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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of the Nottinghamshire Councils Investigation Report

A.4: Methodology

17. The methodology adopted by the Inquiry is set out in Annex 1. Core participant status was granted under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 to 96 core participants, including 88 complainants who alleged they were sexually abused whilst in the care of the Councils.

18. The overarching issues considered in this investigation derived from the scope of the investigation set by the Inquiry[1] and the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry set by the Home Secretary.[2] These were to:

(a) establish the nature and extent of allegations of sexual abuse of children in the care of the Councils and barriers to the disclosure of such abuse;

(b) analyse the institutional responses to allegations and how these have changed, with a particular focus on our case studies;

(c) reach conclusions as to what happened, holding institutions to account for past and current failings; and

(d) make recommendations as to what can improve the situation in the future.

19. After three preliminary hearings, public hearings were held over 15 days in October 2018, including seven days of hearings in Nottingham.

20. At the public hearings, we heard accounts from 12 complainants about their experiences as children who had been sexually abused in care.[3] An additional 71 complainant core participants provided written evidence of their experiences, with parts of each read into the record during the public hearings.[4]

21. Evidence was provided by institutional witnesses about a range of factual matters. These included: broad questions about the level of managerial scrutiny of residential homes and foster care; how the Councils conducted investigations into staff and foster carers accused of sexual abuse; whether they followed through on what the investigations revealed; and, when they did commission internal reports, how effective the Councils were in carrying out recommendations intended to protect children. Other issues included why children found it so difficult to disclose sexual abuse, what happened when they did disclose and the individual experiences of adults disclosing childhood abuse.

22. Various institutions, including the Councils, Nottinghamshire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Ofsted and the Department for Education, also provided corporate statements and documents.

23. The Inquiry commissioned a report from Professor Simon Hackett, an expert on harmful sexual behaviour between children. He is Professor of Child Abuse and Neglect at Durham University and, over the course of the last 20 years, has undertaken a series of research studies and written a variety of articles and books on harmful sexual behaviour. Professor Hackett was asked to provide his opinion on a number of topics, including the developing understanding of harmful sexual behaviour between children, the evolving response to the issue and the barriers to disclosure of this type of behaviour.

24. The Inquiry reviewed a large amount of witness and documentary evidence, which was disclosed to core participants where relevant. Due to the lack of evidence in relation to earlier periods, this report covers the period from the late 1960s to date.

25. References in this report such as ‘NSC000102’ and ‘NSC000102_10’ are to documents or specific pages of documents that have been adduced in evidence and can be found on the Inquiry’s website. A reference such as ‘Hicks 19 October 2018 142/8-23’ is to the hearing transcript which is also available on the website; that particular reference is to the evidence of Rhona Hicks on 19 October 2018 at page 142, lines 8 to 23.

 

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