new year-long scheme to provide redress to people who, as children, suffered abuse or harm, between 1945 and 2005 has been launched in Jersey.

The new Jersey Redress Scheme is open for applications for 12 months from 1 July 2019 until 30 June 2020.

This Redress Scheme is for people who were either a resident in a Government of Jersey children’s home, in a Government of Jersey foster care placement or accommodated at Les Chênes secure residential unit between those dates.

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Update on the Advance Payment Scheme in Scotland

The Advanced Payment Scheme (APS) is open to anyone who was in care as a child and was abused in care in Scotland before December 2004. Payments will be made on a discretionary basis to those who have a terminal illness or who are age 70 or over.

The APS has worked well with the first payments being made within three weeks of its launch.

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The Australian National Redress Scheme – one year on

The Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) commenced on the 1st July, 2018.

On the first anniversary of the NRS its work can be summarised as follows:­­­

  • The NRS has received over 4,100 applications
  • 229 Redress payments have been made
  • In addition, 85 offers have been made. (Applicants have six months to consider an offer)
  • The average Redress payment is around $83,000.00
  • The NRS has answered more than 40,000 phone calls and its website has had over 877,000 page views.

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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 announces further plans

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has announced plans for hearing further evidence in 2019 and 2020. In chronological order, SCAI plans to:

  • By late 2019 – complete evidence for the presently ongoing Phase 4 hearings on child care establishments run by male religious orders.
  •  Before the end of 2019 – start Phase 5 hearings on child abuse arising in child migration programmes. SCAI has, in fact, already taken evidence by video link from Australia on 21 and 23 January and 25 March 2019 from three witnesses whose evidence is relevant to this phase.
  • Spring 2020 – return to complete Phase 1. This phase is on the background and context to SCAI’s work including the history and governance of institutions and expert evidence on the legislative and regulatory framework for children in care.
  •  Summer 2020 – start Phase 6 hearings on provision at 7 Scottish boarding schools. Details of these schools can be seen on SCAI’s webpage here.  

SCAI has also indicated an intention to investigate foster care. The current plan is for evidence to be heard on that, presumably at a Phase 7, around the end of 2020.

Separately, a call has been made by a traveller rights activist for SCAI to open up a new phase focussing on the experience of Scottish child travellers. It remains unknown whether SCAI’s work will be specifically extended for that, with previous calls to extend the remit of the Inquiry (to non-residential care) not having been implemented by the Scottish Government. It is also worth emphasising that SCAI is investigating the abuse of children in care, including children whose care was arranged in Scotland. Scottish child travellers who were in care or had their care arranged in Scotland are, therefore, already covered by SCAI’s remit.

When it was set up in October 2015, SCAI was tasked with reporting to Scottish Government by October 2019. The timescale has been extended to “as soon as reasonably practicable” after then. To date, SCAI has produced two sets of findings, both of which are on evidence heard at Phase 2. No recommendations have yet been published. With evidence now scheduled to run at least until the end of 2020, it may be some considerable time yet before SCAI’s work is done.


Frank Hughes, partner and Fiona McEwan, associate