It has been suggested that an initial draft form of terms of reference might be helpful as a starting point for discussion by survivors and their representative bodies. Below is such a draft.
Please do not think I have any special expertise in drafting inquiry terms of reference. I am but a lay person (with some legal experience) in this.
What follows is a draft – very much a draft – based very loosely indeed on the terms of reference approved in Jersey in March 2013 for their continuing inquiry.
TERMS OF REFERENCE OF CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY
This child sexual abuse inquiry is set up within the terms of Inquiries Act 2005. It is asked and directed to inquire into the following and to make recommendations:
Part 1: Past events
- Establish the types of institutions (including specific institutions: eg schools, foster and other local authority home) in which sexual abuse of children occurred, or is alleged to have occurred, for a period since 1960.
- Establish and define in what other circumstances of any type (eg in Rochdale, Rotherham and Westminster) child sexual abuse occurred.
- Define the organisations and their administration (including recruitment and supervision of staff), management, governance and institutions and any other establishments caring for children, where child sexual abuse has been alleged, in the period under review.
- Consider whether child protection aspects of all institutions and establishments were fully appropriate (in objective and modern terms) to meet the proper needs of children and their safeguarding and protection.
- Examine and inquire fully as to any political and other oversight of children’s homes, fostering services schools and other establishments run by any public body concerned with child protection (eg local authorities and government departments and ministers). For the avoidance of doubt this aspect of the inquiry will require that witnesses be examined publically as to their involvement (and is likely to involve examination of former government ministers and other local and national politicians).
- Define all other relevant independent investigations and reports conducted in response to child sexual abuse issues in the period under review.
- Consider the experiences of those witnesses who suffered abuse or allege abuse, and hear from staff who worked in these services, together with any other relevant witnesses. It will be for the inquiry to determine, by balancing the interests of justice and the public interest against the presumption of openness, whether, and to what extent, all or any of the evidence given to it should be given in private.
- Identify how and by what means concerns about abuse were raised and how, and to whom, they were reported.
- Establish whether systems existed to allow children and others to raise concerns and safeguard their wellbeing, whether these systems were adequate, and if not to identify such failings as in the inquiry’s opinion there were.
- Consider and define (1) to what extent systems now exist to enable children and others who allege child sexual abuse to raise concerns and safeguard each individual child’s wellbeing; (2) whether these systems are adequate; and (3) if not to identify such failings as in the inquiry’s opinion there were.
- Review the actions of the agencies of the government, the justice system and politicians during the period under review, in particular when concerns came to light about child sexual abuse and how they were responded to by the agencies who should have responded.
- Consider how all those concerned with child protection (eg Police departments, Health authorities and Education and Social Services Departments) dealt with concerns about alleged abuse, what action they took, whether these actions were in line with the policies and procedures of the day, and whether those policies and procedures were adequate.
- Establish whether, where child sexual abuse was suspected: (1) it was reported to the appropriate bodies, including police and children department; (2) what action was taken by persons or other public bodies including the police; (3) whether this was in line with policies and procedures of the day; and (4) whether those policies and procedures were adequate.
Part 2: Recommendations
- Review fully present procedures and practices, and hear from appropriate individuals and representative and public bodies as to what their recommendations would be.
- Make full recommendations – including further primary and delegated legislation and statutory guidance – to ensure as far as possible that responses to such child sexual abuse as is identified by the inquiry never happens again.
- To make recommendations as to how criminal and family court proceedings can be co-ordinated and operate for the maximum benefit of the welfare of children (including how their evidence should be adduced in any civil or criminal court).
 I know that at present the inquiry is set up on a discretionary basis (ie not formally under Inquiries Act 2005). Most survivors would, I think, prefer to see the inquiry set up under the 2005 Act.
 This is the start date identified by the Jersey inquiry