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Recommendations - Accountability and Reparations investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Accountability and Reparations investigation report.

Revision of the Victims’ Code

Recommendation

The Ministry of Justice should revise the Victims’ Code to make clear that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse must be advised by the police that:

a. They are entitled to seek civil compensation through the civil courts and, if they wish to do so, should seek legal advice - they should be signposted to specialist lawyers identified by the Ministry of Justice.

b. They are entitled to assistance completing any application to the CICA, should they require it. Such assistance should be provided by Independent Sexual Violence Advisers or other suitably qualified and trained persons.

c. At the conclusion of any criminal proceedings, the court may make orders for the payment of criminal compensation by convicted offenders to their victims.

d. They are entitled to be referred to organisations supporting victims of sexual abuse. They should be signposted to the support services available in their local area.

The College of Policing should make changes to its guidance (currently Authorised Professional Practice) to require police officers to provide oral and written information on each of these matters.

The Ministry of Justice should also provide further information on how the new compliance framework, and any other developments, will improve compliance with the Code for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Responses

On 16 January 2020, the College of Policing made changes to its Authorised Professional Practice to require police officers to provide written information on what victims are entitled to under the Victims’ Code and what they should expect from the criminal justice system.

On 6 April 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) noted that it is in the process of updating the Victims’ Code and the proposed changes, including ways of accessing support, seeking compensation and where to go for additional information and assistance in applying, are currently the subject of a public consultation until 16 April 2020. The College of Policing will review the guidance to police officers when the updated Code is introduced.

On 18 November 2020, the UK Government published a response to its consultation on a revised version of the Victims’ Code. The revised Code restructures the list of entitlements into 12 overarching ‘rights’. The revised Code advises victims: 

  • that they can apply for civil compensation outside the criminal justice process; 

  • they are entitled to legal advice on assistance or advice on claiming compensation and are signposted to these resources (this includes specialist support from ISVAs);

  • if the defendant pleads or is found guilty, the judge or magistrate may order them to pay the victim compensation for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of the crime;  

  • and victims have the right to be referred to services that support victims.  

The revised Victims’ Code has been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 1 April 2021.

On 16 March 2021, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated that the new Code of Practice for Victims of Crime will come into force on 1 April and that the Code has been restructured so that victims are the primary audience. The overarching rights in the new Code set out the level of service victims can expect to receive from criminal justice agencies and are easy to understand.  

Regarding monitoring compliance of the Code, the MoJ issued the first iteration of a framework to Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) and Police Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in 2019, where it was agreed that PCCs would oversee a new monitoring process, measuring criminal justice partners' compliance with certain entitlements in the Code. This work has been suspended due to the pandemic, but will resume later in 2021.  The MoJ also intends to consult on a Victims' Law to provide a statutory mechanism of holding agencies to account for compliance with the Code through improved reporting, monitoring and transparency.

Codes of practice for responding to civil claims of child sexual abuse

Recommendation

The Local Government Association and the Association of British Insurers should each produce codes of practice for responding to civil claims of child sexual abuse.

The codes should include recognition of the long-term emotional and psychiatric or psychological effects of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors, and acknowledgement that these effects may make it difficult for victims and survivors to disclose that they have been sexually abused and to initiate civil claims for that abuse.

The codes should also include guidance that:

a. claimants should be treated sensitively throughout the litigation process;

b. the defence of limitation should only be used in exceptional circumstances;

c. single experts jointly instructed by both parties should be considered for the assessment of the claimants’ psychiatric, psychological or physical injuries; and

d. wherever possible, claimants should be offered apologies, acknowledgement, redress and support.

Responses

As at 18 March 2020, the Association of British Insurers had conducted two meetings with representatives from member firms to establish key principles for inclusion in the Code of Practice. The Association of British Insurers are in the process of arranging a third meeting to further develop this piece of work and are working towards its conclusion by the end of this year.

As at September 2020, the Local Government Association had held a roundtable discussion to obtain the views and experiences of several member councils and had started a draft with the ambition of engaging with other stakeholders as part of the development process. The Local Government Association plans to provide an expected completion date as soon as it is able. 

On 22 February 2021, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) stated that it has made progress in developing a code of practice for responding to civil claims of child sexual abuse. The ABI noted that it is refining a full draft of a code following a meeting earlier that month of its members who write public liability insurance, and the ABI anticipates being in a position to finalise and publish this code in the coming months.

Revision of the Compensation Act 2006

Recommendation

The government should introduce legislation revising the Compensation Act 2006 to clarify that section 2 facilitates apologies or offers of treatment or other redress to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse by institutions that may be vicariously liable for the actions or omissions of other persons, including the perpetrators.

Responses

On 6 April 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) noted that section 2 of the Compensation Act was intended to encourage businesses, insurers and other organisations not to be deterred from offering apologies by a perception that doing so would necessarily constitute an admission of liability. It states that the focus of the 2006 Act on claims in negligence and breach of statutory duty is not intended to suggest that the provision is only of relevance to these proceedings. In light of the Inquiry’s views, officials at the MoJ will explore further whether it would be helpful to amend the 2006 Act or take alternative action to clarify that this is the case, and it will update the Inquiry in due course. 

