The Chairwoman of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has expressed disappointment in the government’s handling of the inquiry’s recommendations, stating that victims have been left feeling neglected.
Professor Alexis Jay, who concluded the inquiry into the failure of institutions to safeguard children in care from sexual abuse and exploitation one year ago, noted that while the government accepted the need for action on 19 of the 20 recommendations in May, little progress has been seen since.
In an interview with the BBC, she shared her frustration over the lack of significant action taken by the government, leaving her “hugely disappointed”. She said:
“They need to just get on and do it. I and so many others, including victims, have spent eight years of our lives trying to ensure that children will be made safer in this country and what could be more important than that?
This just isn’t good enough. I would like all political parties to put in their manifestos a clear commitment to deliver the recommendations of my public inquiry final report.”
Prof. Jay dedicated eight years to the inquiry, which incurred a cost of £188 million and examined various settings, including schools, churches, as well as abuse by organised crime and online platforms. A significant focus of the inquiry centred on councils in Nottinghamshire, where approximately 350 victims of abuse in local children’s homes and foster care shared their accounts spanning five decades. Thousands of other victims from across the UK also contributed to IICSA’s “Truth Project.”
The final report, published on October 20th the previous year, revealed common themes across various institutions, such as prioritising reputation over child protection and a lack of appropriate policies and procedures.
In response, the Home Secretary announced consultations on a redress scheme for victims and a proposed “mandatory reporting” law, which would legally obligate responsible adults to report child sex abuse or face prosecution.
Prof. Jay criticized the government’s response as “weak” and “apparently disingenuous.” She pointed out that some recommendations, though seemingly accepted, had not been effectively implemented.
A Home Office spokesperson maintained the government’s commitment to combating child sexual abuse, promising to take all necessary measures to protect children, support victims, and aid in their recovery. The spokesperson said:
“The government is continuing to drive forward commitments made in our response to the independent inquiry. This includes making good progress on mandatory reporting, recently concluding the call for evidence, and now working through next steps.
We will continue to engage with stakeholders, victims and survivors to ensure we are doing all we can to tackle this horrific crime.”