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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Final report

J.5: “Accountability and reparations”

“They need to be held accountable”

27. Victims and survivors repeatedly made suggestions for how institutions should acknowledge and be held accountable for child sexual abuse:

They can’t undo what happened, but I’d like the organisation to acknowledge it and to show how they prevent it happening today.[1]

Member of the Victims and Survivors Forum

28. Many also expressed their desire to receive an apology for the child sexual abuse they experienced. One victim and survivor said: “So many people never apologise or say these words, ‘I am so sorry this happened to you’”.[2]

29. Some victims and survivors wanted financial compensation to be provided by the institution in which they were sexually abused. This was often felt to be an effective way to hold the institution to account. IN-H1 gave evidence about her son and daughter who were sexually abused online. She suggested that internet companies should provide compensation to her children: “it should be their responsibility to pay compensation for anything that goes wrong”.[3] Other victims and survivors wanted financial compensation from institutions to fund support services.

30. Victims and survivors often suggested that institutions should maintain accurate records about children with whom they engage. Many advocated longer record-retention periods and clearer rights for victims and survivors to access information about them:

A lot of the stress that comes with accessing records is a lack of knowledge about the systems, the processes. Someone knows the process and the language to use, it would be helpful if there were people out there to help [victims and survivors] in their journeys.[4]

Member of the Victims and Survivors Forum

“The criminal justice system”

31. A considerable number of victims and survivors said that there should be more police officers with specialist training in child sexual abuse. Suggestions were also made about the way that the police communicate with victims and survivors. Others emphasised the importance of the police signposting victims and survivors to support services. Victims and survivors also thought that the Crown Prosecution Service should communicate more clearly on verdicts, sentencing and “around their decisions not to prosecute”.[5]

32. Victims and survivors repeatedly spoke about the need for better support and guidance for those going through court proceedings. One Truth Project participant said that “court processes need to more explicitly and sensitively consider and acknowledge the impact of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors”.[6] Many individuals thought that victims and survivors should be allocated a dedicated support worker.[7] Others suggested that more should be done to manage victims and survivors’ expectations of the trial process, including its length and potential outcomes.

33. Many victims and survivors suggested that there should be harsher sentences for perpetrators of child sexual abuse, with some advocating longer prison sentences.

The sentence massively diminished the crime – it makes me feel worthless.[8]

Bethany, Truth Project participant

“The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority”

34. A large number of victims and survivors spoke to the Inquiry about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Some thought that public awareness of CICA should be increased. Other victims and survivors called for practical and emotional support when applying for compensation from CICA. In addition, many thought that the eligibility criteria for compensation should be extended to remove time limits and to include victims and survivors with an unspent criminal record. Victims and survivors also felt that those who were sexually abused as children should not have to ‘prove’ the impact the sexual abuse had had on them in order to receive compensation.

“The civil justice system”

35. Victims and survivors frequently suggested that the limitation period for civil claims should be removed. The limitation period imposes a time limit on victims and survivors of non-recent child sexual abuse to bring civil claims against the institution in which they were sexually abused. Many felt that this rule did not account for the barriers to disclosing child sexual abuse that victims and survivors face.

36. A number of suggestions were made to improve victims and survivors’ experiences of the civil justice system. These included, for example, that vulnerable victims and survivors should be better supported to make claims. AR-A78 described why this was necessary: “victims of child abuse will still be highly vulnerable … and are therefore far less capable of navigating the civil justice system”.[9] Other victims and survivors emphasised the need for more regular, clear communication about the civil justice process. AR-A41 suggested that “better explanations as to what was happening by the solicitors” were needed.[10]


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