Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill and Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Update

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed that it will debate the Limitation Abolition Bill, at Stage 1, in the afternoon of Thursday 27 April.

In other news, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, whose cost from its set-up on 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2017 has recently been confirmed at over £5.7m, has now set the timetable for Phase 1 of its Public Hearings. Commencing on 31 May there are evidence sessions scheduled to 9 June covering: Continue reading

Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has endorsed the general principles of the Bill proposing the retrospective abolition of limitation in cases of childhood abuse. Nonetheless, significant issues of detail and relevant concerns have been flagged in the Committee’s Stage 1 Report. This is now for further consideration by the Scottish Government. We summarise the position taken by the Committee on pre-26 September 1964 abuse then list the issues which have been flagged for further attention. Continue reading

Sexual abuse and sport: the current position

Earlier this month Barry Bennell, former coach with Crewe Alexander, was charged with 12 further counts of indecent assault and serious sexual assault on boys in the years between 1980 and 1987. This brings the outstanding charges against him to 20 since Andy Woodward and other players’ allegations about him were first made in November 2016.  He has pleaded Not Guilty to all charges.

Since those initial disclosures there has been a succession of disclosures and developments within UK football and other sports.

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Findings & recommendations from the HIA report

The report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland launched today. A copy of the report was delivered to the Executive Office (formerly the Office of First and Deputy First Minister).  The report, which is available online, consists of 10 volumes amounting to 2300 pages.

It deals with issues such as an apology; by whom should an apology be made and the nature of that apology. It also addresses a memorial or tribute to those who suffered abuse, a redress scheme, findings of failings against the State and voluntary providers of residential care homes.

The initial points of interest are the recommendation for a Redress Scheme and criticisms of the involvement of the State in the supervision and inspection of various homes.

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IICSA: 2017 and beyond

Following our blog of 19 December 2016 providing an overview of the IICSA’s Internal Review Report, below we set out the key points relating to the 13 investigations, the research programme and seminar programme, following the IICSA’s detailed update.

Investigation update

The IICSA has provided a progress report for each investigation detailing proposed changes, key milestones in the investigations and further information about the Inquiry’s working methods.

Detailed below are the key updates illustrating the progress made and the IICSA’s next steps:

Investigations Scope Key Updates from the Inquiry
Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale ·         To investigate failings by Rochdale Borough Council and other public bodies who may have known about the risks to children at Cambridge House and Knowl View. ·         Requests for statements from a number of witnesses, including complainants, will commence shortly.

·         Continue to obtain and analyse documents from institutions.

·         A single public hearing to be held in October 2017 to examine issues at Cambridge House and Knowl View School.

Child Sexual Exploitation by Organised Networks ·         To examine how effectively institutions have responded building on previous investigations and assessing how institutions have learned lessons, implemented recommendations and introduced new strategies.

·         A small amendment to this investigation is likely in order to enable the Inquiry to make recommendations setting out better ways to intervene and prevent abuse in the future.

·         The Inquiry will select a sample of geographical areas and seek information from institutions during the first half of 2017 – to date the Inquiry has identified the best way to approach this wide ranging topic, including analysing data to assist with identifying features that are linked to potential vulnerability to child sexual exploitation in particular geographical areas.

·         Carry out qualitative research with convicted sexual offenders to understand how child sexual exploitation networks are formed and sustained and make recommendations for the future.

Accountability and Reparations ·         How effectively existing legal processes and support services make reparations to victims and survivors.

·         This investigation is underpinned by work assessing support services and its delivery.

·         Following meetings with claimant and defendant legal representatives, the published issue paper on the civil justice system and related seminars discussing the system and ideas for improvements, the Inquiry will assess further information and data to be received from the various participants.

·         Hold a further seminar in February 2017 following the research team’s analysis of data from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority 2013-2015, to understand the compensation currently paid to victims.

·         March 2017 – hold a preliminary hearing to consider submissions on the scope of the Inquiry’s public hearings in relation to five case studies:

1)       North Wales Children’s Homes;

2)       Forde Park Approved School;

3)       St Leonard’s Children’s Home;

4)       St Aidan’s & St Vincent’s Children’s Homes

5)       Stanhope Castle Approved School.

Requests for information from relevant institutions have been made and in early 2017 there will be requests for statements from CPs.

Children in Custodial Institutions ·         The extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation while in custodial institutions including secure children’s homes, secure training centres and youth offender institutions. ·         Currently considering the timing for the first preliminary hearing.

·         Qualitative research in relation to three young offender institutions to be undertaken. This will involve interviewing staff and young people about sexual abuse safeguarding procedures and practices.

The Internet ·         Investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the internet. ·         Undertaking three rapid evidence assessments covering the scale of online child sexual abuse, the characteristics of those who commit online child sexual abuse and the characteristics of victims of online child sexual abuse.

