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What is an Inquiry?

Inquiries may be set up for one or more reasons, for example to find out about the cause of a major disaster, accident or event involving significant damage or loss of life. Inquiries make recommendations about how to learn lessons from such events and investigate serious allegations of general public concern which require thorough impartial investigation, and for which ordinary civil or criminal proceedings may not be adequate or appropriate.

The Inquiry team consists of the Chair, Professor Alexis Jay OBE, supported by the Panel; the legal team including the Counsel to the Inquiry and Solicitor to the Inquiry; and the Secretary to the Inquiry and support staff.  

Inquiries are bound by their Terms of Reference and normally have a government sponsor department. The Inquiry was set up by the Home Secretary and so our sponsoring department is the Home Office.  

Full details of how Inquiries work can be found in the cabinet office guidance document on the website.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up after some serious high profile instances of non-recent child sexual abuse and because the government had very grave concerns that some organisations were failing and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse.

Our remit is wide ranging, but as a statutory inquiry we have unique authority to compel both witnesses and any material we feel is necessary in order to investigate where institutions have let children down in the past.

Through investigations and public hearings we have examined what went wrong and why. Our findings and the evidence we have gathered inform our recommendations to help better protect children in the future.

In identifying what must be done differently we are building the case for change and improvement in how institutions must protect children.

Our ambitious research and analysis programme has filled gaps in knowledge about child sexual abuse and make sure our recommendations are informed by the latest learning.

The Truth Project has offered opportunities for victims and survivors to share their experiences and be respectfully heard and acknowledged. Listening to victims and survivors has helped us to better understand the long term impact of abuse, and contribute to recommendations about support needs.

Victims and survivors

Although our investigations have focused on institutional failures, rather than individual cases of sexual abuse, the experiences of victims and survivors have been central to our task. We cannot begin to understand the patterns of institutional failures without hearing from those who suffered as a consequence of those failures. Thousands of victims and survivors have assisted the Inquiry in its work by sharing their experience of sexual abuse. Read more about how we work and sharing your experience.

Independent from government, focused on England and Wales

The Inquiry is an independent statutory inquiry and covers England and Wales. Being independent means the Inquiry is not part of government and is not run by a government department. Being statutory means the Inquiry was set up under the Inquiries Act 2005 and has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

IICSA launch

Chair and Panel

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