English law does not currently require mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect. A consultation published in July by the Home Office and Department for Education seeks comments on the introduction of mandatory reporting or a duty to act. Responses are due tomorrow, 13 October, at noon.
Recent developments across the jurisdictions have highlighted the difficulties faced by all those involved in dealing with abuse allegations. The number and expectations of the different people involved presents significant problems in handling these matters in a professional yet sensitive way.
Today the Home Affairs Committee heard oral evidence from the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, and Mark Sedwill, Permanent Secretary, Home Office regarding the work of the Home Secretary. Dame Lowell Goddard who had been invited to attend did not and sent a memo (reported on yesterday) specifying her reasons for her resignation.
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016 / 2017 has been revealed on 6 September. Before June 2017, the Scottish Government intends to introduce the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. When making the announcement of the legislative programme upon this, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland said that the Bill “fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.” She added “As the Human Rights Commission has pointed out, the three year limitation rule is not appropriate for child abuse” explaining that, “the reasons for victims not coming forward until later in life are entirely understandable.” She concluded by advising the Scottish Parliament that “This Bill will ensure that the justice system works better for victims of such terrible crimes.”
Written by Frank Hughes, Partner
We are all aware of the positive and negative uses of social media. Current Inquiries in to non-recent abuse are using social media as a way of making their work known to a wider audience. In fact, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse twitter page (@IICSA_media) has over 1200 followers and the hashtag #CSAInquiry is used widely by those commenting on the Inquiry.
However social media use has also resulted in online bullying and trolling with reports of young people driven to take their own lives due to comments and campaigns on such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Sexting and revenge porn posts, trolling, online blackmail and anonymous abusive posts are a new phenomenon not even contemplated a few years ago. Light hearted comments between friends, always intended to be private, can be hurtful to others who see them inadvertently.
The seventh preliminary hearing proceeded this morning. It is in respect of a thematic investigation which considers an issue rather than a specific organisation. It is unique in that it focuses on the aftermath of abuse rather than prevention. Continue reading
Two more preliminary hearings have considered administrative matters relating to the Roman Catholic Church and the Children Overseas investigations. Comments made within these make it clear that the Inquiry diary for 2017 is in reality already full. A summary of the key information to date is as follows: Continue reading
The next three hearings of the IICSA proceeded on 27 July giving more clarification about the investigations in to the Anglican Church; Lambeth Council; and Rochdale, Cambridge House and Knowl View. An overview of their progress is as follows:
Lambeth – “the scale of the disclosure exercise is genuinely enormous.” In addition to the CHILE (a previous inquiry) archive there are 100,000 items in the “Restore” archive (mostly children’s files), and 26,000 further boxes of material. Continue reading
The IICSA has called for core participant applications in respect of its case study on child migration programmes, part of its ‘Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom’ investigations. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has meanwhile launched dedicated web portals in 12 British overseas territories which will allow for anonymous reporting of images and videos of child sexual abuse. The conviction yesterday of Richard Huckle for abuse in Malaysia of up to 200 children between ages six months to 12 years stands as evidence of the depth of the problems of overseas abuse and the internet. Continue reading
The IICSA has called for core participant applications to be made by 24 June for all interested parties in the investigation in to the Roman Catholic Church. The preliminary hearing in connection with this investigation will be held on 28 July. Continue reading