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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

A.2: The Inquiry’s activities

14. The Inquiry undertook three main strands of activity.

Investigations and public hearings

15. The Inquiry’s investigative work underpinned the public hearings, involving a number of investigations chosen on the basis of the criteria for selection published in 2016. The breadth of these investigations enabled the Inquiry to identify any patterns of institutional failings. Each investigation – except for the thematic inquiry into effective leadership of child protection – concluded with a single report or, where necessary, more than one. The findings of the effective leadership of child protection investigation are reflected in this report. In total, 19 investigation reports have been published and are available online.

  • Child Migration Programmes Investigation Report, published in March 2018;
  • Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Investigation Report, published in April 2018;
  • Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation Case Study) Investigation Report, published in August 2018;
  • Sexual Abuse of Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009–2017 Investigation Report, published in February 2019;
  • The Anglican Church Case Studies: 1. The Diocese of Chichester; 2. The Response to Allegations against Peter Ball Investigation Report, published in May 2019;
  • The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report, published in June 2019;
  • Children in the Care of the Nottinghamshire Councils Investigation Report, published in July 2019;
  • Accountability and Reparations Investigation Report, published in September 2019;
  • The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: English Benedictine Congregation: 1. Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School; 2. Ampleforth and Downside: Update Investigation Report, published in October 2019;
  • Children Outside the United Kingdom: Phase 2 Investigation Report, published in January 2020;
  • Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Linked to Westminster Investigation Report, published in February 2020;
  • The Internet Investigation Report, published in March 2020;
  • The Anglican Church: Safeguarding in the Church of England and the Church in Wales Investigation Report, published in October 2020;
  • The Roman Catholic Church: Safeguarding in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales Investigation Report, published in November 2020;
  • Children in the Care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report, published in July 2021;
  • Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings Investigation Report, published in September 2021;
  • Institutional Responses to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Involving the Late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC Investigation Report, published in October 2021;
  • Child Sexual Exploitation by Organised Networks Investigation Report, published in February 2022; and
  • The Residential Schools Investigation: Phase 1: Music Schools, Residential Special Schools; Phase 2: Safeguarding: Day and Boarding Schools Investigation Report, published in March 2022.

Annex 2 contains a summary of the investigation reports.

16. Each report set out the Inquiry’s conclusions and, where appropriate, recommendations for change. Annex 3 provides a summary of the Inquiry’s 107 recommendations, and the institutional response to each recommendation as at June 2022. Information published on the Inquiry’s website also provides additional updates on the institutional response following publication of the Inquiry’s investigation reports.

17. More than 200,000 documents, comprising almost two and a half million pages of evidence, were obtained by the Inquiry in the course of its investigations, of which more than 40,000 documents, comprising over 600,000 pages, were disclosed to core participants.

18. The Inquiry obtained written statements from almost 1,000 witnesses. Witnesses included victims and survivors, those directly involved in decision-making or the implementation of those decisions, corporate witnesses speaking on behalf of institutions, and other interested parties.

19. The Inquiry’s public hearings took place over 325 days and more than 700 witnesses gave evidence in person. This included accounts from victims and survivors that enabled the Inquiry to understand the extent to which institutions failed to protect them from sexual abuse when they were children. All those who gave evidence in person were offered tailored support to meet their needs throughout the process.

The Truth Project

20. The Truth Project was established to offer the opportunity for victims and survivors to share their experiences in a safe and respectful environment. Over 6,200 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in England and Wales participated in the Truth Project. The vast majority of participants (5,862) agreed to be part of (and were in scope of) the research programme and many participants put forward suggestions for change. By doing so, they helped the Inquiry to understand the long-term impact of child sexual abuse and to make recommendations for longer term reform. Their contributions challenged the assumptions that are so often made about the sexual abuse of children. The Truth Project dashboard for June 2016 to October 2021 is included in Annex 4.

21. This was a complex and extensive listening exercise carried out over six years. Each account, whether in person, in writing, or by telephone, video call or audio recording, was anonymised and, where permission had been granted, formed the basis of an analysis by the Inquiry’s research team. Pseudonyms have been used to protect the anonymity of victims and survivors who spoke to the Inquiry through the Truth Project or participated in the Inquiry’s research.

22. In order to support and protect victims and survivors, the Inquiry adopted a trauma-informed approach to take account of specific needs resulting from previous traumatic experiences. Trained facilitators were recruited to listen to their accounts and support services were offered, as appropriate.

23. The Inquiry enabled the widest participation of victims and survivors through awareness-raising campaigns across social media and other media outlets. It also worked closely with the charity SignHealth to support D/deaf people.


24. The Inquiry’s research programme filled gaps in knowledge about child sexual abuse and ensured that the Inquiry’s findings were informed by the latest learning. Activities included bringing together existing research as well as conducting quantitative and qualitative primary research. The Inquiry’s research collected fresh data, particularly from focus groups and from the interviews conducted with victims and survivors. Researchers analysed Truth Project information and provided regular updates on the Inquiry website. Twenty-four research and analysis reports have been published during the lifetime of the Inquiry and have, in turn, informed the Inquiry’s investigations and reports. Further details of these reports are included in Annex 2.

25. The Inquiry’s series of seminars gathered information and views about eight important issues. Each seminar involved a structured discussion among invited participants, including representatives of victims and survivors’ groups and organisations. The seminars took place on the following topics:

  • The Civil Justice System (November 2016)
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation (February 2017)
  • Preventing and responding to child sexual abuse – learning from best practice overseas (April 2017)
  • Victims and survivors’ experiences: impacts, support services and redress (July 2017)
  • The Health Sector (September 2017)
  • The Criminal Justice System (November 2017)
  • Social and political narratives about child sexual abuse (February 2018)
  • Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse (September 2018, April 2019).

