Update – abuse in football

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.


Milton_David_web Written by David Milton, partner at BLM

Update – IICSA investigations

The IICSA continues to progress with its investigations. Last week it published the public hearings timetable up until March 2019. A summary of the current status of all hearings in investigations is detailed below (the IICSA continues to update its hearings timetable page here as it schedules more dates).

Investigation Latest Position
The Internet Following the preliminary hearing on 19 September 2017, the first public hearings are scheduled to take place the week commencing 22 January 2018. Evidence in relation to paragraph 2.4 of the published scope of investigation will be heard: “the response of law enforcement agencies to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet“.
Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Public hearings in relation to this case study were held from 9 – 27 October 2017. Evidence from survivors and institutions was heard. The IICSA endeavours to publish its report in relation to this investigation in the new year and before the interim inquiry report is to be published which is sometime in April 2018.
Anglican Public hearings are scheduled to start on 5th March 2018 for 3 weeks. This will focus on abuse within the Diocese of Chichester. There will be a further week of public hearings from 23rd July 2018 which will focus on matters relating to the Peter Ball case study. There is a preliminary hearing on 30th January 2018
Westminster A preliminary hearing in relation to this case study will take place on 31st January 2018. Public hearings will be held from the week commencing 4 March – 25 March 2019.
Roman Catholic Church The hearing in connection with the Benedictine Orders (save for Ealing Abbey) commences on 27th November 2017 and is due to last for 2 weeks

Public hearings will be held the week commencing 12 November 2018 into the Archdiocese of Birmingham case study.

Public hearings will be held the week commencing 4 February 2019 into the Ealing Abbey case study.

Nottinghamshire 3 weeks of hearings are scheduled from 1st October 2018. A preliminary hearing will take place on 31st January 2018.
Children Overseas IICSA’s report into the Child Migration Programmes Case Study is expected sometime before or early in the new year.

Public hearings regarding Children Outside the UK will be held the week commencing 11 February 2019.

Accountability & Reparation Public hearings are scheduled from 26 November – 10 December 2018.
Children in Custody A preliminary hearing will proceed on 1st February 2018 with 2 weeks of public hearings from 9 July 2018.
Lord Janner There have been no formal developments.
Lambeth There have been no formal developments.
Residential Schools There have been no formal developments.
Child Sexual Exploitation by Organised Networks There have been no formal developments.

mwr Written by Miriam Rahamim, solicitor at BLM.

New guidelines on criminal injuries compensation for abuse victims

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has announced new guidelines on compensation for abuse victims.  A key topic in these guidelines is the approach to be taken to the issue of consent.

Last July five charities – Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group wrote to the justice secretary David Lidington stating that the CICA was refusing applications from victims as young as 12, claiming they were ‘consenting’ to abuse, even though the perpetrators of the abuse had been convicted.

The CICA deals with ‘compensation claims from people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the blameless victim of a violent crime in England, Scotland or Wales’.

It has been reported that there are hundreds of victims who have been refused compensation on the basis of arguments about consent, including a Rotherham child sexual abuse victim.

Following the reports, the CICA carried out an internal review on applications for compensation for sexual abuse victims. The findings of the review have prompted the CICA to publish new guidelines stating “even if it appears that the minor expressed consent to the acts in question, it cannot be assumed that this was given because the child wanted to engage in sexual activity as this may actually be a symptom of coercive control. The surrounding circumstances always require to be investigated as these may indicate that the situation was abusive and the consent was not true consent”.

The CICA has confirmed it has new safeguards in place and that all ‘complex’ claims for compensation from victims of sexual abuse will be referred to CICA lawyers. It also suggests that it is improving training for its staff in this area.


Written by Nicola Aspinwall, solicitor at BLM

Vicarious Liability is on the move – again!

The long awaited decision in Natasha Armes (NA) v Nottinghamshire County Council [18.10.2017] UKSC  was handed down today in the Supreme Court by Lord Reed.

The court rejected an argument that the local authority had a non-delegable duty of care but decided (4:1) for the claimant /appellant, Natasha Armes, that the local authority is vicariously liable for physical and sexual abuse suffered by her whilst in foster care and perpetrated by foster carers.

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The long road to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse in the Republic of Ireland

The Commission to inquire into child abuse in the Republic of Ireland published its report (commonly known as The Ryan Report) on the 20 May 2009.

One of the recommendations of that report was that Children First: The National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children should be uniformly and consistently implemented throughout the state in dealing with allegations of abuse. The guidelines assisted people in recognising child abuse and neglect, and in reporting reasonable concerns but it did not amount to mandatory reporting.

Following the publication of the Ryan Report, the Irish Government prepared and published a detailed Implementation Plan in July 2009.

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More than 30,000 reports of child sexual assaults in four years

A recent BBC investigation reveals that thousands of sexual assaults have taken place in schools in the past three years, with over one fifth of the assaults carried out by children on children in so called “peer on peer” abuse.

Almost 30,000 reports of children sexually assaulting other children have been made to the police in the last four years, that is an average 22 a day. This investigation is only the latest in a line of recent reports highlighting the increase of harmful sexual behaviour among children.

The BBC investigation, which was covered on the 5 Live Investigates Show on Sunday the 6 of September, 2017 reveals that more than 5,500 alleged sex crimes in UK schools were reported to police in the last three years. In some cases the victims and suspects were as young as five years old.

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Vicarious liability – an ever moving target

One of the most difficult challenges when responding to claims for damages consequent upon sexual abuse is trying to determine who is potentially liable for payment of claims, provision of care or other rehabilitation services.

It is clear that anyone who abuses another person will bear personal responsibility but they are often not a real target for reparations as they often have limited assets or, as in many non-recent cases, they have died or cannot be located.

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