Following the passing of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the last hours of the parliament before the recess for the December election there has been a rapid progression in the matter.
The recommendations were made in 2017 but since then, the collapse of the NI Executive and the disruption caused by Brexit and debates about who could or could not make laws for NI, little had progressed.
Whilst the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England & Wales focuses its attention on reviewing legal processes available to deliver reparation to victims and survivors of abuse, and in particular to consider whether the law (such as the statute of Limitations) should be changed, we can see the impact a change in the law can have in other jurisdictions.
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 the 1 April 2019 the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme, which has been operational since the 1 January 2018, reported on its progress.
The scheme had received 1,115 applications by mid-March this year. Applications have in the main been from England, though applications have also been received from the USA, Australia, Canada and Europe.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council leader, said:
“As the new leader of this council I am committed to our pledge to survivors that this council will not be like previous administrations and will continue to face up to the past.
“This scheme is incredibly important as it acknowledges how very badly our former children’s home residents were let down. We know that many former children’s homes residents will never be able to forgive the council for their childhood experiences.
“But we are determined to do all we can to deliver swift and compassionate redress to those who have waited so long to even have acknowledgement of the suffering they experienced. I want to apologise to abuse survivors of behalf of the council.”
Manchester City Football Club has announced the launch of a ‘survivor’s scheme’ to compensate victims of non-recent abuse. The scheme, which will incorporate both compensation and a formal apology, is the first of its kind to be set up by one of the football clubs implicated in football’s sex abuse scandal.
The scheme is for survivors of abuse by Barry Bennell, the former youth coach, who is currently serving a 30 year prison sentence, and with a further criminal trial potentially still to follow. The scheme also incorporates the victims of John Broome, a former talent spotter and coach connected with Manchester City, against whom allegations of assault have also been made. Broome died in 2010.
In establishing the National Redress Scheme the Australian Government was very clear that it expected every institution in which sexual abuse of children occurred to be accountable for that abuse and to join the Scheme and provide redress.
In fact the Australian Department of Social Services has a dedicated team who contacts Institutions that may have responsibility for abuse, strongly encourages them to join the Scheme, and provides information about how to do so.
It is not immediately apparent how a judgement in a judicial review over a planning consent could have any impact on the Redress preparations being made in Stormont following the recommendations of Sir Anthony Hart in the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry. However there could be significant consequences creating even greater confusion in the situation as it stands.