·         Requests for evidence expected in early 2017 following further briefing meetings.

·         Middle of 2017 – open applications for CP status.

·         Early 2018 – first introductory public hearing.

Investigation into the Institutional Responses to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC ·         Inquiry into the institutional responses to allegations involving Lord Janner. ·         Currently considering 100,000 pages of material following disclosure from a number of organisations/individuals, preliminary hearings and CP designation.

·         Requests for witness statements from individuals and institutions requested.

·         Expert witnesses instructed to produce a report on the state of residential care and to report on the methods of conducting criminal investigations relating to child sexual abuse allegations in the relevant time period.

·         Public hearing originally scheduled for March 2017 postponed so that related criminal investigations are not prejudiced and to protect the welfare of complainants.

·         Provisional decision by the Chair (to be circulated to CPs and other interested parties) to proceed with the investigation with a stronger focus on the institutions and the timing of the oral hearings.

·         Mid-February 2017 – submissions will be sought from CPs and others with an interest in the investigation before the chair reaches a final view.

Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils ·         Investigating the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Nottingham City and Nottingham County Councils from sexual abuse and exploitation. ·         A variety of methods is to be employed to progress the investigation including: further requests for documents and witness statements, gathering evidence through research and analysing accounts of abuse provided to the Inquiry.

·         March 2017 – opening the CP application window.

·         Following receipt and consideration of CP applications, a preliminary hearing will be held.

·         Considering changes to the scope of the investigation to ensure it remains focused and proportionate. Considering the use of case studies to assist with this.

Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church ·         Investigation into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

·        Two case studies – the Diocese of Chichester and the case of Peter Ball, as well as failures in the wider Anglican Church.

·         27,000 documents have been obtained.

·         Commenced the process of obtaining witness statements.

·         Undertaken a rapid evidence assessment into literature and evidence in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches to assist with analysing the knowledge about child sexual abuse and exploitation in the Churches.

·         First quarter of 2017 – intend to make requests for witness statements from CPs.

·         March 2018 – first public hearing in relation to the Chichester Dicoese case study.

·         Further public hearing relating to Peter Ball and the wider Anglican Church to be scheduled.

Child Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools ·         This investigation is limited to schools with a boarding element. Currently no CPs designated.

Substantial preliminary work has been undertaken:

·         Requests for evidence submitted to 22 institutions – 13 relate to residential schools where the Inquiry is aware that a member of staff/adult connected with the school has been convicted of child sexual abuse.

·         Commenced a full analysis of the requested evidence.

·         Public hearings on specific case studies, seminars involving self-selected schools and primary research projects to be scheduled.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Linked to Westminster ·         Overarching inquiry into allegations of child sexual abuse and exploitation involving people of prominence – past and present, associated with Westminster. ·         Obtained a number of documents and statements from a variety of sources.

·         Third quarter of 2017 – application window for CP status to open. This will be followed by a first preliminary hearing.

Protection of Children Outside the UK ·         Investigating the extent to which institutions and organisations based in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibilities to protect children outside the UK from sexual abuse. ·         Obtaining witness statements from former child migrants.

·         31 January 2017 – further preliminary hearing scheduled.

·         End of February 2017 – first public hearing relating to the child migration programme to be held. This will provide an introduction to child migration programmes and expert evidence will provide an overview of the historical developments of such programmes.

·         July 2017 – second hearing to be scheduled to determine whether institutions took sufficient care to protect children involved and whether appropriate steps were taken in response to abuse. During this hearing consideration on the adequacy of support and reparations offered by institutions will be heard.

Children in the Care of Lambeth Council ·         An inquiry into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Lambeth Council, focusing on abuse between the 1980s and 1990s. ·         The Inquiry has made substantial requests for documentation from Lambeth Council and the police which they are analysing.

·         The Inquiry will seek to identify potential case studies connected to specific homes, individual offenders and wider thematic issues.

·         The Inquiry has received the first report from the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) – ‘Turning a Blind Eye for 33 Years’. The Inquiry will consider any new information submitted or published by the SOSA. The review report notes the Inquiry’s disappointment as SOSA’s decision to withdraw from the investigation and hopes participation may resume in the future.

·         Research into Lambeth’s demographics is underway, as well as research into structure and funding arrangements for the provision of services to children.

Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church ·         Examining the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

·         Two case studies – the English Benedictine Congregation and the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

·         The Inquiry will review the need to consider other institutions relating to the Roman Catholic Church, however it is thought detailed consideration of the two case studies will give the Inquiry thorough insight into the institutional failures.

·         Over 4000 potentially relevant documents have been obtained from congregations. Material from other institutions such as the police and Charity Commission has also been obtained. All material is currently being analysed.

