Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry – “Not just a national crisis, but a global one.”

Image copyright – Inquiry Chair Professor Alexis Jay 

Our Head of Abuse Claims, Malcolm Johnson, has commented on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s final report, after its publication earlier today:

 “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to confront the ugly face of child sexual abuse, and the Inquiry has stepped up to the task. Mandatory reporting will be a massive step forward in the protection of children. Most European countries together with parts of the US, Canada and Australia already have this law but the UK has been left behind. The current state of the law in relation to the protection of children on the internet badly needs tightening up, and we have yet to tackle the increasing problem of child sexual exploitation. The creation of a Cabinet Minister for Children will put our childcare system right at the heart of government.  I hope that this or any future government gets to work immediately to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations in full.”

What the report says

After seven years of investigating abuse in 15 different settings, including local authorities, churches, and schools, the Inquiry has made the following recommendations for changes in the law:

  • Mandatory reporting – the government should change the law so that people working with children are required to report allegations of child sexual abuse. Failure to do so could lead to those people committing the new criminal offence of “failure to report an allegation of child sexual abuse when required to do so.”
  • The establishment of a National Redress Scheme for England and Wales, to provide some monetary redress for child sexual abuse for those who have been let down by institutions in the past. This will be funded by those institutions.
  • A new Child Protection Authority to shine a spotlight on child sexual abuse. This will have the power to go in and inspect any institution associated with children.

Child sexual abuse is a “global crisis”. According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 3.1 million adults in England and Wales have been sexually abused before the age of 16. The number of children abused in a single year is around 500,000.

As a response to the recent scandals of aid workers abusing children in foreign countries, the Inquiry proposes extending the DBS regime to those working with children overseas.

In relation to the internet, the Inquiry proposes more robust age verification as well as online pre-screening for sexual images of children. The Inquiry said that internet companies had “failed to demonstrate that they knew the scale of underage internet use” and their responses at times “seemed reactive and intended to counteract adverse medial reporting and reputational damage.” In 2020, the Internet Watch Foundation processed over 153,000 reports containing child sexual abuse imagery and the figure is rising.

Finally, the Inquiry has proposed to remove the three-year limitation period for personal injury claims brought by victims of abuse. It also wishes to implement further changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which exists to compensate victims of crime.

Read the full report here >>

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