The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sat at 9.30am on Thursday the 14 December in Sydney for the last time.
The Chair Justice McClellan noted that on 12 November 2012 Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the creation of the Royal Commission, which was to be a national commission held jointly with each of the States and Territories.
Surgeon Ian Paterson was convicted in May of 17 counts of wounding with intent and sentenced to 15 years in prison for carrying out unnecessary breast operations on nine women and one man. Significant numbers of other former patients of Paterson’s were similarly harmed. Yesterday the Government announced an inquiry into the “‘issues raised by the Paterson case.”
As part of the IICSA research programme a series of seminars have also been held in order to gather information and views about important topics within IICSA’s remit. Each seminar is led by a member of the Inquiry Counsel team and relevant stakeholders and victim and survivor groups are invited to participate.
The seminars held or planned are:
- Criminal Injuries Compensation – this seminar relates to the accountability and reparations investigation. The first seminar, an introductory session, was held on 21 February 2017. During this seminar topics such as criminal compensation compared to the civil justice system were discussed along with the orders the courts can make. The aim of this seminar is to discuss and gather information in relation to:
- the collaborative working in the criminal justice system and its role in responding to child sexual abuse
- the risk of re-traumatisation of victims and survivors who are in contact with the criminal justice system and how this risk can be minimised
- how the criminal justice system meets the needs of offenders who are victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
- the support needs of victims and survivors in contact with the criminal justice system.
The IICSA Research and Analysis Project programme of work continues. In two blogs today we provide an update on the latest report published by the IICSA research team and on the seminar topics being considered by the IICSA, in order to gather information and views which will contribute to the investigations.
At a time when the recent Supreme Court decision has focused minds on the issue of legal liability for foster care, and with ever increasing demands on local authority children’s services, Laing Buisson, healthcare consultant, has published a report suggesting large-scale contracting out of children’s services is imminent.
Central government funding for local authorities has fallen by £2.4 billion since 2010, however the expectation to deliver good outcomes and provide better services remains.
The report states that there is a drive towards a ‘payment by results’ approach and because of the scale of the children’s social care market it is an attractive option for investors.
Laing Buisson refers to a successful fostering scheme in Birmingham which is one of the children’s services which has been taken over by a Government trust. The scheme is called ‘The Step Down Programme’ and is funded through a social impact bond. The provider is a social capital investment fund and they only get paid if a foster placement remains stable after 52 weeks.
The programme saved the council approximately £880,000 with 70% of the placements making it through the project and remaining stable.
The report considers moving services to outside providers and could offer ‘scale and scope’ to services which find themselves under huge budget demands, with associated improvement in quality and better value for money.
However, this is not the first time there has been a suggestion that children’s services should be moved from local authorities to independent providers. In 2014 the Government reversed a decision to allow councils to outsource children’s services to outside providers, following a privatisation row. With the introduction of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 there were concerns over how the ‘exemption clause’ could open the door to private providers. Involvement of external providers in other traditional local authority processes has not always been successful and the potential for this to be seen as a negative money making option must not be ignored. There is no straightforward answer to this conundrum but clearly with increasing demand and need it is not a problem which can be ignored.
Written by Nicola Aspinwall, solicitor at BLM
It has been one year since it was first revealed in the Guardian that former footballer Andy Woodward had been repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s whilst he was a trainee at Crewe Alexandra. It is reported that the Police are now investigating over 2,000 child abuse referrals in football, with a further 142 new referrals received since June this year. Investigations are now being made into complaints involving more than 330 clubs and there are currently reported to be 748 victims of 285 perpetrators connected with the sport, with the numbers likely to continue to grow.
Additionally, it was reported recently that Clive Sheldon QC and his team, which is leading the independent investigation into child sex abuse in football, are receiving psychological counselling as a result of the details of the abuse being relayed to them by the victims. The Guardian reports that Sheldon and the team felt they had a duty of care to each other, in order to encourage the uptake of counselling to prevent “secondary” or acquired trauma, also known as contagious post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is a reminder that cases of sexual abuse of this nature can have far reaching consequences, over and above the survivor of the abuse, and that there is a need to ensure that everyone concerned is provided with the appropriate care.
The inquiry team has so far reviewed over 1,200 boxes of documents from the FA’s archives, and met with 15 survivors. There are over 2,000 more boxes to be reviewed and at least 20-30 more survivors with whom they intend to engage.
The investigation itself has been delayed by four of the 46 county level associations not yet submitting their replies to the inquiry, however, this is reported as not having been a deliberate obstruction. The inquiry is now expected to return its findings to the FA by April 2018.
Written by David Milton, partner at BLM