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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Background

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (hereafter 'IICSA' or 'the Inquiry') was established in March 2015 as a full and wide-ranging public inquiry into non-recent child sexual abuse.

Chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, a child protection expert with more than 30 years' experience, the Inquiry is looking at the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. It looks within institutional bodies, both state and non-state, i.e. schools, hospitals, churches, local authorities, police, media, armed forces.

The Inquiry was set up “because of the growing evidence of organised child sexual abuse, conducted over many years, and serious allegations about the failure of some of our most important institutions to protect children from this disgusting crime”. It estimates one child in every 20 has been sexually abused (institutional and non-institutional).

The Inquiry (which is a statutory inquiry with wide-ranging powers) covers England and Wales only. The Scottish government is conducting a separate inquiry which commenced in October 2015 while the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland began in June 2015.

Purpose

The Inquiry will be "comprehensive, inclusive and thorough", and will:

  1. Consider the extent to which institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
  2. Look at how those failings have since been addressed.
  3. Identify further action needed to address any failings identified.
  4. Consider the steps needed in order to protect children from future abuse.
  5. Publish a report with recommendations.

Workstreams

IICSA currently has 13 investigations:

  1. Children in the care of Lambeth Council.
  2. Children in the care of Nottinghamshire councils.
  3. Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Council.
  4. Child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church.
  5. Child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church (the first case study being the English Benedictine congregation).
  6. The sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions.
  7. Child sexual abuse in residential schools.
  8. The internet and child sexual abuse.
  9. Child exploitation by organised networks.
  10. The protection of children outside the United Kingdom.
  11. Accountability and reparations for victims and survivors.
  12. Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster.
  13. Institutional responses to allegations concerning Lord Janner.

Reports published to date by the Inquiry can be downloaded from the IICSA website, including its report into the Ampleforth and Downside hearings, as part of its investigation into the Roman Catholic Church.

The Inquiry

The Independent Schools Council welcomes and supports the important work being carried out by the Inquiry, including notifying and sharing relevant information and materials with schools.

Hearings related to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in residential schools have yet to take place, but will address residential schools in both the state and independent sector.

The independent school sector condemns all acts of child sexual abuse and many steps have been taken to make schools the safest places possible.

For many years now, independent schools have played a key and active part in developing the present improved and stricter regulatory regime, including detailed safeguarding procedures and regular inspection.

The courage shown by victims and survivors who have come forward should not be underestimated. Their evidence has been critical in helping deal with abuse, developing stronger safeguarding measures and creating an environment in which other victims and survivors have the confidence and support to speak up.

Mandatory reporting

Representatives from the ISC attended the Inquiry’s recent seminar on mandatory reporting (September 2018).

The ISC supports any form of mandatory reporting that would further safeguard children and improve child protection procedures.

Safeguarding compliance is a priority matter and if a school fails to demonstrate that it is rectifying safeguarding failings identified by regulators, that school may expect to be removed from association and hence ISC membership.

Support for survivors

The Inquiry provides support for victims and survivors affected by any aspect of its work and signposts organisations that offer specialist support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. This information can be found on the IICSA website.