26. Reports summarising each seminar were published and used to inform the Inquiry’s recommendations (see Annex 2 for further information).

27. Throughout the life of the Inquiry, the voices of victims and survivors have been placed at the heart of its work. In addition to the public hearings, the Truth Project and the research programme, victims and survivors have been consulted through a variety of additional arrangements: the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel, the Victims and Survivors Forum, and specific engagement activities sponsored by the Inquiry. All these initiatives have supported the fulfilment of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference to enable victims and survivors to share their experiences.

Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel

28. The members of the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel provided consultative advice on the Inquiry’s engagement activities, communications, research and recommendations. This advice ensured that the needs and perspectives of victims and survivors were reflected in the Inquiry’s work. All members of the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel had spent many years supporting adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Their experience, knowledge and advice provided valuable insights and expertise to the Inquiry.

29. At the conclusion of the Inquiry, the Panel members were May Baxter-Thornton, Sheila Coates, Lucy Duckworth, Emma Lewis, Fay Maxted, Kit Shellam and Chris Tuck. We would like to thank them for their contributions to the Inquiry.

Victims and Survivors Forum

30. The Victims and Survivors Forum was open to all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. By the conclusion of the Inquiry, there were more than 1,700 members across England and Wales. The members attended online and, where possible, face-to-face events to contribute to the Inquiry’s research and policy work. Comments and suggestions about these areas of work were shared with the Chair and Panel to inform their final recommendations. The Inquiry was also assisted by an Ethnic Minority Ambassador.

Engagement activities

31. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference were broad in nature. As a result, the Inquiry’s engagement activities provided an opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of contemporary issues facing children, members of ethnic minority communities who had experienced child sexual abuse, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others (LGBTQ+) community. Although these consultations did not amount to formal evidence, they contributed significantly to the Inquiry’s work, as did the support provided by the Victims and Survivors Forum and the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel.

Engagement with young people

32. In order to obtain the views of young people, the Inquiry held a number of events specifically for young people. Assisted by various charitable organisations, the Inquiry spoke with 56 young people aged between 11 and 21, and 77 specialist child abuse support workers. A number of important points were expressed by participants:

  • young victims and survivors faced long delays in accessing support;
  • specialist social workers who support young victims and survivors want to see improvements in how statutory bodies respond to child sexual abuse and exploitation;
  • there needed to be a culture shift so that talking about child sexual abuse became as acceptable as other subjects;
  • relationships and sex education in schools did not reflect the current challenges facing children and was mostly inconsistent and inadequate; and
  • creators of social media apps and internet platforms must take greater responsibility for the protection of children online.

Engagement with support services for ethnic minority communities

33. In order to obtain the views of victims and survivors from ethnic minority communities, specialist support services were consulted throughout England and Wales to enhance the Inquiry’s understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors from those communities. Over 100 organisations were consulted and six important issues were expressed by participants:

  • services to victims and survivors were mistrusted and considered to be inadequate;
  • language was a barrier to disclosure of child sexual abuse – interpreting services were poor;
  • there were additional barriers to disclosure in closed communities, particularly in relation to religious and internal support – the Inquiry was told that community leaders sometimes restrict access to external support services in order to protect the community and culture from outside influence or harm;
  • some organisations did not recognise or support the cultural and religious needs of victims and survivors from ethnic minority communities;
  • some organisations told the Inquiry how shame and honour within communities can silence victims and survivors; and
  • some victims and survivors from ethnic minority communities were removed from school relationships and sex education programmes and did not understand the concept of sexual activity – this, in turn, inhibited disclosure.

Engagement with the LGBTQ+ community

34. In order to obtain the views of victims and survivors from the LGBTQ+ community, 31 victims and survivors and 29 organisations were consulted. A number of important issues were expressed by participants:

  • Society’s views of LGBTQ+ victims and survivors are often built on harmful myths and stereotypes, including the myth that sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ+ victims and survivors is formed in response to the sexual abuse experienced as a child.
  • LGBTQ+ victims and survivors experience distinct barriers to disclosing and reporting child sexual abuse. This has led to under-reporting of child sexual abuse by LGBTQ+ victims and survivors.
  • Relevant support services are hard to find and LGBTQ+ victims and survivors often have to rely on personal recommendation rather than professional referral.

Selection criteria for investigations

35. The Inquiry selected situations suitable for investigation which fell within two categories:

  • institution-specific, involving inquiries into particular institutions or types of institution; and
  • thematic, concerning a series of broad areas where multiple institutions might have played a role in protecting children from abuse.

36. In selecting situations suitable for investigation, the Inquiry applied the following criteria:

  • the situation appeared to the Inquiry to involve credible allegations of child sexual abuse in an institutional setting or by a person who has exploited an official position in order to perpetrate child sexual abuse;
  • the institution(s) appeared to the Inquiry, on credible evidence, to have facilitated or failed to prevent child sexual abuse, whether through an act, policy or omission; or
  • the institutions(s) or a person acting in an official capacity appeared to have failed to respond appropriately to allegations of child sexual abuse.

37. The Inquiry also selected situations which appeared:

  • to be typical of a pattern of child sexual abuse occurring in the sector or context involved;
  • to be practically capable of detailed examination through oral and written evidence;
  • to involve no significant risk to the fairness and effectiveness of any ongoing police investigation or prosecution; and
  • likely to result in currently relevant conclusions or give rise to relevant recommendations.

38. Throughout its work, the Inquiry also took account of the needs of particularly vulnerable children and those from socially excluded or minority groups.

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