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2.2 Investigations and public hearings

So far, the Inquiry has established 13 investigations to examine the conduct of institutions in England and Wales and to consider whether they have failed in their duty to keep children safe from sexual abuse.

Each investigation is undertaken using a range of methods. These include the use of statutory powers to obtain relevant evidence, such as gathering witness statements and reviewing official records. Issues papers and seminars are used to gather information and views, and to assist in identifying points for further consideration. Investigations conclude with a public hearing and a report that sets out the Inquiry’s findings and any recommendations for change.

Public hearings held by the Inquiry

  • Child migration programmes (a case study in the ‘Children outside the UK’ investigation) (27 February ‒ 10 March 2017 and 10‒21 July 2017)[1]

  • ‘Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale’ investigation (9‒27 October 2017)[2]

  • The English Benedictine Congregation (a case study in the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ investigation) (27 November ‒ 14 December 2017)[3]

  • An introductory hearing on the ‘Internet and child sexual abuse’ investigation (22‒26 January 2018)[4]

  • The Diocese of Chichester (a case study in the ‘Anglican Church’ investigation) (5‒23 March 2018)[5]

Core participants are designated by the Chair if she considers that they have a specific interest in the matters under investigation by the Inquiry. They usually see documents before they are used in a hearing and can suggest lines of enquiry. Core participants can also apply to the Inquiry for funding to cover legal and other costs.

Witnesses are invited by the Inquiry to provide a statement if they have evidence that is relevant to a particular investigation and can help the Inquiry fulfil its Terms of Reference ‒ for example, if they have been failed by, or worked in, an institution under investigation. Witnesses give their evidence in person, unless there is an exceptional circumstance that means they must give evidence anonymously (for example, to protect their identity while the police are investigating the sexual abuse they suffered). Some witnesses may give evidence via video link (for example, if they are infirm or abroad) or can have their evidence read aloud on their behalf.

Providing evidence at a public hearing can be a daunting and demanding experience, whether or not it is done anonymously. For this reason, the Inquiry ensures that emotional support is available to witnesses and core participants both before and after they give evidence. So far, the Inquiry has provided support to 96 witnesses and core participants (excluding support that has been provided during public hearings). The Inquiry is grateful to the witnesses and core participants who have assisted the Inquiry in its work so far.

References

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