Child sex abuse victims ‘let down’ by government says inquiry chair

Posted: 26th October 2023

The chairwoman of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said victims have been “let down” by the government.

Prof Alexis Jay completed the inquiry into the failure of institutions to protect children in care from sexual abuse and exploitation a year ago.

The government accepted the need for action on 19 of its 20 recommendations in May.

But Prof Jay said she was “frustrated” victims had not seen action a year on.

‘Isn’t good enough’

She told the BBC she felt the government had failed to make any significant progress in the year since she published her report and she was “hugely disappointed” as a result.

She said: “They need to just get on and do it. I and so many others, including victims, have spent eight years of our lives trying to ensure that children will be made safer in this country and what could be more important than that?”

“This just isn’t good enough. I would like all political parties to put in their manifestos a clear commitment to deliver the recommendations of my public inquiry final report.”

Prof Jay spent eight years on the inquiry, which cost £188m and investigated places including schools and churches as well as abuse by organised crime and on the internet.

But the largest strand of its work centred around councils in Nottinghamshire, where it heard accounts from about 350 victims of abuse in local children’s homes and foster care over five decades.

Thousands of other victims from across the UK are also said to have also contributed to IICSA’s “Truth Project”.

Prof Jay’s final report on 20 October last year found common themes across different institutions including prioritising reputations over the protection of children and a lack of appropriate policies and procedures.

The home secretary has since announced consultations on a redress scheme for victims and a “mandatary reporting” law, where responsible adults would be placed under a legal obligation to report child sex abuse, or face prosecution.

Prof Jay said the government’s response had been “weak” and “apparently disingenuous” and said some recommendations that were “deemed to be accepted” had not been in reality.

A Home Office spokesperson said the government remained “committed to confronting and combatting this horrific crime wherever and whenever it occurs”, and would do everything it could to keep children safe, provide support to victims and ensure they received support to rebuild their lives.

The spokesperson added: “The government is continuing to drive forward commitments made in our response to the independent inquiry. This includes making good progress on mandatory reporting, recently concluding the call for evidence, and now working through next steps.

“We will continue to engage with stakeholders, victims and survivors to ensure we are doing all we can to tackle this horrific crime.”

Source: Child sex abuse victims ‘let down’ by government says inquiry chair – BBC News

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