UK inquiry issues final report into 'epidemic' of child sexual abuse
By Devin Watkins
The Panel of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its Final Report on Thursday, wrapping up 7 years of investigations into the scourge in various sectors of British society.
The in-depth inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales began in July 2014, announced by British Home Secretary, Theresa May. In February 2015, the IICSA was formed as a statutory inquiry, granting it vast legal powers of subpoena and access to classified information.
The inquiry examined how the country’s institutions carried out their duty-of-care to protect children from sexual abuse, including the Catholic and Anglican Churches, schools, and healthcare facilities, along with government institutions.
In the Final Report, the IICSA lamented that child abuse is a national epidemic and estimated that 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 16.
The report said that both institutions and politicians had put reputations before the welfare of children and covered up abuse cases for decades. It also noted that many institutions have yet to implement adequate safeguarding measures.
Speaking to reporters to announce the report, IICSA Chair Alexis Jay said the scale of the abuse uncovered by the inquiry was “shocking and deeply disturbing.”
"This is not just a historical aberration which happened decades ago, it is an ever-increasing problem and a national epidemic,” she said.
Commitment to safeguarding
Following its publication, the Catholic Council issued a statement welcoming the IICSA Final Report and highlighting its intention to study the report’s contents and recommendations.
The Catholic Council—set up by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to comply with the investigation—also offered assurances that the Church will continue to seek to protect the vulnerable.
Listening to abuse survivors
The statement noted that the Church commissioned its own independent review ahead of the publication of the IICSA’s case study report into the Church’s safeguarding work, which was released in November 2020.
The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) started work in April 2021, and ensures that safeguarding standards are upheld in the Church in England and Wales.
The Church upheld its desire to listen to the voices of victims and survivors of abuse, calling it “an integral element in the development of this new agency.”
Apology and pledge to improve
In conclusion, the Catholic Council renewed its “unreserved apology” to people who have been hurt by abuse in the Church in England and Wales.
The Council also reaffirmed its “commitment to the continued refinement and improvement of our safeguarding work to protect all children and the vulnerable.”
Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here