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Children in custodial institutions

An inquiry into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation while in custodial institutions. (This investigation is now complete.)

Children are particularly vulnerable when placed in a closed institution where access to the outside world is necessarily restricted and those in authority are distrusted by the children themselves. These children are among the most vulnerable in society, the majority having had unhappy and disrupted childhoods. Many have become involved in regular offending, some of it of a violent or sexual nature. However, very little is known about their experiences or the extent to which institutions in England and Wales have discharged their duty of care to protect them from sexual abuse.

This investigation focussed on recent and current issues relating to the sexual abuse of children in custody. Specifically, the Inquiry considered the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, recent sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions, and the adequacy of current institutional and systemic protections of children in those institutions from sexual abuse. For the purposes of this investigation, ‘recent’ was considered to mean sexual abuse which allegedly occurred on or after 1 January 2009.

Please note: 

In December 2019, the Inquiry published a Determination in respect of the case study concerning Medomsley Youth Detention Centre, which was initially part of this investigation.

The Chair subsequently considered submissions made in response and concluded that the Inquiry would not investigate Medomsley for a range of reasons.

The full reasons for discontinuing this case study are set out in the Determination, along with the background to the investigation.

Next Steps:

This investigation has now finished. The public hearing into this investigation concluded in July 2018. A report was published in February 2019 and can be found here. Responses to recommendations made in this report can be found here.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience with the Truth Project.

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