The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is set to conclude its public hearing into the Children in the Care of Lambeth Council investigation later this month.
The IICSA was set up by the government following concerns that some organisations had failed to protect children from child sexual abuse. In November 2015, it was announced that the inquiry would be undertaking 12 separate investigations, including one into “the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Lambeth Council from sexual abuse and exploitation”.
A four-week virtual public hearing into the Children in the Care of Lambeth Council investigation began on 29 June - 10 July and will resume between 20 July - 31 July.
The inquiry, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, will investigate whether there were child protection failures by public authorities, and consider the extent to which children's vulnerabilities put them at greater risk of sexual abuse, and how this may have impacted the response of authorities.
Evidence will be heard from a wide range of witnesses, including complainant core participants, former members of Lambeth Council, police officers and other public authorities.
A statement from Lambeth Council said: “We pledged from the earliest stage of the IICSA investigation to work transparently and cooperatively with the inquiry. The council has been cooperating with IICSA throughout the process and, so far, it has disclosed approximately 250,000 pages of relevant documents to IICSA. Lambeth’s corporate witness statement runs to more than 300 pages and makes reference to over 250 exhibits, some of which are lengthy reports.”
This is the second of the Inquiry’s public hearings to be held virtually, due to restrictions imposed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Proceedings will be streamed live on the Inquiry’s website and witnesses will continue to be supported by the Inquiry’s Support and Safeguarding team, through phone calls and video calls.
Children living in care in residential homes and foster families are amongst the most vulnerable children in society. This hearing will consider the experiences of victims and survivors to examine the scale and nature of the sexual abuse that may have taken place in children’s homes run by Lambeth Council.
Lambeth has a Redress Scheme which pays compensation to people who were abused or lived in fear of being abused while in Lambeth’s care as children. The scheme is for those who lived in or visited a Lambeth children’s home (including those at Shirley Oaks) or attended Shirley Oaks Primary School.
“At Lambeth Council, we know that many former children’s homes residents will never be able to forgive us for their childhood experiences,” said the statement from the council. “We are truly sorry for what happened to children in our care in the past and the consequences for their adult lives. While we cannot right those wrongs, we want everyone who is eligible for compensation to get it.”
There is more about the Redress Scheme here.