April 24, 2024

Will the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse turn out to be anything more than a large piece of research?

Over the last few years the UK government put quite a bit of money into funding an independent inquiry into how various organisations failed to protect children from sexual abuse and failed to take their concerns seriously, when the children reported abuse.

The inquiry has highlighted serious failings and come up with a bunch of recommendations for the government to implement.

But will those recommendations actually change anything?

The Inquiry found, for example, that both Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Council failed to protect children from sexual abuse for over 50 years. Christ. But it also commented that nothing really improved in both Councils despite many reviews of the care system being commissioned by the authorities.

In other words, commissioned reviews can easily result in nothing more than a piece of research and evidence, which makes absolutely no difference to what people do. This suggests that if we want to understand what drives sexual abuse within institutions and what drives institutions turning a blind eye to sexual abuse, we need to look beyond institutional awareness and understanding.

It’s a fair question to ask then, besides providing a resource which can be used to improve people’s understanding of what has been going on over the last fifty to sixty years in Britain’s institutions, will IICSA result in any serious change?

Furthermore, ought one of the remits of IICSA have been to understand the factors that drive both sexual abuse and the neglect of children, who come forth with disclosures about child sexual abuse?

IICSA made 20 recommendations, publishing its final report in October 2022.

The government responded to the IICSA report, in May 2023, and said that they would act on all but one of the report’s 20 recommendations. The one recommendation they will not act on is the enquiry’s recommendation for a ban on the use of pain compliance techniques on children in custodial institutions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/response-to-the-final-report-of-the-independent-inquiry-into-child-sexual-abuse/government-response-to-the-final-report-of-the-independent-inquiry-into-child-sexual-abuse

A pressure group, formed by 64 organisations, called IICSA Changemakers, have argued that the government ‘needs to go further’ to prevent and tackle child sexual abuse. And in particular that:

The commitments that have been made do not translate to immediate action which would achieve the scale of change required to create and sustain a national movement to prevent, recognise, and address child sexual abuse.

Today’s announcement did not commit to vital recommendations that would have made a real difference.

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/iicsa-changemakers-press-releases/iicsa-press-release-2023-05-25.pdf

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/IICSA-changemakers

The Chair of the Inquiry said, of the recommendations, on BBC Woman’s Hour: that several of the government’s responses to the inquiry’s proposals were “vague, unspecific and without a timeline” and “frequently did not address the issues contained in the recommendations”.

Children will not get adequate abuse protection from government response to CSA inquiry, warns chair

Interestingly, the Association of Directors of Children Services, reckoned there was no evidence to suggest that mandatory reporting would make children safer. They said:

Currently, the evidence does not suggest this offers greater protections for children or improves their outcomes, however, it could have the unintended consequence of overwhelming local services requiring a pivot away from the provision of help and support to assessment and investigation.

 

 

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