·         A rapid evidence assessment of the literature and evidence relating to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches has been undertaken.

·         Early 2017 requests for statements from CPs will be submitted. Work will first focus on the English Benedictine Congregation.

·         Further preliminary hearing to be held.

·         December 2017 – a public hearing will be held.

·         2017 – a research project will examine how national safeguarding policies and practices have been implemented locally by relevant church authorities.

·         2018 – further hearings relating to the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the wider Roman Catholic Church will be scheduled.

Research programme

Primary research – research that collects and analyses new data, the programme for 2017/2018:

  • Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches – qualitative research (in a sample of dioceses) to understand at a local level national safeguarding policy and practice has been implemented;
  • Child Sexual Exploitation by Organised Networks – qualitative research with perpetrators to understand how networks are created and maintained. This investigation will also assess prevention approaches and protective factors;
  • Accountability and Reparations – qualitative research with victims/survivors to understand the various support services and the challenges with such and qualitative and quantitative research with the general public to gather views on sentencing and accountability in child sexual abuse cases;
  • Children in Custodial Institutions – qualitative research in three young offender institutions, including interviewing staff and young people about safeguarding procedures and practices;
  • Residential Schools – undertake a survey to understand the scale of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in schools and qualitative research in a sample of schools, including interviewing victims/survivors, staff, parents, children and young people to understand the nature, risk and protective factors.
  • Internet – qualitative research with children and young people to understand risk and protective factors associated with or facilitated by online gaming technologies. The Inquiry will also evaluate the process and impact of e-safety interventions delivered in schools to assess the effectiveness of prevention programmes.

The various investigation programmes will include consideration of the Inquiry’s themes – cultural, structural, professional & political and financial.

The Inquiry will also analyse information gathered through the Truth Project.

Seminar programme 2017/2018


February – Criminal Injuries Compensation – following the Inquiry’s consultation paper about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and criminal compensation orders, this seminar will gather information/views about:

  • The experiences of people who have sought criminal compensation and the obstacles involved;
  • The process (including appeals) for applying for criminal compensation;
  • The levels of compensation awarded.

April – Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse – Learning from Best Practice Overseas to gather information and learn in relation to:

  • Primary prevention;
  • Identification, disclosure and reporting;
  • The control/management of perpetrators and the prevention of reoffending;
  • Provision of support for victims and survivors.

July – Victims and Survivors’ Experiences: Impacts, Support Services and Redress, to gather information and views about:

  • The support needs of victims/survivors and their families;
  • The support services needed to meet people’s needs;
  • The education and development needs of professionals working with victims/survivors;
  • The role of services and professionals in supporting victims/survivors and minimising the risks of re-traumatisation;
  • The current provision of support services and the opportunities for improvement;
  • Outcomes for victims/survivors following investigations, compensation and reparation.

September – The Health Sector – this seminar will gather information/views about:

  • The current framework of relevant legislation, policies and standards in this sector in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse;
  • The role of regulation and governance to assure compliance with child protection requirements;
  • The training, guidance and support available to organisations in this sector;
  • Joint working and sharing amongst health sector organisations to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

November – The Criminal Justice System – to gather information about:

  • Collaborative working in the criminal justice system and its role in responding to child sexual abuse;
  • The risk of re-traumatisation for those involved in the system and how to minimise suck risks;
  • How the system meets the needs of offenders who are victims/survivors and
  • The support needs of victims/survivors in contact with the system.


February – Social and Political Narratives about Child Sexual Abuse – to gather information and views about:

  • How attitudes and norms about childhood and child sexual abuse have changed over time;
  • The ways changing norms may have influenced views about best practice in child protection and institutional responses;
  • How the social and political context influences institutional responses to abuse.


Miriam Rahamim, Solicitor, BLM

Sexual abuse and professional sport

Sexual abuse in the world of professional football has hit the headlines over the last few days.

Last week former professional footballer, Andy Woodward, bravely spoke publicly to The Guardian about having been seriously sexually abused by football coach and scout Barry Bennell whilst a youth player at Crewe Alexandra. Woodward, now 43, did make a career in professional football but believes that this ended prematurely at the age of 29 because of depression, anxiety and panic attacks caused as a result of the abuse.  He believes there are many more victims of Bennell.

