The Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has today announced the first phase of investigations into the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. Hon. Lowell Goddard DNZM announced the Inquiry’s first 12 investigations which will begin immediately and provided a statement on the work of the Inquiry to date.
In her statement the Chair said:
“I am pleased to launch the Public Hearings Project by announcing the start of the Inquiry’s investigative work. Twelve investigations are proposed for this first phase. They will all begin with immediate effect and most, if not all, will culminate in public hearings. They represent the first phase of the inquiry’s investigations and are by no means the total of the work we intend to conduct; further investigations will be announced as the Inquiry progresses.
“By adopting both an institution-specific and a thematic approach, we will ensure that the Inquiry reaches its conclusions on as broad an evidence base as possible. We will not be limited to considering the particular institution that is the focus of the investigation, but will address the range of institutional responsibility for child protection.
“There is no doubt that the task we have set ourselves in the first phase is ambitious. To run 12 investigations in parallel represents an organisational challenge that is unprecedented in a public inquiry in the UK. We are determined to succeed and expect full cooperation of all institutions and individuals who can assist us in our work.”
The 12 investigations are:
The Inquiry website has been updated with documents providing more detail of the scope and focus of each of the 12 investigations. Procedural timetables for each investigation will be published early in the New Year.
Commenting on the procedure for the investigations, the Chair said:
“It is impossible to put a timescale on the completion of all of this work, but it is reasonable to assume that while some of the investigations may be completed within 18 months, others may take several years to conclude. In some cases, overlapping criminal proceedings may cause substantial delay to the progress of individual investigations. Nonetheless, in my Opening Statement I committed to completing the work of the Inquiry within five years and my current assessment is that that timeframe, whilst ambitious, is achievable.”
The Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to the Inquiry said:
“Too many victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have suffered in silence. These investigations will give public voice to that suffering and bring greater understanding of why so many horrific crimes went unreported and undetected for so long. They will enable the Inquiry to make proposals for reforms that will better protect children in the future and improve the support and reparation available to victims and survivors.
“We welcome the progress of the Truth Project element of the Inquiry, enabling victims and survivors through their personal accounts to contribute to the Inquiry’s work. We encourage anyone who is a victim or survivor of child sexual abuse and who wants to share their experience to contact the inquiry.”
The investigations fall into two categories; institution-specific and thematic. Taken together they will cut across the five workstreams of the Inquiry: