DAVID HENCKE JOB HALF DONE

Job Half Done: Alexis Jay’s statement on the future of the Child Sexual Abuse inquiry

by davidhencke

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC
CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM
The
statement by Alexis Jay, the chair of the Independent Inquiry into
Child Sexual Abuse,  should be welcomed as an important step in the
right direction.
It
makes it very clear to the naysayers – from Harvey Proctor to The Sun
newspaper – that the inquiry is not to be wound up and will continue and
examine events covered up in the past. She could not be clearer.
“I
disagree with those who say we should not consider what happened in the
past. This is a necessary part of our work. Lessons have to be learnt
from institutional failures and any cover-ups which have come to light,
and only in this way can we look to the future with confidence. I have
to say that I regard calls for us to forget the past with a high degree
of scepticism, not least because some institutions may have the most to
hide and a vested interest in not turning a spotlight on what happened
in the past.”
She
also believes the terms of reference are deliverable possibly within
five years by 2020. So it will not drag its feet for over a decade.
But
for me the most interesting part of her statement – and why it is
particularly important – is the context she lays down for the future of
the inquiry  She is moving away from a heavily legally dominated inquiry
which would have dramatic hearings – which lawyers love – to a more
rounded approach that it should have had in the first place.
This paragraph is the crucial one:
We
need a clear focus on the truly big changes required across
institutions in England and Wales. This ensures that our findings and
recommendations are widely relevant and that no institution can avoid
the reach of this Inquiry. To do this, we will align the elements of
this Inquiry across four major themes:

a. Cultural – examining the attitudes, behaviours and values within
institutions which prevent us from stopping child sexual abuse;

b. Structural – examining the legislative, governance and
organisational frameworks in place, both within and between
institutions;
c. Financial – examining the financial, funding and resource arrangements for relevant institutions and services; and
d.
Professional and political – examining the leadership, professional and
practice issues for those working or volunteering in relevant
institutions.
To
my mind this is providing a structure for future investigations and
putting a much greater emphasis on changing how society views child
sexual abuse and how we are going to fund a much better service  to help
survivors and become aware of what a big problem child sexual abuse is
in this country.
This
comes as Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable who is co-ordinating
current police investigations through Operation Hydrant, has said that
as a conservative figure there are 100,000 people viewing child sexual
abuse images in England and Wales. If that is not a wake up call to the
scale of the problem what is.
It
also chimes in with the admission from Margaret Hodge in her book
Called to Account on how naive she was in the 1980s not believing that
 Islington child  sexual abuse was rife because her officials and the
police told her it was not true. She admits her biggest failing was not
to talk to the victims and survivors at the time.
Why
I say the job is half done – is that we do not know whether all the
individual inquiries – from Greville Janner  to Westminster and the
Church of England will go ahead  as planned.
Given
following Ben Emmerson’s resignation she has no  counsel to the inquiry
that is not surprising. But I would suspect that these inquiries will
have to be narrowed in  scope to prevent the process being overwhelmed.
It will require some very judicial decision making to decide which cases
will need to be emphasised.
However
survivors like Andi Lavery are totally wrong headed to call for her
resignation. He does not represent the views of all survivors and it is
not even clear whether he has even consulted them before demanding such
action.
Her
appointment has taken the direction of the inquiry away from just a
series of legal type trials to a proper, well rounded scrutiny of the
toxic issue of child sexual abuse. And  her role should be welcomed not
denigrated.
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