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STOP PRESS: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Publishes Interim Report

on Thursday, 26 April 2018.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its Interim Report yesterday, setting out the work of the Inquiry and its progress to date.

The report sets out the key themes arising from the Inquiry's work and identifies a general reluctance to accept that child sexual abuse (CSA) has taken place or caused harm, or indeed to discuss it openly and frankly as a principal concern. Senior leaders are called upon to "be more open and honest in recognising failures to protect children from sexual abuse in the past". The Inquiry calls for effective leadership and cross-societal cultural change in dealing with CSA and also highlights issues relating to staff practice and safe recruitment. It points out that these issues are key themes, which have been commonly identified not just by them but by previous investigations into abuse.

Historic failure to take responsibility or attempts to deflect it is criticised as being "irresponsible and understandably offensive" to victims and calls are made for those who have not yet apologised for their role to give such apologies as soon as possible and not only through public statements but directly to those affected. Institutions should improve the way they respond to victims and while this will be considered further by the Inquiry, that should not prevent the review of existing procedures now, to ensure they are appropriate and effective. Victims should be treated with sympathy and understanding and the Inquiry sets an expectation that institutions will take responsibility for their conduct, irrespective of how much time has passed. 

Many victims have reported difficulties accessing records relating to their childhood and further recommendations of wider import than those to whom they are specifically addressed in the report relate to ensuring robust systems for retaining, preserving and facilitating easy access to any remaining records that may contain information about CSA. 

The report sets out 18 new recommendations for change to better protect children from sexual abuse. These include a system to ensure that all professionals who pose a risk of harm to children are barred from working with them across all sectors, the introduction of a professional register of care staff working in children's homes and the implementation of policy for the training and use of chaperones for the treatment of children in healthcare services. The Chair of the Inquiry has stated that she expects each institution to act on the recommendations and, in the interests of openness and transparency, to publish details of the steps they will take in response, including the timetable involved.

Should you have any queries about the Inquiry generally or the implication of the recommendations to your practice, please contact Tabitha Cave on 0117 314 5381.

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