Government announces Redress Scheme for child sexual abuse survivors

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29 June, 2023

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John Myles
Partner

A redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse is to be launched in England, to "recognise the trauma victims have suffered", the Government announced in late May. The scheme arises out of one of the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The Inquiry published 19 reports on 15 investigations covering a wide range of institutions. It published its final report in October 2022, which included the voices of over 6,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The inquiry revealed failings by schools, local authorities and other institutions to protect and safeguard the children in their care. The redress scheme will acknowledge the "institutional failures that allowed children to suffer at the hands of despicable predators", said the Home Office. There is to be "close consultation" with victims' groups and charities as it develops the scheme, including asking "who the scheme should support, how we can best help them and how non-state institutions should be involved".

Although it is yet to be seen how the scheme will operate and dovetail in with civil damages claims I anticipate this will be welcomed across the spectrum of all organisations involved in caring for children, and in the wider community. Perhaps slightly more controversial however, is the news that the Government is also to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in England, which will make it a legal requirement for those who work with young people to speak out if they suspect a child is being sexually abused or exploited. A 12-week public call for evidence was launched on 22 May, asking how this should be implemented.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman commented: "Thanks to the brave testimony of thousands of courageous victims, this inquiry uncovered a dark and disturbing truth - that adults often turned a blind eye to the serious sexual abuse of the children under their care. No apology or compensation can turn the clock back on the harrowing abuse these victims suffered, but it is important survivors have that suffering recognised and acknowledged. That is what the compensation scheme will deliver. By bringing in mandatory reporting for adults working with children, we are shining a light on a crime which has for too long been hidden and silent. Today we are bringing this crime out of the shadows and saying 'no more'. Perpetrators - you will have nowhere to hide."

Forbes Comment:

No one could reasonably argue with the motivation behind such a policy. It will be interesting to see how it works out in practice. In my experience of dealing with child sexual abuse cases it is more often the failure on the part of the authorities to act following a report from a concerned professional, rather than the lack of reporting of the concerns by professionals in the field, that is the problem. However, if the new legal requirement leads to any measurable increase in action being taken to prevent abuse it will be worthwhile.

For more information contact John Myles in our Insurance department via email or phone on 01254 222432. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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