In October 2022 the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its final report with 20 recommendations to better protect and support victims of child sexual abuse. Two of those key recommendations concerned (1) reforming limitation laws in abuse claims, and (2) a national redress scheme to compensate victims of abuse.
The UK Government initially responded to these recommendations in May 2023 and at that time indicated that it would explore the options on how existing judicial guidance in child sexual abuse could be strengthened, as well as setting out options for the reform of limitation law in child sexual abuse cases.
In relation to the issue of redress, the Government also explained that while it accepted the need to introduce a redress scheme, the details of the scheme itself, including the key components of eligibility, types of redress available, the extent of any financial component and application process, would need to be considered further following extensive engagement, including with victims and survivors, third sector organisations, local authorities, insurers and lawyers.
On 10 January 2024, the Government provided a further update on its “progress in implementing commitments made in response to the recommendations” of IICSA.
Notwithstanding the fact the Government acknowledged in May 2023 that limitation was a critical issue that IICSA was attempting to resolve by making its recommendation, it appears no further progress has been made.
The Government had originally asserted that it would publish a consultation paper by the end of 2023 to explore the various options for reform, but no paper materialised. The Government has now simply reiterated this intention and confirmed that it will “publish a consultation paper shortly”, again for the purpose of setting out options for reforming limitation law in child sexual abuse cases, as well as examining how the existing judicial guidance in child sexual abuse cases could be strengthened.
Similar to the position on limitation, it appears progress concerning redress has been somewhat slow. The Government’s update on a national redress acknowledges that any scheme “will require significant join up and collaboration across Government to work through the many complexities involved in delivering a scheme that is sensitive to victim and survivor needs and provides a non-adversarial, trauma-informed route to seeking redress.”
The Government also asserts that it “has been engaging extensively with experts in this area – victim and survivor representative organisations, academics, lawyers, insurers and redress schemes operated by other national and local governments – to scope the potential options and costs of establishing a redress scheme in England and Wales.”
The Government has sought to provide reassurance that where it can act quickly they are doing so and where more time is required, they “are dedicating resources to disentangle complex issues and ensure [they] deliver what victims and survivors need.” However, given the apparent lack of progress on these issues since the Government’s initial response in May 2022, it remains that the real prospect of a general election this year is likely to significantly impact upon the potential appetite and timetable for any reform and implementation of IICSA’s recommendations for both limitation and a national redress scheme.
Head of Abuse
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