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Home Breaking A seven-year inquiry into institutional failings in England and Wales concluded that laws requiring people in positions of trust to report child sexual abuse and a national compensation scheme for victims should be implemented

A seven-year inquiry into institutional failings in England and Wales concluded that laws requiring people in positions of trust to report child sexual abuse and a national compensation scheme for victims should be implemented

As its final report was released on Thursday, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) described child sexual abuse as a “epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake.” Among a slew of broad recommendations, the IICSA called for the establishment of a “national redress scheme” to compensate victims “let down by the state and non-state institutions in the past.” It stated that the UK government should create a cabinet-level position for a minister for children and that the Welsh government should ensure that there is cabinet-level responsibility for children. Meanwhile, the report recommends establishing a Child Protection Authority (CPA) to “secure a much stronger focus on the complex work of child protection in the relevant institutions and statutory agencies.” Within minutes, this was exploited: Child sexual abuse on the internet is at an all-time high. The £186.6 million inquiry, launched in 2015, examined 15 areas of institutional responses to child sexual abuse, including investigations into abuse in Westminster and the church, and over 7,000 victims and survivors participated. During the 325 days of public hearings, 725 witnesses testified, 2.5 million pages of evidence were processed, and scores of reports were published, with 87 recommendations already made as a result. Six of the inquiry’s previous recommendations were reissued in the final report because they had not been “properly addressed or acted upon by those to whom they were directed.” The overall findings included 14 additional proposals, and the IICSA stated that it expects the UK and Welsh governments, as well as other institutions mentioned, to act “promptly” and report back on the steps they have taken within six months of the final report’s publication. Scrutinizing findings on the Church of England’s investigation into abuse allegations concluded that the King, who was then the Prince of Wales, was “misguided” in his support for shamed clergyman Peter Ball, who was cautioned for gross indecency in 1992. “For too long, child sexual abuse has been considered a problem of the past, despite lifelong consequences for its young victims,” said Professor Alexis Jay, chairwoman of the inquiry. “Across our investigations… we heard time and time again how allegations of abuse were ignored, victims were blamed, and institutions prioritised their reputations over the protection of children,” says the report. “As a society, we simply cannot file it away and consider it a historical aberration when so much of what we learned suggests it is an ever-growing problem, exacerbated by the current and future threat of the internet.” I strongly urge the UK government, the Welsh government, and all other relevant institutions to put the inquiry’s recommendations into action as soon as possible. Unless we are willing to accept a world in which our children, and their children, are always in danger of becoming victims of this terrible crime, action must be taken immediately.” According to the 2019 Office for National Statistics (ONS) crime survey, there are 3.1 million victims of child sexual abuse in England and Wales, accounting for 7.5% of the population aged 18 to 75. According to the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, there will be an estimated 500,000 victims of child sexual abuse in 2020/21.

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