All party parliamentary group on child sexual abuse makes recommendations to Government
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A report titled Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse has been published by an all-party parliamentary group. The report is based on two years’ work exploring the resources and support available to adult survivors, and finds that all major services (including health, police, courts and crown prosecution) are failing individuals.
Days before the release of the report, it was noted in The Guardian that police have admitted there was an “epidemic” of child sexual abuse in children’s homes, churches, schools and foster families in the 1970’s and 80’s, leaving countless people in their 50s and older living with the effects of abuse and no chance of compensation.
The office of National Statistics estimates that 3.1 million people aged between 18-74 were sexually abused in childhood, but the report highlights that only 54% of survivors who responded to their research had reported being abused to the police. Two in five of those survivors said they were then not taken seriously by police when reporting.
The report makes a number of recommendations to the government; the ones likely to have the greatest impact are:
- Funding a nationwide public health campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse issues and their impact
- Provide and promote a one-stop-shop website where survivors can access information which would include accessing relevant services in their area
- Make changes to the law so that suspects under investigation for sexual offences against children and adults only be released from police custody on bail
- The Victim’s Code be made into Victim’s Law
- CPS should reimburse survivors for their travel to attend meetings about decisions not to charge
- All court staff undergo mandatory training that gives them basic knowledge of trauma and its impact on witnesses
- Ensure survivors are aware of their right to apply for anonymity
- Government to legislate to extend the list of offences exempt from double jeopardy law to include all offences relating to non-penetrative child sexual abuse
- Increase funding for specialist sexual violence and abuse services
Enable Law’s specialist child abuse lawyer Gary Walker says:
“Whilst the report is shocking in identifying the extent of abuse that so many people experience during their childhood, it is encouraging that issues within the public health and criminal justice system are being highlighted. I recognise that there are many challenges facing survivors looking for redress and justice following what they have endured. I would strongly support the recommendations within the report which would help survivors overcome these challenges.”
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