The Jay Report: A Triumph for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

The inquiry into child sexual abuse was launched seven years ago and hampered by setbacks .

Managing the seven-year inquiry into child sexual abuse to a set of conclusions will itself be seen as a triumph for Prof Alexis Jay.

But its findings have not gone far enough for many victims.

Lady Jay took over in November 2016 amid concerns that the inquiry would have to be abandoned.

She joined in the wake of three high profile resignations of previous chairs over a three-year period.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had withdrawn from the post because her brother served as attorney general in the 1980s, when reports of child abuse were allegedly not examined properly.

Dame Fiona Woolf left months later after it emerged that she was a friend and neighbour of the former home secretary Leon Brittan, whose role in dealing with allegations of child abuse in the 1980s was up for scrutiny.

It later emerged that Brittan had been falsely accused of ritual sexual abuse by a fantasist.

Dame Lowell Goddard, a New :

Zealand-based judge, resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in August 2016 saying there was a “legacy of failure” that was difficult to shake off.

Then, soon after Jay took over, Ben Emmerson KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, as well as his deputy, Elizabeth Prochaska, both barristers at Matrix Chambers, stood down.

Despite the tumult surrounding the inquiry, the conclusions have been broadly welcomed.

Some representatives of victims have questioned whether the headline finding – a call for a new criminal offence for people working in positions of trust who fail to report claims of abuse – can be justified.

The cost of the inquiry, £186m, has also been called in to question.

One participant said: “The idea of mandatory reporting was an idea that had been around for many years.

We did not need an inquiry to come up with that conclusion.”

Lawyers representing victims have complained that the mandatory reporting recommendation contains “loopholes”.

Police and social workers will not be required to act if they receive a report from a third party such as a neighbour, while there is an exception if a child aged between 13 and 16 is deemed to be in a “consensual relationship” and the older party is not in a position of trust.

Richard Scorer, the head of abuse law at Slater and Gordon – which represented more than 120 victims at the inquiry – said there should also be a criminal penalty for failure to report abuse which is reasonably suspected, otherwise organisations would continue to turn a blind eye.

He said: “Mandatory reporting can only work if the requirement to report suspicions has consequences such as a criminal sanction.

The inquiry’s proposal falls short of what survivors seek.”

The government says it will respond in full within six months.

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