Child sexual abuse inquiry to target churches and other institutions
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Judge Lowell Goddard’s inquiry into child sexual abuse is to investigate allegations against politicians and establishment figures, as well as a variety of public institutions.
The Church of England and the Roman Catholic church have been identified for investigation, as have children’s care homes in Nottinghamshire and Lambeth.
Internet-based child abuse will also be considered, as well as grooming and sexual exploitation in places such as Rochdale and Rotherham, Devon and Cornwall.
Politicians will not be immune from scrutiny, with senior Westminster and Whitehall figures to come under the spotlight.
12 initial investigations will be run in parallel. The judge described this as ‘an organisational challenge that is unprecedented in a public inquiry in the United Kingdom.’
The investigations – which are part of the largest public inquiry into institutional child abuse ever held in this country – are expected to take 18 months or more to complete.
The investigation will not shirk from looking at high-profile allegations against Members of Parliament, political advisers and civil servants. It will also investigate allegations of establishment cover-ups and conspiracy concerning abuse.
The initial 12 areas investigations are:
- Children in the care of Lambeth council
- Children in the care of Nottinghamshire councils
- Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale council
- Sexual abuse in the Anglican church
- Sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church
- The sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions
- Child sexual abuse in residential schools
- The internet and child sexual abuse
- Child exploitation by organised networks
- The protection of children outside the United Kingdom
- Accountability and reparations for victims and survivors
- Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster
These investigations will be followed by further investigations into specific cases, with up to 25 cases in total being scrutinised.
Thousands of child abuse victims will be taking part in a “truth project”, sharing their distressing experiences in private hearings which will then form part of the evidence to be scrutinised.
The inquiry has been welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Durham and the Catholic church.
Victims’ organisations also reacted positively to the announcement.