When Teresa May set up the Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in 2014, we had a Prime Minister who regarded Child Sexual Abuse and the eradication thereof as her top priority in government. The inquiry took 8 years, cost hundreds of millions of pounds, and, it appears, achieved practically nothing. Hence, a number of solicitors who participated actively in the Inquiry decided to write a letter of protest to the Times.
Some 12 months since the release of the IICSA Report, and 5 months since the Home Office response interested parties are looking back, and demanding action.
Even the release, with attendant and accompanying sensitivity to his victims, of the Steve Coogan, Jimmy Savile documentary, does not appear to have achieved any awakening in the political or public conscience.
To recap my previous articles;-
- My Summary of the Final Report of IICSA with the 20 recommendations and links
- Home Office Respond to Final Report of Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse
- What do commentators think of the Home Office response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Report
The only reaction we appear to have had from Rishi Sunak, and Suella Braverman appears to be a sound bite directed at eradicating child sexual exploitation gangs, which is somewhat curious when one considers that this did not appear in the IICSA October 2022 Report.
The reaction we got from the Home Office was the equivalent of a slippery pole. It was trumpeted with much fanfare, and appeared to agree with all the recommendations made by IICSA, yet actually promised very little. 1 year on there has been very little progress other than a Mandatory Reporting consultation (this is the third consultation, if you count that done by IICSA).
This is the best example of political manoeuvring one has seen for a while. If you peer beneath the bonnet of the Home Office announcement, you will find that they agree to implement practically none of the recommendations but say they do so at the beginning. The devil, as always, is in the detail.
The word on the ground is that all departments are doing their best to delay the Mandatory Reporting legislation because they fear the prosecution of teachers and social workers which is certainly not the intention behind the change in the law. Prevention of harm rather than the punishment of professionals is the key message. After all, there is likely to be a new government in less than a year. If, as forecast, it is a change to socialism, then the can can be kicked down the road.
The degree of outrage that the response of the Home Office has provoked can be seen by the outspoken interview that Professor Alexis Jay gave at the time the Home Office response was released. She is not employed by the Inquiry anymore, yet she is giving of her time pro bono to try and ensure that her mammoth efforts over the 8 year period have not gone to waste. Other members of the panel are similarly enraged. The safety of children is at stake.
If there was as much public outrage against child sexual abuse as there has been in the past, fueled indeed by media comment, then there might be some chance of action from the government. Significantly, we now seem to be in a world of a cost of living crisis and saving the planet from its own destruction, closely followed by an imminent general election. No longer are gentlemen and ladies with strong views talking about the scandal of child abuse, but rather how to save money on your electric bill by bolting solar panels to your roof.
There is talk of an event in Parliament and an attempt to curry cross party support for some action, but I remain somewhat cynical against the background of Rishi Sunak promising a row back of climatic policy, and a lack of compulsion to change your central heating boiler.
The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.