On 16 March 2021 the Ministry of Justice stated that its exploration of whether it would be helpful to amend the Compensation Act 2006 or to take alternative action to clarify its applicability would take place once the Inquiry had published any recommendations on the limitation period for child sexual abuse claims. In addition, a Private Members’ Bill tabled by John Howell in December 2020 aims to encourage the use of apologies as a means of settling civil disputes. As a result, the MoJ stated that it intends to consult on the subject of apologies in the course of 2021 and will include reference to the specific issue raised by the Inquiry.

National register of public liability insurance policies

Recommendation

The Department of Work and Pensions should work with the Association of British Insurers to introduce a national register of public liability insurance policies. The register should provide details of the relevant organisation, the name of the insurer, all relevant contact details, the period of cover, and the insurance limit. These requirements should apply to policies issued and renewed after the commencement of the register, and those against which a claim has already been made.

The Financial Conduct Authority should make the necessary regulatory changes to compel insurers that provide public liability insurance to retain and publish details of all current policies.

Responses

On 24 March 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wrote to the Inquiry in response to this recommendation. The FCA stated that they recognise the potential for this recommendation to support its objective of securing an appropriate degree of protection for consumers. The FCA is conducting research into the costs and benefits of possible rule changes that would be needed to take forward the recommendation.

On 22 February 2021, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) stated that it had provided the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Treasury and the Ministry of Justice with copies of the report that it prepared for the Inquiry on whether a register of public liability insurance could be introduced to assist claimants in civil child sexual abuse claims. The ABI has also discussed with the Financial Conduct Authority the potential development of rules on the retention of public liability insurance records.

On 16 March 2021, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated that it has begun and will continue discussions with the ABI on the feasibility of establishing a public liability register. The MoJ stated that its work on this recommendation has been held up by its focus on progressing other areas of the Inquiry’s proposals and also due to the pandemic. The MoJ committed to resuming its dialogue with the ABI shortly to move work forward in relation to this recommendation.

Revision of the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Recommendation

The Judicial College should revise its Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases to include a freestanding section on the damages that may be appropriate in cases of child sexual abuse.

This new section of the guidelines should advise the court to take into account the nature and severity of the abuse itself, any short-term and long-term physical, emotional and psychiatric or psychological injuries, and the general effect of the abuse on the claimant’s capacity to function throughout their life. The latter may include the ability to sustain personal and sexual relationships, to benefit from education, and to undertake paid employment.

Responses

On 5 June 2020, the Judicial College noted that in its guidelines a section focusing upon awards for victims of child sexual abuse would be of considerable assistance to all involved in such cases. The Judicial College hopes to create a freestanding category for victims of child sexual abuse in the next edition of the guidelines. The next edition is due to be published in the autumn of 2021.

The use of criminal compensation orders

Recommendation

The Ministry of Justice should consult with the Sentencing Council, the Judicial College, the Crown Prosecution Service and other relevant bodies, in order to increase the use of CCOs, where appropriate, in cases involving child sexual abuse by, among other things, implementing guidance for the judiciary and prosecutors in the Crown Courts and Magistrates’ Courts.

Responses

On 6 April 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated that it has consulted with the Judicial College and the Sentencing Council in respect of implementing guidance for the judiciary in the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Courts, and with the Crown Prosecution Service in respect of guidance for prosecutors. The MoJ noted that it is the collective view of these organisations that existing sentencing guidelines are sufficient and that judges will already be aware of their sentencing powers, including the power to make a compensation order.  In addition, prosecutors will be ready to assist the court by drawing the court’s attention to its powers to award compensation. The MoJ proposes to undertake further exploration to better understand the reasons behind the low use of this power in cases of child sexual abuse. Once the work has been completed, the MoJ will then consider what steps to take, including whether further guidance would assist. 

On 16 March 2021, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that it remains committed to undertaking further exploration to better understand the reasons why courts make low numbers of compensation orders in cases of child sexual abuse, and that this work will start this spring.

Code for civil claims for child sexual abuse

Recommendation

 The International Underwriting Association of London should take the lead in the production of a code for the benefit of claimants who are bringing civil claims for child sexual abuse. The aim should be to produce a code, comparable to the Rehabilitation Code or for inclusion in that code, with the objective of ensuring that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse are able to access the therapy and support they need as soon as possible.

Responses

On 23 February 2021, the International Underwriting Association of London (IUA) stated that a working party was established to develop the code in December 2020. The group is identified as the IICSA Rehabilitation Working Party and has agreed to a terms of reference. The working party has discussed how best to approach the writing of this new rehabilitation code for victims of childhood abuse and work has also been undertaken to create test cases against which a new code can be tested.

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Investigation report

View the Recommendations from the Accountability and Reparations investigation report in it's entirety.

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