Lord Goddard Inquiry

Children have been abused and unprotected for far too long. It has only been in our lifetime that child abuse has been publicly acknowledged and, most importantly, children have been listened to.

The horrific behaviour of Jimmy Savile, brought into the public domain in late 2012, together with, arguably, the complicit behaviour of media institutions, caused a public outcry. However, it is not just individuals in the public eye that have been brought to light, but others and national bodies conscious failure to proactively address cries of help. There has been a demand for answers from government and non-governmental organisations.

The Government responded positively, pronouncing an inquiry to consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

After two false starts, namely the appointment and resignations of Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf, the Home Secretary,Theresa May MP, successfully appointed Dame Lowell Goddard QC as the Chair to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICA”) in February 2015.

As to the purpose and scope of the work to be conducted by the inquiry, the Terms of Reference are clear.

Purpose

  1. To consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation; to consider the extent to which those failings have since been addressed; to identify further action needed to address any failings identified; to consider the steps which it is necessary for State and non-State institutions to take in order to protect children from such abuse in future; and to publish a report with recommendations.
  2. In doing so to:
    • Consider all the information which is available from the various published and unpublished reviews, court cases, and investigations which have so far concluded;
    • Consider the experience of survivors of child sexual abuse; providing opportunities for them to bear witness to the Inquiry, having regard to the need to provide appropriate support in doing so;
    • Consider whether State and non-State institutions failed to identify such abuse and/or whether there was otherwise an inappropriate institutional response to allegations of child sexual abuse and/or whether there were ineffective child protection procedures in place;
    • Advise on any further action needed to address any institutional protection gaps within current child protection systems on the basis of the findings and lessons learnt from this inquiry;
    • Disclose, where appropriate and in line with security and data protection protocols, any documents which were considered as part of the inquiry;
    • Liaise with ongoing inquiries, including those currently being conducted in Northern Ireland and Scotland, with a view to (a) ensuring that relevant information is shared, and (b) identifying any State or non-State institutions with child protection obligations that currently fall outside the scope of the present Inquiry and those being conducted in the devolved jurisdictions;
    • Produce regular reports, and an interim report by the end of 2018; and
    • Conduct the work of the Inquiry in transparent a manner as possible, consistent with the effective investigation of the matters falling within the terms of reference, and having regard to all the relevant duties of confidentiality.

Scope

  1. State and non-State institutions. Such institutions will, for example, include:
    • Government departments, the Cabinet Office, Parliament and Ministers;
    • Police, prosecuting authorities, schools including private and state-funded boarding and day schools, specialist education (such as music tuition), Local Authorities (including care homes and children’s services), health services, and prisons/secure estates;
    • Churches and other religious denominations and organisations;
    • Political Parties; and
    • The Armed Services.
  2. The Inquiry will cover England and Wales. Should the Inquiry identify any material relating to the devolved administrations, it will be passed to the relevant authorities;
  3. The Inquiry will not address allegations relating to events in the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies. However, any such allegations received by the Inquiry will be referred to the relevant law enforcement bodies in those jurisdictions;
  4. For the purposes of this Inquiry “child” means anyone under the age of 18. However, the panel will consider abuse of individuals over the age of 18, if that abuse started when the individual was a minor.

Principles

  1. The Inquiry will have full access to all the material it seeks.
  2. Any allegation of child abuse received by the Inquiry will be referred to the Police;
  3. All personal and sensitive information will be appropriately protected; and will be made available only to those who need to see it; and
  4. It is not part of the Inquiry’s function to determine civil or criminal liability of named individuals or organisations. This should not, however, inhibit the Inquiry from reaching findings of fact relevant to its terms of reference.

The Projects

The Chair is supported by a panel of 4 and a legal team, as well as contributions from victims and survivors.     Indeed, the inquiry will be comprehensive, inclusive and thorough. To achieve these objectives the IICA will have three core projects, the Research Project, the Truth Project and the Public Hearings Project. All these projects are important but it is likely the Truth and Public Hearings will be of most concern to the victims of child sexual abuse. The Public Hearings will start in 2016. The Truth Project will allow survivors to contribute to the work of the IICA, anonymously. These Truth hearings begun in October 2015.

Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel

In Autumn 2015 the Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel (VSCP) were appointed and published theTerms of Reference.

The role of the Inquiry is:

“To consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation; to consider the extent to which those failings have since been addressed; to identify further action needed to address any failings identified; to consider the steps which it is necessary for State and non-State institutions to take in order to protect children from such abuse in future; and to publish a report with recommendations.”

Key Dates

07.07.2014
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”) announced by Theresa May, MP

08.07.2014
Baroness Butler-Sloss appointed

14.07.2014
Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned

05.09.2014
Fiona Woolf appointed

31.10.2014
Fiona Woolf resigned

04.02.2015
Dame Lowell Goddard QC appointed

29.04.2015
IICSA announce it will investigate issues surrounding Lord Greville Janner

23.06.2015
IICSA provides guidance on the destruction of documents

09.07.2015
Inquiry opens

13.07.2015
Costs of Inquiry announced

04.08.2015
Procurement process announced for running helpline for victims and survivors

01.10.2015
Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel (VSCP) announce Terms of Reference

15.10.2015
Information submitted between 14 September and 2 October through the online form on the “Share your experience” page of the website, was instantly and permanently deleted.

16.10.2015
Peter McKelvie resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse's Victims' and Survivors Consultative Panel.