Government response to IICSA recommendations “bitterly disappointing”
Lawyers who have represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse have described the government’s response to the recommendations of the IICSA as bitterly disappointing.
Posted on 23 May 2023
Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at law firm Leigh Day, said:
“The Inquiry has consistently said that its recommendations need to be implemented as a package to be effective to tackle the national epidemic of child sexual abuse (CSA).
“Accepting the need to act is not the same as acting and there is an urgent need to get on with the recommendations in the IICSA concluding report, before more children are harmed who could have been protected and more survivors of abuse die without redress.
“I know through my experience of representing survivors that the effects of abuse can be absolutely devastating for individuals – and the costs of dealing with those impose a huge burden on society each year through resulting mental and physical health needs, impact on relationships, blighted education and loss of earnings.
“Action now is needed, not more talking. IICSA is also right to be disappointed that the Government has rejected some of its recommendations – such as the recommendation to ban the use of “pain compliance techniques” on children in custody, which IICSA rightly concluded were a form of child abuse. There is also a really disheartening lack of a commitment to support for children and adult survivors; this is in my view is a betrayal of the brave survivors who gave evidence to IICSA public hearings and the Truth Project.”
The Government announced its response to the 20 recommendations put forward by IICSA on Monday 22 May. Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced that there would be a new redress scheme for victims and survivors and there will be a consultation with victims and the charities representing them to find out who the scheme should support and how.
Ms Braverman went on to say that the Government had agreed there is a “need to act” on 19 of the 20 recommendations.
The announcement was met by criticism from groups who support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse including a group of 64 organisations and individuals who represent the sectors that engage and protect children, known as the IICSA Change Makers.
The group said in a joint statement: “It is disappointing that a significant number of the cross-sector recommendations that could have led to real change have been curbed by the Government, which is either narrowing them down or assuming that existing mechanisms already address the need…We need to see a determination from Government to prevent and tackle the ongoing situation where child victims of sexual abuse are left traumatised and adult survivors are left without the appropriate support to rebuild their lives.”
The group also called for the appointment of a Minister for Children who could act as a champion for children and ensure young people’s voices are heard at the most senior level.
IICSA was established in 2015 as a statutory inquiry, independent from government. The inquiry had a wide-ranging remit to gather evidence and hear from witnesses in investigate where institutions failed to protect children in their care. Areas investigated by the inquiry included religious organisations, schools, healthcare settings, custodial institutions and sporting clubs and organisations.
Alison Millar works in the human rights department at Leigh Day, where she is the head of abuse claims
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