This week the inquiry into historic child sexual abuse under New Zealand judge Lady Justice Goddard will start preliminary hearings which could last years. On Wednesday it starts with a hearing into allegations against the late Lord Janner. The following Wednesday there are two short sessions looking into abuse inside the Anglican Church and at Knowl View and other venues in Rochdale and on Thursday March 24 into child sexual abuse of people in the care of Lambeth Council. The details are here.
Last week a report came out from the United Kingdom Child Sex Abuse People’s Tribunal- a very small scale investigation that took evidence from 24 people covering different types of sexual abuse with families, institutions and paedophile rings. What comes out – apart from horrific stories from the testimony of individuals – is a system not capable of sensitively handling the issue. It points out the problem of survivors having to cope with a difficult legal adversarial system to get justice with the ability to tell their own stories. The full report can be read here.
That to my mind is as important as the recommendations reported on Mail On line by the Press Association here. These include a permanent commission,provision of advocates to survivors, proper links between mental health and police investigating abuse and a safe channel for victims yo give evidence anonymouslyplus better training for police, the judiciary and the health service to handle cases.
This report deserves to be taken seriously as its steering committee was composed mainly of survivors themselves aided by professional advisers and two experts, Regina Paulose, an American lawyer and former prosecutor and Alan Collins, a British solicitor with enormous experience in handling child abuse cases from Jersey’s Haut de la Garenne inquiry to Australia and Kenya.
If the Goddard Inquiry really wants to tackle the issue they could not do much better than take this on board when they start their hearings.