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Inquiry publishes Accountability and Reparations report

19 September 2019

The Inquiry has today (September 19) published its report on the Accountability and Reparations investigation, which focuses on the aftermath of child sexual abuse and the legal process of claiming compensation.

The report finds that neither the criminal or civil justice system is able to effectively deliver the redress that victims and survivors seek, with many finding the processes baffling, frustrating, hostile and futile.

During 15 days of public hearings, the Inquiry heard from 40 witnesses including insurance brokers, lawyers, police officers and survivors.

While some survivors said no amount of money could make up for what they had been through, others wanted financial compensation to recognise the abuse and to compensate for lost education or unfulfilled careers.

Many simply sought acknowledgement or an apology from the institution where the abuse took place, while others spoke of having their “day in court”.

The investigation considered five key case studies from the 1960s to the present day: North Wales children’s homes; Forde Park school in Devon; St Leonard’s children’s home in London; St Aidan’s and St Vincent’s children’s homes in Cheshire and Merseyside and Stanhope Castle school in County Durham.

Is there really any point carrying on? It's embarrassing, and it was like reliving again everything that had gone on. - (Witness AR-21, describing their experience in court, Executive Summary)

Survivors of these institutions said the civil process was emotionally challenging and compounded the trauma they had already suffered as children.

Many became embroiled in litigation with insurers which spanned decades or felt they were treated unfairly in court.

Some successfully proved their case on the facts but were ultimately turned down due to the law of limitation, which puts a time limit on historical claims.

This was not enough (money) for what I had been through, but by this point in my life I had had enough of fighting and just wanted to bring matters to an end. - (Witness AR-24, Page 54)

It also emerged that criminal compensation orders are very rarely used in child sexual abuse cases, with survivors often completely unaware of their existence.

Meanwhile, many witnesses said they struggled to access the right support, including advocacy or health services, during the often traumatic experience of seeking redress.

This report makes seven recommendations to help improve redress processes, including increased signposting of criminal and civil compensation and a national register of public liability insurance policies.

Professor Alexis Jay OBE, Chair of the Inquiry, said:

“For victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, the suffering does not stop when the abuse ends. In our investigation we found that the criminal and civil court proceedings for redress can be frustrating, hostile and ultimately futile.

“Many are left retraumatised and deeply unsatisfied with the often lengthy and confusing litigation. Equally concerning is the lack of clear signposting for the compensation and support which survivors could be entitled to.

“The Panel and I hope this report and its recommendations can help make seeking redress a less complex and distressing process for extremely vulnerable people.”

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