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Government Response to IICSA

on Thursday, 29 June 2023.

The Government has now published its long-awaited response to the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Although the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman KC, spoke positively of supporting the Inquiry and its work and of adopting all but one of its recommendations, the reality is rather more nuanced. The Government has supported the Inquiry's aims and aspirations, rather than embrace its recommendations as they were articulated. Some of the specifics appear to have been snubbed or delayed and Alexis Jay, the Chair of the Inquiry, has been scathing in her criticism of the Government's failure to unequivocally support its carefully-considered proposals for reform.

Background to the Report

We have written in previous editions about the findings of the Inquiry, in particular about the Residential schools investigation report (1 March 2022) and its final report (20 October 2022), but until now, those reports constituted recommendations only and we had little knowledge of whether and if so how the Inquiry's many recommendations for reform would be implemented.

On 21 May, Suella Braverman KC published the Government's detailed report with a helpful list of the Inquiry's recommendations and its headline responses.

Mandatory Reporting

The recommendation which received the most support from victim groups was that for mandatory reporting - criminalising a failure to report child sexual abuse to police or local authorities.

The Inquiry proposed that this duty should apply to any person working in 'regulated activity', along with any person working in a position of trust and all police officers; that child sexual abuse is defined with reference to the offences set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (which includes any form of unlawful touching) and that a failure to report should attract criminal sanctions if a mandated reporter fails to report child sexual abuse where they receive a disclosure or witness a child being abused.

While many employers may already expect a member of staff to report abuse or concerns and, indeed, may document this in policies or procedures and/or contracts, the change which is proposed is to make it a statutory requirement and one which has criminal sanctions for breach.

The Government say they support this and it is now the subject of a call for evidence (a precursor to a consultation), open until 14 August, in which they seek views on whether the criminal sanctions should apply to individuals or organisations and whether they should be limited to child sexual abuse or apply more broadly, for example to child welfare.

The call for evidence will be followed by a full public consultation later this year on a shortlist of developed policy options.

Other Recommendations

We expect further calls for evidence about the proposed compensation scheme for victims of child sexual abuse later this year.

For more information on the report or on safeguarding generally, please contact Tabitha Cave, in our Education team on 07747 075 825, or complete the form below.

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