Identifying child sexual abuse especially in an institutional setting is the first and often most important step in protecting children and preventing its re-occurrence.
It is not sufficient just to educate children to recognise behaviours that constitute sexual abuse, and instruct them to tell someone if they are abused. Instead, adults also need to be attuned to signs of harm in children and equipped to identify signs of possible sexual abuse. Adults and the wider community need to better understand the dynamics of sexual abuse and how to recognise grooming tactics, and to notice emotional and behavioural changes in children.
Recent developments across the jurisdictions have highlighted the difficulties faced by all those involved in dealing with abuse allegations. The number and expectations of the different people involved presents significant problems in handling these matters in a professional yet sensitive way.
The IICSA has published details of the salary of Prof Jay and the cost of the Inquiry to date (£14.73m). As expected the salary is lower than that of Dame Goddard. More surprisingly the first year budget of £17.2m was not all spent and the surplus was returned to the Home Office. This surplus may be due to good financial housekeeping or possibly because progress was not made in certain previously anticipated areas. One such area may be the lack of a permanent location for the hearings to proceed or because it has taken longer to reach the current stage and so hearings have not yet been possible.
Prof Jay’s salary will be £185,000pa, just over half of the sum to Dame Goddard and without all the additional costs. The two largest cost elements of the Inquiry to date have been staffing and legal costs. These were followed by Estates and Information Technology. No details have been given of the budget for the next year but it is fair to assume that at least a similar sum will be spent as the case studies and hearings proceed.
Paula Jefferson, Partner
Today the Home Affairs Committee heard oral evidence from the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, and Mark Sedwill, Permanent Secretary, Home Office regarding the work of the Home Secretary. Dame Lowell Goddard who had been invited to attend did not and sent a memo (reported on yesterday) specifying her reasons for her resignation.
As Amber Rudd is due to attend before the Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow and a memo from the former Chair is commented on in the press, the new Chair has made a statement announcing an internal review. However there is no change to terms of reference or the introduction of any new restrictions on the scope of the Inquiry.
Professor Jay has said hat she has initiated a wide-ranging internal review of the Inquiry’s ways of working and they are looking at different approaches to evaluating the information received. To date the Inquiry has received over 500,000 pages of evidence.
The full statement from Professor Jay can be accessed here.
Paula Jefferson, Partner
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016 / 2017 has been revealed on 6 September. Before June 2017, the Scottish Government intends to introduce the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. When making the announcement of the legislative programme upon this, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland said that the Bill “fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.” She added “As the Human Rights Commission has pointed out, the three year limitation rule is not appropriate for child abuse” explaining that, “the reasons for victims not coming forward until later in life are entirely understandable.” She concluded by advising the Scottish Parliament that “This Bill will ensure that the justice system works better for victims of such terrible crimes.”
Written by Frank Hughes, Partner
As we reported on this blog on 28 July 2016, Lady Smith, a Scottish Judge since 2001 and, from 2011, a Scottish Appeal Court Judge, is the new Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Unlike the English and Welsh Inquiry, the present remit of the Scottish Inquiry excludes non-State institutions. Hence, for instance, those alleging abuse in religious settings in the community, in contrast to State-provided care institutions, are not covered at present by the Scottish Inquiry.
Pressure is, though, building to extend the Scottish Inquiry’s scope. Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) was reported, in the 31 August 2016 Herald newspaper, as saying that “we put forward (to the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney) a powerful argument about extending (the scope of the Scottish Inquiry).” He adds, though, that he is “not hopeful”.