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Does the government support for victims of child sexual abuse go far enough?

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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The independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has produced an accountability and reparations report, in which it addresses the various avenues for redress and support which is currently available for the victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The Government responded in April 2020 to those recommendations, although, in our view, the Government does not go far enough to fully support survivors of child sexual abuse.

What is the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse?

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up as a consequence of a number of high-profile and serious instances of non-recent child sexual abuse. The Inquiry was set up in 2014 by the then, Home Secretary, Theresa May.

The Inquiry has conducted investigations and public hearings to understand how sexual abuse of children was perpetrated. Although the enquiry is investigating institutional failures, the stories of the individual victims are important, for the inquiry to complete its objectives.

What are the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and do they go far enough?

It is recommended that the Ministry of Justice should revise the Victim's Code to make clear that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse must be advise by the police that they are entitled to seek compensation and, as part of that recommendation, to be signposted to specialist lawyers.

Although the Government agrees that victims and survivors should be advised about making a claim for compensation, for childhood sexual abuse, the Government does not intend to take any action, suggesting that the Law Society (which represents solicitors) is best placed to assist victims in identifying and instructing a suitable local solicitor.

The Government response is unsatisfactory as whilst the Law Society has a "find a solicitor" scheme, it does not identify solicitors who have the particular skill, knowledge and experience necessary to provide specialist services to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. People wishing to find a specialist solicitor should identify those who are recorded as skilled by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and by the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommends that individuals should be entitled to assistance in completing a criminal injuries compensation claim, such assistance to be provided by independent sexual violence advisors or other suitably trained persons.

The government supports this recommendation but suggest survivors can seek assistance from a customer support team from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. This is not good enough as victims require independent advice; to suggest that the customer support team can assist applicants, may be disingenuous, bearing in mind they work for the organisation that may deny an applicant their compensation. Survivors of abuse are entitled to independent advice.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommends the Government should introduce legislation that facilitates apologies or offers of treatment or other redress to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, that may be responsible for the assault taking place.

Thankfully, the Government recognises the positive impact that an apology can have for victims of child sexual abuse, and the desirability of encouraging institutions to give apologies wherever possible. Therefore, the Government is intending to reflect upon existing legislation and consider whether changes are required to facilitate such apologies and offers of treatment in child sexual abuse cases. This is welcome news.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommends the introduction of a national register of public liability insurance policies to enable survivors of childhood sexual abuse to obtain monetary compensation for the harm they have suffered.

This is important as whilst institutions can often be recognised as being accountable for assaults committed by individuals under their control, some institutions have inadequate funds to meet claims and are not able to identify their public liability insurers at the time of the assaults, to cover the cost of the claims.

Therefore, it is welcome news that the Government has begun discussions with the Association of British Insurers on the feasibility of establishing a public liability register. If a register can be established, this will be welcome news to survivors of non-recent childhood sexual abuse, where it can often be difficult and sometimes impossible, to trace insurance policies to pay out compensation.

How do I make a claim for child abuse compensation and sexual assault compensation?

If you, or a family member, has suffered a sexual assault, whether as a child or adult, you should talk to a lawyer who specialises in this area of work. Our child abuse compensation claims solicitors and sexual assault solicitors can provide advice upon whether you have the prospect of making a successful claim and if so how to succeed.

If you are a victim of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual, and would like advice on how to make a claim for compensation, contact us in confidence today on 0333 323 1631enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or through our online contact form.

We offer a free initial consultation to discuss the circumstances of your case. You will not need to provide any specific details of the abuse and are under no obligation to discuss any painful events. Our experienced abuse solicitors will ensure that you feel safe and will deal with your enquiry with compassion and sensitivity.

The information contained within our Blog Articles is provided as general information only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice or seek to be an exhaustive statement of the law and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. For further details, please see our terms of use policy.