The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published its final report. The Inquiry examined the responses of a broad range of institutions and organisations to allegations of child sexual abuse, holding 325 days of public hearings and processing over two million pages of evidence from 725 witnesses.
The Truth Project, which concluded in October 2021, gave more than 6,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse an opportunity to share their experiences with the Inquiry and make suggestions for change.
The 458-page final report makes 20 concluding recommendations about a range of issues including Mandatory Reporting, Redress for victims and survivors, a Cabinet Minister for Children, the introduction of new Child Protection Authorities for England and Wales with investigative powers, and significant changes to the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Much of the report focuses on unsafe and unhealthy cultures and behaviours which have valued reputation over people, as the report states “the Church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.”
Thirtyone:eight welcomes the Inquiry’s final recommendations to help protect children from sexual abuse. This includes mandatory reporting which would apply to those undertaking regulated activity and those in positions of trust (which includes clergy).
While we recognise the complexity and acknowledge the significant challenges that lie ahead in implementing change, we believe that every institution working with children needs to learn from past failings and do what is necessary to raise their safeguarding standards.
The breadth and complexity of the recommendations may appear daunting, especially for smaller organisations to consider, which is why Thirtyone:eight remains committed in our mission to make appropriate levels of support and guidance available to all.
Our overriding concern is for the safety, protection, and wellbeing of children. We recognise the distress caused to victims and survivors and thank them for courageously coming forward to the Inquiry and sharing their experiences.
We’d also like to thank the Inquiry for all their work.
Justin Humphreys, Joint CEO at Thirtyone:eight, said, “The final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse needs to be a watershed moment in child protection. Considering what has come out of this extensive report spanning seven years, and hundreds of people coming forward with evidence of child sexual abuse, we cannot continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach to protecting children and all vulnerable people.
For too long, children have been failed by inadequate measures to safeguard their wellbeing. Key findings from the Inquiry have revealed toxic cultures, priority given to institutional reputation over child protection, inconsistent reporting and response to abuse, and a failure to listen to children. This has to change. We agree with the report when it says, ‘Addressing the past and present concerns requires prompt and effective action.’ Thirtyone:eight joins everyone involved in this effort to prevent child sexual abuse and bring healing to victims and survivors of abuse.
We believe that the Church is uniquely placed, not just in terms of its experience of and vulnerability to these issues, but also the opportunity it has to be part of the answer. At Thirtyone:eight we shall be working through the recommendations over the next months in detail so that we can continue to ensure all our members have the tools they need to create places that are safer for all.”