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Recommendations - Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster investigation report.

In line with the Inquiry's process for monitoring responses to its recommendations, we have requested statements from relevant institutions in relation to recommendations that had not yet been responded to. Responses have subsequently been received.

Extension of forfeiture criteria for honours

Recommendation

The criteria for forfeiture of all honours must be formally extended to include convictions, cautions and cases decided by trial of the facts involving offences of child sexual abuse. This must be set out in a published policy and procedure, which must include a clear policy on how forfeiture decisions are made public. The Inquiry expects the Forfeiture Committee to take a lead on this matter.

Responses

On 18 September 2020, the UK Government stated that most of the structure and responsibility for the operation of the honours system is independent of the Government. Changes to policy on forfeiture are made on advice from the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee). The HD Committee will be taking forward an in-depth review of forfeiture policy in this area, in response to the Inquiry’s recommendation.

Re-examination of posthumous forfeiture policy for honours

Recommendation

The Cabinet Office should re-examine the policy on posthumous forfeiture, in order to consider the perspectives of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Responses

On 18 September 2020, the UK Government stated that most of the structure and responsibility for the operation of the honours system is independent of the Government. Changes to policy on forfeiture are made on advice from the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee). The HD Committee will be taking forward an in-depth review of forfeiture policy in this area, in response to the Inquiry’s recommendation. 

Whistleblowing policies and procedure in government departments and political parties covering child sexual abuse and exploitation

Recommendation

Government, political parties and other Westminster institutions must have whistleblowing policies and procedures which cover child sexual abuse and exploitation. Every employee must be aware that they can raise any concerns using these policies and that the policies are not limited to concerns specific to a person’s employment.

Responses

On 26 June 2020, the Liberal Democrats confirmed that it has amended the Party’s safeguarding policy and code of conduct for working with children and vulnerable adults to clarify and expand on the procedure for whistleblowing in relation to child sexual abuse allegations. Training has also been designed to be delivered to Party employees and volunteers to ensure that every employee is aware that they can raise any concerns using these policies and that the policies are not limited to concerns specific to a person’s employment. 

On 10 July 2020, the Co-operative Party outlined the steps that it has taken in response to the Inquiry’s recommendations. The Co-Operative Party stated that it has a clear policy on safeguarding which is included in the Party’s rules and published on the Party’s website. The Party’s policy on safeguarding is also included in the Staff Handbook, together with the policy and process on whistleblowing policy. In addition, the Co-Operative Party stated that elected representatives and lay officers will be reminded of the Party’s safeguarding policy by 31 July 2020.

On 18 September 2020, the UK Government confirmed that all government departments have whistleblowing policies in place. To support departments in ensuring their policies are effective, a model policy is provided by the Civil Service Employee Policy, which is part of Civil Service HR. The policy specifically mentions danger to environments or to people, where it gives the example of abuse or mistreatment of children. In addition, the ‘Speak Up Campaign’ in 2019 supported departments with their implementation of the model policy and a further campaign is planned for 2021. 

On 9 December 2020, the Labour Party confirmed that it has revised its whistleblowing policy in its Employee Handbook so that it now specifically addresses employees’ safeguarding concerns. The policy directs the employee to the Party’s Safeguarding team so that the appropriate legal and professional approach is then taken. 

On 11 December 2020, the Ulster Unionist Party confirmed that it had adopted a Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. The policy outlines procedures to follow when reporting child protection concerns within the party. 

On 12 March 2021, the Green Party confirmed that it had implemented its updated Staff Whistleblowing Policy. All Green Party employees were made aware that they can and should raise concerns using these policies and that it is not limited to any concerns specific to their employment. Green Party Governance bodies also approved a new Members Whistleblowing Procedure in March 2021 which refers to the harm of children and how it triggers the Safeguarding Policy and Procedure.

Child safeguarding policies and procedures of government departments

Recommendation

The Cabinet Office must ensure that each government department reviews its child safeguarding policy or policies in light of the expert witness report of Professor Thoburn. There must also be published procedures to accompany their policies, in order that staff know how to enact their department’s policy. All government departments must update their safeguarding policies and procedures regularly, and obtain expert safeguarding advice when doing this.

Responses

On 18 September 2020, the UK Government stated that Civil Service HR had launched a model safeguarding policy and ‘Health Check’ process in January, which is made available to all departments. This enables departments to check their own procedures and practices to ensure they are fit for purpose. A check of the use of the policy and process in departments will be undertaken later in 2020.

Safeguarding policies and procedures for all political parties

Recommendation

All political parties registered with the Electoral Commission in England and Wales must ensure that they have a comprehensive safeguarding policy. 

All political parties must also ensure that they have procedures to accompany their policies, in order that politicians, prospective politicians, staff and volunteers know how to enact their party’s policy, which must be published online. All political parties must update their policies and procedures regularly, and obtain expert safeguarding advice when doing this. 

The Electoral Commission should monitor and oversee compliance with this recommendation.

Responses

On 26 June 2020, the Liberal Democrats stated that the Party’s safeguarding policy and code of conduct for working with children and vulnerable adults has been amended to reflect the practice outlined by Professor June Thoburn during the investigation. This includes adding a new section on safeguarding at Party events, and including a more detailed guidance on appropriate and inappropriate behaviours when working with young people and vulnerable adults. 

On 3 July 2020, the Electoral Commission stated that it fully supports the recommendation that political parties should have high quality safeguarding and child protection procedures. The Commission noted that given the statutory  scope of the Commission’s remit, introducing a requirement that it should monitor and oversee compliance with the Inquiry’s recommendation on the safeguarding policies of political parties would require a change in the law. While it has experience and expertise on financial regulation, it does not have experience and expertise in child protection matters. The Commission considered it would be more appropriate for the recommendation to be directed towards other organisations which have that experience and expertise, and which are therefore much better placed to evaluate the quality of procedures and how they are implemented.

On 9 December 2020, the Labour Party confirmed it has developed comprehensive safeguarding policies and procedures. The procedures set out how politicians, prospective politicians, volunteers and members should act if they are concerned about the welfare of a child, the behaviour of an adult towards a child, or if they have any other safeguarding concern. The Labour Party stated that its Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedure is reviewed on an annual basis by the party’s National Executive Committee and that the party consults with experts for safeguarding advice when necessary. 

On 11 December 2020, the Ulster Unionist Party confirmed that its Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy had been distributed via email to party employees and members in January 2018. A link to the policy is also included on the Party’s website. The Ulster Unionist party will be reviewing this policy in January 2021. 

On 4 February 2021 , the Scottish National Party confirmed that it had published its safeguarding policy on its members only section of its website. 

On 8 March 2021, the Democratic Unionist Party published its safeguarding policy. The policy includes how to report any breaches of the policy and that staff, members, volunteers and elected representatives must not abuse their position of trust. 

On 12 March 2021, the Green Party updated its whistleblowing and safeguarding policies. Every Green Party of England and Wales employee was made aware that they can and should raise concerns using these policies. The Green Party Governance bodies also approved a new Members Whistleblowing Procedure in March 2021 which makes reference to the harm of children and how it triggers the Safeguarding Policy and Procedure.   

On 14 May 2021, the Social Democratic and Labour Party stated that it had published its safeguarding policy, which sets out how to engage with children and young people, and how to report any safeguarding concerns. 

Recommendations process

You can find out about our process for monitoring responses by visiting our web page.

Investigation report

View the Westminster investigation report in its entirety.

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