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IICSA Mixed Messages

Once again the IICSA has hit the headlines. That has not been because of the work of the Truth Project which is now operating in London and Wales; the further research being commissioned in connection with child sexual abuse; or preparation for the first seminars at the end of November. They are examples of the Inquiry “getting on with the job” but those stories have been hidden by more controversy and criticism. The Inquiry needs to address the negative publicity otherwise it will lose all trust and face more accusations of cover-up and secrecy, the irony of which will not be lost on those who have suffered abuse.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry update

In the Scottish Parliament today, the Scottish Government Education Minister, John Swinney reported he is “considering” extending the remit of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. On the one hand, he acknowledged, after recently consulting survivor’s groups, their objections to the narrowness of the remit of the Inquiry in Scotland, as relating to children in care. On the other hand, he explained he has sought to balance that against delay if the remit is widened, and the interests of survivors affected by such delay. Even with its current remit the inquiry is currently scheduled to last another three years. The Inquiry has commissioned research and has commenced the process of gathering information and documents. The Inquiry has already gathered numerous accounts of abuse through private sessions taking place throughout the UK.

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IICSA – focus on the future

The Home Affairs Committee met yesterday to discuss the work of the IICSA. IICSA witnesses were: Professor Alexis Jay OBE – Chair, and Panel Members Ivor Frank and Drusilla Sharpling CBE.

The Committee  sought to address three key areas:

  1. What was going on? Focusing on the departure of Dame Lowell Goddard and other key players;
  2. A synopsis of where the IICSA was now; and
  3. Where the Inquiry goes from here.

The IICSA witnesses provided a unified front and although at they were times unable to answer questions due to confidentiality/HR issues, or an understandable reluctance to engage in further personal criticism, they were able to explain:

  • As Panel members they had had concerns about Goddard’s leadership – they considered she would have preferred to have sat without a Panel. Under her tenure they were kept at a distance from a lot of the Inquiry’s activities. Drusilla Sharpling reported concerns regarding Goddard’s leadership and the IICSA’s progress to the Home Office in April 2016 but made it very clear she gave no permission then for such concerns to be taken further; it was merely a notification of the situation to the Home Office.
  • The witnesses refused to be drawn into media speculation, especially that relating to Ben Emmerson QC, but they confirmed Emmerson was retained by the Inquiry following his resignation to undertake a handover, however this period was coming to an end shortly. Professor Jay reiterated a number of times that the Inquiry is bigger than any individual, ego or personality.
  • The Inquiry has made progress and there have been collective achievements as a result of the hard work of staff, who would continue to work hard moving forward. Professor Jay made it clear the review she initiated following her appointment was on-going and further details would be provided in due course and although the IICSA’s work was moving forward it would be tackled in a different way. Its scope however would not be reduced. The witnesses explained a plan was in place to progress and report with the intention that significant progress will have been made by 2020; with an interim report to be produced by 2018 and further reports to be provided as progress is made.
  • When asked about the perceived lost confidence in the Inquiry, the IICSA witnesses said they felt the Inquiry had the confidence of many, they continued to engage with survivors and would be taking up more invitations to go and talk about the work of the Inquiry.

Ivor Frank and Drusilla Sharpling confirmed they had no issues with Jay’s leadership. Ivor Frank was keen to highlight to the Committee, that whilst he understood their interest and request for further information relating to the number of Home Office employees working for the IICSA, the IICSA guarded its independence. The IICSA witnesses also made it clear they were present as a matter of courtesy not compulsion.

Professor Jay said the Inquiry would welcome a period of time with no distractions and hopefully moving forward this can be achieved.

Mark Sedwill – Permanent Secretary, Home Office, was then interviewed. The questions put to him related to old territory: Goddard’s appointment; the relationship between the IICSA and the Home Office; allegations against Goddard. He was heavily criticised, along with Amber Rudd, in relation to the evidence they previously gave. Sedwell suggested his evidence was based on the line of questioning, previously the focus was on Goddard’s own motives for stepping down. He confirmed the concerns raised by Drusilla Sharpling were an early warning to the Home Office but it was understood the Panel were seeking to deal with concerns internally. If a formal complaint had been made, steps would have been taken. Sedwill also confirmed Goddard made no request to the Home Office to withdraw her resignation as suggested in the press.

The media might have been hoping or expecting more “gossip” to fuel the frenzy that has surrounded the IICSA in the last few months, but the IICSA – presented yesterday by its new Chair and two of its Panel members, refused to engage in such discussions instead seeking to focus public attention on the IICSA’s work – previous, current and on-going, and the purpose for which the IICSA was established.


Miriam Rahamim, Solicitor, BLM

Witch hunts

The IICSA again makes the headlines today with more “revelations” of a fractured organisation unable to cope with the task it has been set. The Times reports it has investigated in particular the work of the former chair Dame Lowell Goddard and it reports various allegations made against her. Meanwhile, in advance of the expected imminent publication of the review of the work of Operation Midland by the Metropolitan Police, it is also reported that Lord Bramall has received a personal apology from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. That was in connection with having been publically named in an investigation in to allegations of the sexual abuse of children.

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