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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse in custodial institutions

Sample and methods

Of the 3,701 people who shared an experience between June 2016 and January 2020, 47 (1.3 percent) described child sexual abuse that related to a custodial institution. Cases were included where the sexual abuse took place in the following custodial institution types:

  • young offender institutions
  • borstals
  • approved schools
  • assessment centres
  • remand centres
  • detention centres
  • secure children’s homes/care units.

Given the small number of people sexually abused in the context of custodial institutions who had participated in the Truth Project to January 2020, we have adopted a qualitative approach in the analysis undertaken for this report.

The qualitative information is predominantly drawn from 8 of the 47 Truth Project accounts relating to child sexual abuse in custodial institutions. The majority of participants described abuse that had taken place in custodial institutions prior to 1990, and this is reflected in the spread of the cases selected for the qualitative sample. The eight accounts were selected within a sampling framework designed to ensure we included a range of characteristics and circumstances, such as the time period in which the abuse occurred, victim’s age and victim’s gender.

We have not broken down our analysis by the specific type of custodial institution discussed by victims and survivors, because it is not systematically recorded in the data-collection process and is also not always shared by participants.

A detailed explanation of the process used for carrying out analysis of Truth Project information can be found in a separate report, Truth Project Research: Methods (King and Brähler, 2019).

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