IICSA: Six political parties improve safeguarding procedure in response to Inquiry recommendations; three still to respond

30th March, 2021 8:24 am

Six UK political parties have now either created or improved their child safeguarding policy in response to recommendations made by the Inquiry during the Westminster report, with three parties named in the report yet to respond.

First published in February 2020, the report examined seven key issues including police misconduct, political parties, whips’ offices, the Paedophile Information Exchange, prosecutorial decisions, the honours system and current safeguarding policies in government, parliament and political parties. The Inquiry found a consistent pattern of deference towards people of public prominence, with political status repeatedly valued above the welfare of children.

Former police officer Robert Glen told the Inquiry his team had enough evidence to prosecute Cyril Smith in the 1970s for sexual offences against young boys. However, he said the investigation was thwarted by senior officers who claimed it was “too political”. Meanwhile, Liberal Party members, who were likely to be aware of allegations against Smith, did nothing to inhibit his political progress.

In the late 1980s, allegations arose that Peter Morrison, the Conservative MP for Chester, had either been caught by police molesting a boy on a train at Crewe or had been arrested in the men’s toilets having carried out sexual activity with young men, ‘depending on who was telling the story’. The evidence shows his party made efforts to suppress these rumours rather than conduct a formal investigation.

Even now, safeguarding remains a crucial problem for political institutions to address. In 2017, Green Party election candidate Aimee Challenor was able to appoint her father as her election agent, despite the fact that he had been charged with 22 offences, including false imprisonment, rape and sexual assault of a child.

As a result of the Inquiry’s investigations six UK political parties, as well as the current government departments, have created or improved their child safeguarding policy.

  • On 12 March 2021, the Green Party updated its whistleblowing and safeguarding policies.
  • On 8 March 2021, the Democratic Unionist Party published its safeguarding policy.
  • On 11 December 2020, the Ulster Unionist Party confirmed that its Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy had been distributed via email to party employees and members in January 2018. More info can be found here.
  • On 9 December 2020, the Labour Party confirmed it has developed comprehensive safeguarding policies and procedures. More info can be found here.
  • On 18 September 2020, the UK Government confirmed that all government departments have whistleblowing policies in place.
  • On 10 July 2020, the Co-operative Party told the Inquiry that elected representatives and lay officers will be reminded of the Party’s safeguarding policy by 31 July 2020.
  • On 26 June 2020, the Liberal Democrats confirmed that it has amended the Party’s safeguarding policy and code of conduct for working with children and vulnerable adults to clarify and expand on the procedure for whistleblowing in relation to child sexual abuse allegations.

The Westminster report found that the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and UKIP did not have proper safeguarding policies in place, and as of writing are still yet to issue formal responses to the Inquiry.

Source: IICSA

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