The Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) group have today withdrawn its support for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), with reports saying it has lost confidence in the process.
With the Inquiry making real progress following the first hearings, it’s disappointing to see any group with ‘core participant’ status taking the decision to withdraw. As SOIA point out on its website, the Inquiry is a once in a generation opportunity to protect children from future institutional abuse and survivors will play a key part in achieving that.
Following the transition from Dame Lowell Goddard to Professor Jay’s leadership, there has been a review and changes in focus. At recent preliminary hearings consideration was made of the scope of some of the investigations and whether in each situation it is necessary for the Inquiry to make a finding that abuse occurred. This was previously considered in the context of whether or not an allegation was well founded. The Inquiry has now said that it will make findings where a sufficient evidential basis exists. Some victims and survivors may consider that means the Inquiry will not provide the assurance they had perhaps otherwise hoped for of reaching definitive conclusions about what did or did not occur.
The focus of the Inquiry has always been on examining the extent to which public and private institutions in England & Wales have failed to protect children from sexual abuse in the past and to make meaningful recommendations to keep children safer today and in the future. The scale of that task means that it must consider a wide range of matters but with a degree of proportionality which maintains a realistic timescale and cost. It cannot consider each victim or survivor’s individual experience and comment upon them. The Truth Project does however give all victims and survivors the option to tell of what happened to them.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner at BLM