Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme – a local authority Redress Scheme

On 18 December 2017, Lambeth Council (“the Council”) approved the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme (“the Scheme”) to compensate survivors of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Lambeth Children’s Homes and Shirley Oaks Primary School (“Lambeth Institutions”)from the 1930s to the 1990s.

The Scheme will commence this month with first payments anticipated to be made in March 2018. It is estimated that there are about 3,000 claims with an expected cost of £100 million. Funding is being provided through the public loan works board. Complex claims, approximately 5-10%, will be considered outside of the Scheme costing an extra £40 million.

The Council developed the Scheme with the advice and input of specialist lawyers and has said that drafting the Scheme was a difficult task as there was no precedent to follow, the Scheme being the first of its kind in England. However the Council consider one of the advantages of the Scheme is that  action is being taken now rather than  waiting for the conclusion of IICSA’s investigation into child sexual abuse within Lambeth.

Specifics of the Scheme:

  • Duration – two years (January 2018-January 2020)
  • Administered by the Council
  • Applicants are to use the Scheme’s Application Form
  • No survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court, applicants will receive a formal apology from the Council and appropriate counselling services
  • The Council will provide applicants with specialist advice and assistance for housing, benefits, further education and employment
  • Average damages unknown but a maximum award of £125,000
  • Compensation payments are based on a tariff, a points based system in line with the common law. Payment should fairly reflect the severity of the abuse as well as the hurt, fear and humiliation experienced and the lifetime consequences caused by the abuse
  • Funders of the Scheme are the Council via public loans from Government
  • Foster care claims to be included within the Scheme where former residents of Lambeth Institutions were directly placed into foster care and abused by foster carers
  • Stepped “Harm’s Way Payment” linked to time spent in a Lambeth Institution to be paid to eligible applicants of up to £10,000 where they were a resident at a Lambeth Institution and lived in a harsh environment or a payment of £10,000 where they were resident at a Lambeth Specialist Unit. A harsh environment is defined as living in an environment which caused the applicant to fear or apprehend they would be subject to immediate physical abuse and mistreatment, sexual abuse, neglect or cruelty. An applicant must be able to demonstrate that the experience interfered with their ability to experience happiness and fulfilment during the qualifying period of their childhood. However where there has been sexual abuse then written evidence in support of the application will not be required and the award will be £10,000 irrespective of time spent in the Institution.
  • All applicants will receive independent legal advice of their choice paid for by the Council and have the right to appeal should they disagree with a decision made. The Council will pay applicants reasonable legal fees but cannot stop lawyers from deducting from the applicants’ compensation although the Council will encourage them not to do so.
  • Appeals to be considered by a multidisciplinary appeals panel
  • Where necessary psychiatric evidence can be obtained for an applicant and the Scheme includes provisions regarding instructions to experts
  • If an eligible applicant is deceased the Scheme allows for a personal representative to apply on behalf of the deceased’s estate for a compensation payment however Harm’s Way Payments are not permitted in this category
  • Any previous or on-going civil claims will be taken into consideration by the Council. If previous compensation payments have been made these will be considered an interim payment and considered when payments under the Scheme are calculated
  • Any previous compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for the same injuries by the same perpetrator relating to the same allegations under the Scheme will be repaid by the applicant to the CICA.

The Council had hoped to develop the Scheme with the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) who have been vocal in drawing attention to the non-recent abuse that occurred in Lambeth. However SOSA do not endorse the final Scheme as they consider a number of the vital concerns they raised during consultation have not been adopted.

SOSA’s criticisms include:

  • Lack of vital ingredients ensuring independence – as the Scheme is run and administered by the council
  • No provision for disclosure – no obligation on the council to disclose to survivors participating in the Scheme the information or files held about them;
  • Appeal – no opportunity for oral representations.

Striking the right balance when developing a scheme is difficult as there are multiple complex factors to consider and if not adequately planned schemes could fail before they come into operation or be redundant if survivors interested in participating do not engage.

It will be interesting to see how successful Lambeth’s Scheme will be and whether lessons will continue to be learned by both public and private institutions in the future when drafting their own schemes and by those engaging with them.

Other jurisdictions have employed redress schemes post their national inquiries, as in Canada, Ireland, Jersey and Australia. These examples are likely to influence the IICSA when it makes its own recommendations for redress in the future.

MIRIAM Written by Miriam Rahamim, solicitor at BLM

Review – Volume 15: Contemporary detention environments

Chapter 15 of the Royal Commission (RC) final report focuses on the risk of child sexual abuse in detention environments since 1990, as well as the responses of governments and institutions to the abuse. In particular it considers youth detention and immigration detention and recognises that children are generally safer in community settings than in closed detention.  It also makes 15 recommendations to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring in detention environments and, where it does occur, to help ensure effective responses.

Lawful detention and detention-like environments include physically ‘closed’ and community-based detention environments, and otherwise ‘open’ institutions in which children are subjected to restrictive practices, such as physical restraint.

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Royal Commission recommendations for advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment services

Volume 9 of the Final Report of the Royal Commission (RC) examines what the commission has learned about the advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment service needs of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts, and outlines recommendations for improving service systems to better respond to those needs and assist survivors towards recovery.

There is a continuing need and demand for advocacy and support, and therapeutic treatment services. However there are barriers to help-seeking and effective service responses and it is noted that inadequate service responses can re-traumatise survivors of child sexual abuse. The Final Report seeks national leadership to reduce stigma, promote help-seeking and support good practice. To these ends, there are nine recommendations, many of which require additional Australian government, state or territorial government funding:

  1. Dedicated community support services.
  2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches.
  3. Support services for victims and survivors who are disabled.
  4. A legal advice and referral service for victims and survivors.
  5. A national website and helpline as a gateway to accessible advice and information on childhood sexual abuse.
  6. Existing sexual assault service gaps to be addressed.
  7. Primary Health Networks to facilitate joined up, collaborative care and support services.
  8. Government, state and territorial government agencies to ensure relevant policy frameworks and strategies recognise the needs of victims and survivors and the benefits of implementing trauma-informed approaches.
  9. A national centre to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment.

Whilst some of these are jurisdiction specific many are likely to be similarly recommended by the IICSA and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

As ever the potential block on ensuring these recommendations are actioned will be the availability of government funding.

Hughes_Frank Written by Frank Hughes, partner at BLM

The current state of play – the IICSA Research and Analysis Project – Part two

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.

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The current state of play – the IICSA Research and Analysis Project – part one

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.

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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.

IICSA considers the health sector

As part of its research programme the IICSA is considering abuse within the health sector. Whilst none of the current investigations focus on this sector it remains a possibility that a future investigation will do so. To shape knowledge of abuse within this sector, two days of seminars will be held on 26 and 27 September at which a variety of issues will be discussed. The seminars will be available to watch live on the Inquiry’s website and then be available for subsequent review.

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