Child sexual abuse repeatedly covered up in Westminster, schools and churches, scathing report finds

20 October 2022, 12:02 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 12:59

The IICSA has called for a "national redress scheme"
The IICSA has called for a "national redress scheme". Picture: LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Repeated cover-ups of child sexual abuse have been found in schools, churches and Westminster institutions, a scathing report has revealed.

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Among a raft of wide-ranging recommendations, IICSA called for a "national redress scheme" to get compensation for victims "let down by the state and non-state institutions in the past" to be launched.

It also called for a new law of mandatory reporting has been recommended, which would make it a criminal offence for anybody working in a position of trust to fail to report child sexual abuse, or signs of it.

The UK Government should create a post for a minister for children at cabinet level and the Welsh Government should make sure there is cabinet-level responsibility for children while a Child Protection Authority (CPA) should also be established to "secure a much stronger focus on the complex work of child protection in the relevant institutions and statutory agencies", the report said.

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Professor Alexis Jay.
Professor Alexis Jay. Picture: LBC

Professor Alexis Jay, chairwoman of the inquiry, said: "For too long, child sexual abuse has been considered a problem of the past, despite lifelong impacts on its young victims.

"Its extent cannot be underestimated; the sexual abuse of children is an epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake and some will never recover.

"Across our investigations ... we heard time and time again how allegations of abuse were ignored, victims were blamed and institutions prioritised their reputations over the protection of children.

"The nature and scale of the abuse we encountered were horrifying and deeply disturbing.

"As a society, we simply cannot file it away and consider it a historical aberration when so much of what we learned suggests it is an ever-growing problem, exacerbated by the current and future threat of the internet.

"I urge the UK government, the Welsh Government and all other relevant institutions to implement the inquiry's recommendations as a matter of urgency.

"Unless we are prepared to accept a world where our children, and their children, are always in danger of becoming victims of this terrible crime, action must be taken immediately."

The £186.6 million inquiry looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse
The £186.6 million inquiry looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Picture: LBC

The £186.6 million inquiry, set up in 2015, looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse - including investigations into abuse in Westminster and the church - with more than 7,000 victims taking part.

Some 325 days of public hearings saw testimony from 725 witnesses while 2.5 million pages of evidence were processed and scores of reports published with 87 recommendations already made as a result.

Six previous recommendations put forward by the inquiry were reissued in the final report as they had not been "properly addressed or acted upon by those whom they were directed".

A further 14 proposals were set out in the overall findings on Thursday and IICSA said it expects the UK and Welsh governments, and other institutions mentioned, to act on these "promptly" and report back on the steps they have taken within six months of the final report's publication.

This story is being updated