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.


This child sexual abuse inquiry is set up within the terms of Inquiries Act 2005.[1] It is asked and directed to inquire into the following and to make recommendations:

Part 1: Past events

  1. 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.[2]
  2. Establish and define in what other circumstances of any type (eg in Rochdale, Rotherham and Westminster) child sexual abuse occurred.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Define all other relevant independent investigations and reports conducted in response to child sexual abuse issues in the period under review.
  7. 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.
  8. Identify how and by what means concerns about abuse were raised and how, and to whom, they were reported.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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

  1. Review fully present procedures and practices, and hear from appropriate individuals and representative and public bodies as to what their recommendations would be.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

David Burrows

[1] 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.

[2] This is the start date identified by the Jersey inquiry


  1. It would be helpful to see Terms of Reference include mainstream media’s role in child abuse concealment. There have been several examples of desperate abuse survivors going to the mainstream media only to be let down, or whistleblowers providing media with leaked institutional child abuse evidence only to be inexplicably ignored.

    In one Jersey case, a leaked, authenticated police affidavit was significant enough that it should have changed the way numerous abuse stories were reported, and without the threat of libel, but the media outlet involved refused to factually correct its own coverage or even offer any explanation as to why the issues contained were never addressed.

    The same mainstream media outlets which, for decades, ignored personal accounts of wide-scale abuse have been keen to air public comments that victims waited too long to come forward.

    Jersey’s current Committee of Inquiry is not examining this, nor is it addressing some of the vital issues previously implied from their initial consultations with survivors. Key witnesses and survivors who were disappointed to see the watering down of those Terms of Reference have not been provided with explanations, so the very expensive and long awaited Jersey inquiry is being met with less than optimum support and trust.

    The fierce retaliation against child abuse whistleblowers and honest, courageous police investigators is another area which is not receiving adequate inclusion, even though it is has been profound ingredient in the concealment of ongoing cover ups.

    An overarching national #CSAinquiry will still be needed for Jersey, too. As we’ve seen too many times, an inadequate inquiry with too-limited Terms of Reference can be as bad, or worse than, no inquiry. It’s imperative to get this one right.

  2. The main points I would like covered in the inquiry are as follows:-
    1. To look at public and private institutions with responsibility for childcare and child protection – including children’s homes, schools, social services, charities, the police, the judiciary and Westminster – and establish where, how and why these institutions have failed to protect children from being sexually abused.

    2. To identify failures by those institutions to provide adequate support to victims, survivors, witnesses and whistleblowers when they reported child sex abuse.

    3. To collect and record full details of allegations and evidence of incidences of child sex abuse facilitated, practiced, excused, protected and/or covered up by those institutions, or by individuals within those institutions, and to make these records available for subsequent criminal proceedings.

    4. To pay particular attention to the role of government whips and the security services in the facilitation, perpetuation and cover up of child sex abuse at Westminster and elsewhere.

    5. To make recommendations based on the inquiry’s findings:-
    – For a new more effective policy to support and protect CSA survivors.
    – For a new more effective policy and regulatory regime to support and protect whistleblowers and witnesses.
    – For the reporting of suspected child sex abuse to be made mandatory.
    – For how future concerns about CSA, and institutional responses to CSA, should be dealt with by all the relevant authorities, including Parliament, Government, the judiciary and the police.
    – For the continuation of the right to name suspected CSA abusers who have been identified by the police as under investigation.
    – For the setting up of a national, countrywide, joint police and social work team with specific responsibility for the investigation of organised and/or institutional child sex abuse – both historic and current.
    – For minimum standards for the resourcing and funding of the investigative team.

    Last but not least, I agree with Leigh’s comments about the role of the media in concealing CSA.

  3. I believe that tracking down and arresting those involved at the ‘lower levels’ of these crimes, i.e. the people who ran the children’s homes, those who supplied children etc, will be reasonably easy for the police if they truly have the will and are not hindered from on high. What will be difficult is gathering evidence against those from the highest levels of society. We know from past experience that they are more than willing to throw a few paedophiles to the wolves to protect those in high office. Someone needs to follow the money/property trail, they are clever but maybe not clever enough. We need something in place to stop/prevent intimidation of witnesses even if those witnesses are themselves evil b*******ds because it’s the only way you will get evidence on those sicko’s who have the protection of their influential friends in parliament/police/CPS. They are the ones who finance paedophilia, who have their pick of the children and sometimes quite literally get away with murder.

  4. That the enquiry should investigate and recommend a child focused programme of education in institutions and other establishments such as schools, hospitals, etc, so children are aware of appropriate and inappropriate behaviours from adults and older children with regard to grooming and befriending. To promote an environment where a child will adopt as a second nature to discuss with a recognised figure in the establishment any concerns they may have. That the recognised person is employed with skills to recognise possible abuse and for all employees to be aware that addressing concerns to this person will not result in their removal from employment, or in the case of the child removal from the establishment. To create a future environment where the child’s safeguard is paramount. (I think you get the gist of what I mean, sorry not I’m not an overly confident person)

  5. Pingback: A Fortnight in the Life of the Overarching Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry. Where now? | cathyfox

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