Following the independent inquiry into historic child sexual abuse in Lambeth, Councillors have to reviewed their approach to safeguarding in addition to creation of the redress scheme aiming to compensate victims.
The review of safeguarding has been encouraged by Green Councillor Scott Ainslie who stated that he felt ashamed to be a Lambeth councillor when learning of the ‘true scale of abuse in Lambeth children’s homes.’ At a council meeting in December he was quoted to have said, “I am determined that we compensate everyone we put in harm’s way and that we do everything to ensure it never happens again. Please launch a review of the redress scheme now to earn the trust of survivors.”
Councillors voted on three main issues, being mandatory training on safeguarding for all Councillors, the vetting of staff and the publishing of an action plan as requested by IICSA.
The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme (LRS) was launched on 2 January 2018 and can accept applications up to 1 January 2022.
The LRS provides survivors of physical and/or sexual and/or psychological abuse (whilst resident in a Lambeth Children’s Home) with an alternative dispute mechanism for obtaining compensation without having to go through the Courts.
It covers all Children’s Homes which were run by Lambeth Council and applies to all residents dating back to the 1930s until the Homes were closed in the 1980 and 90s.
Since the LRS opened a total of 1,479 applications have been made.
IICSA yesterday commenced its four week virtual public hearing in the Children in the Care of Lambeth Council investigation.
The first hearings are scheduled to run from the 29 June until the 10 July 2020 and then further hearings will take place from the 10 July to the 31 July, 2020
The IICSA investigation into “the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Lambeth Council from sexual abuse and exploitation” was originally announced in November 2015.
An updated report on the Lambeth Redress Scheme (LRS) was presented by Lambeth Council at a Cabinet Meeting on the 16 of September.
The report provides an update on the working of the (LRS) up to the end of June, 2019 which is half way through the period of time that the LRS was to be open to receive applications the Scheme was originally due to close on the 1 January, 2020.
On 18 December 2017, Lambeth Council (“the Council”) approved the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme (“the Scheme”) to compensate survivors of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Lambeth Children’s Homes and Shirley Oaks Primary School (“Lambeth Institutions”)from the 1930s to the 1990s.
The Scheme will commence this month with first payments anticipated to be made in March 2018. It is estimated that there are about 3,000 claims with an expected cost of £100 million. Funding is being provided through the public loan works board. Complex claims, approximately 5-10%, will be considered outside of the Scheme costing an extra £40 million.
The Council developed the Scheme with the advice and input of specialist lawyers and has said that drafting the Scheme was a difficult task as there was no precedent to follow, the Scheme being the first of its kind in England. However the Council consider one of the advantages of the Scheme is that action is being taken now rather than waiting for the conclusion of IICSA’s investigation into child sexual abuse within Lambeth.
Specifics of the Scheme:
- Duration – two years (January 2018-January 2020)
- Administered by the Council
- Applicants are to use the Scheme’s Application Form
- No survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court, applicants will receive a formal apology from the Council and appropriate counselling services
- The Council will provide applicants with specialist advice and assistance for housing, benefits, further education and employment
- Average damages unknown but a maximum award of £125,000
- Compensation payments are based on a tariff, a points based system in line with the common law. Payment should fairly reflect the severity of the abuse as well as the hurt, fear and humiliation experienced and the lifetime consequences caused by the abuse
- Funders of the Scheme are the Council via public loans from Government
- Foster care claims to be included within the Scheme where former residents of Lambeth Institutions were directly placed into foster care and abused by foster carers
- Stepped “Harm’s Way Payment” linked to time spent in a Lambeth Institution to be paid to eligible applicants of up to £10,000 where they were a resident at a Lambeth Institution and lived in a harsh environment or a payment of £10,000 where they were resident at a Lambeth Specialist Unit. A harsh environment is defined as living in an environment which caused the applicant to fear or apprehend they would be subject to immediate physical abuse and mistreatment, sexual abuse, neglect or cruelty. An applicant must be able to demonstrate that the experience interfered with their ability to experience happiness and fulfilment during the qualifying period of their childhood. However where there has been sexual abuse then written evidence in support of the application will not be required and the award will be £10,000 irrespective of time spent in the Institution.
- All applicants will receive independent legal advice of their choice paid for by the Council and have the right to appeal should they disagree with a decision made. The Council will pay applicants reasonable legal fees but cannot stop lawyers from deducting from the applicants’ compensation although the Council will encourage them not to do so.
- Appeals to be considered by a multidisciplinary appeals panel
- Where necessary psychiatric evidence can be obtained for an applicant and the Scheme includes provisions regarding instructions to experts
- If an eligible applicant is deceased the Scheme allows for a personal representative to apply on behalf of the deceased’s estate for a compensation payment however Harm’s Way Payments are not permitted in this category
- Any previous or on-going civil claims will be taken into consideration by the Council. If previous compensation payments have been made these will be considered an interim payment and considered when payments under the Scheme are calculated
- Any previous compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for the same injuries by the same perpetrator relating to the same allegations under the Scheme will be repaid by the applicant to the CICA.
The Council had hoped to develop the Scheme with the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) who have been vocal in drawing attention to the non-recent abuse that occurred in Lambeth. However SOSA do not endorse the final Scheme as they consider a number of the vital concerns they raised during consultation have not been adopted.
SOSA’s criticisms include:
- Lack of vital ingredients ensuring independence – as the Scheme is run and administered by the council
- No provision for disclosure – no obligation on the council to disclose to survivors participating in the Scheme the information or files held about them;
- Appeal – no opportunity for oral representations.
Striking the right balance when developing a scheme is difficult as there are multiple complex factors to consider and if not adequately planned schemes could fail before they come into operation or be redundant if survivors interested in participating do not engage.
It will be interesting to see how successful Lambeth’s Scheme will be and whether lessons will continue to be learned by both public and private institutions in the future when drafting their own schemes and by those engaging with them.
Other jurisdictions have employed redress schemes post their national inquiries, as in Canada, Ireland, Jersey and Australia. These examples are likely to influence the IICSA when it makes its own recommendations for redress in the future.
Written by Miriam Rahamim, solicitor at BLM
In July, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will hold second preliminary hearings in relation to the first four of its investigations. The dates of the hearings are:
- 26 July 2016, 10.30am Greville Janner
- 27 July 2016, 10.30am The Anglican Church
- 27 July 2016, 11.45am Cambridge Boys’ Hostel, Knowl View School and others
- 27 July 2016, 2pm Lambeth Council
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner
The IICSA has moved quickly in the last few months to begin its substantive work. At the end of November it announced its initial 12 investigations and most recently it has added the thirteenth investigation, the resumption of its previously announced investigation in connection with Lord Janner. Continue reading
Hon. Lowell Goddard DNZM has today announced in detail the initial 12 investigations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The Inquiry has previously explained that it will hold case studies which will be across the five designated workstreams. The announcement today includes the first investigations which will form the basis of the initial case studies. These are as follows: