#CSAINQUIRY – DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE III

This remains a draft. It is what I have incorporated into my original draft so far and from the comments which have been sent in. (The bullet points shoild be numbers; but WordPress converts Word numbers into blobs: sorry.)

 

Ultimately I should like to be able to state that specific individuals are willing to go along with the final draft. We can decide how names are collected in the next couple of days..

What follows would be put by the Government ministry responsible (Home Office or Ministry of Justice) to the inquiry. I hope everyone agrees it should be statutory judge and be chaired by a High Court (or higher: Court of Appeal or Supreme Court) judge.

TERMS OF REFERENCE OF CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY

This child sexual abuse inquiry is set up within the terms of Inquiries Act 2005 under the chairmanship of a suitably qualified judge (not below High Court level).

The inquiry 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.[1]
  • Establish and define in what other circumstances of any type (eg in Rochdale, Rotherham and Westminster) child sexual abuse occurred.
  • Define the organisations, institutions and any other establishments caring for children, where child sexual abuse has been alleged, in the period under review; and assess critically their administration (including recruitment and supervision of staff), management and governance.
  • Examine to what extent and why the current policy and regulatory framework has failed to protect children and bring to trial many of those who have sexually and otherwise abused children.
  • Conduct interviews with all survivors (or victims) of child sexual abuse (in such circumstances as to confidentiality as the individual witness may reasonably demand), thus to collect, record and fully document as much information as possible directly or indirectly from those directly affected by experiences of child sexual abuse.
  • Collect all evidence in whatever form the institutions listed above and, where these have been redacted, to ensure that they are opened initially in confidence with the inquiry; and in particular to collect and collate all evidence from those who reported abuse (‘whistle-bowers’).
  • 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; and consult with those representative and other bodies to ensure that their views and recommendations are incorporated into the work of the inquiry and its recommendations.
  • To consider the extent to which these inquiries should be co-ordinated and brought under the working of this inquiry; and, if appropriate to ensure that the workings of those inquiries be superseded by this inquiry.
  • 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
  • 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;
  • whether these systems are adequate; and
  • 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:
  • it was reported to the appropriate bodies, including police and children department;
  • what action was taken by persons or other public bodies including the police;
  • whether this was in line with policies and procedures of the day; and
  • 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.
  • Make recommendations as to whether – and if so how – the law should be reformed to make reporting of child sexual, and other forms of, abuse mandatory.
  • Make recommendations as to how institutional short-comings and criminal responsibility (especially amongst politicians, civil servants, police and schools) should be dealt with, both for past perceived failings, and how any failings should be dealt with in the future.
  • 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).
  • Make recommendations as to how survivors can be supported and assisted, for example, by health authorities; in giving their evidence in court; and in dealing with their abusers in later life.
  • Make recommendations on criminal sentencing in the event that it is known that an abuser may receive parole; and if so how parole boards should deal with such applications where the survivor and his/her family (if affected) are still alive.

David Burrows

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

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8 thoughts on “#CSAINQUIRY – DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE III

  1. David. Well done for doing this. I think there should be something in there about publishing everything. I think the Hillsborough one had something about this and now there is a tremendous archive. It should aim to publish all csa reports not published, as well as past inspection reports, local authority inquiries etc. There is a mass of information available but it is hidden from the public. Care must be taken that this inquiry is not used to stop every document from being released under FOI, as it is under this inquiry and thus an exemption can be used.
    Should there be some geographical reference to include Jersey , Northern Ireland, Scotland?.
    What about ability to look at MI5 files? vital for Kincora , and other institutions.
    Would what you have cover paedophilia on boats, an important consideration.
    Organised child abuse is the catch all term i think. Liz Davies may be worth approaching over this.
    kind regards

  2. Pingback: #CSAINQUIRY LETTER FOR HOME OFFICE ON DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE | dbfamilylaw

  3. This is along the lines of what I was thinking

    Appendix 1:Child Sexual Abuse Independent Panel terms of reference

    Child Sexual Abuse was and is a personal tragedy tens of thousands of people. As such, Government and local agencies in South Yorkshire are committed to maximum possible public disclosure of governmental and other agency documentation on events surrounding all child sexual abuse.
    The overarching organised child sexual abuse Panel has been appointed to oversee this disclosure process, consulting with the abused children, families and statutory agencies where necessary, and to carry out the associated activities outlined in the panel remit below.
    Exceptionally, the independent panel will be provided with access to child sexual abuse documentation held by Government and local agencies relevant to events of child sexual abuse.
    The fundamental principles will be full disclosure of documentation and no redaction of content, except in the limited legal and other circumstances outlined in a disclosure protocol.
    The remit of the independent panel will be to:
    oversee full public disclosure of relevant government and local information within the limited constraints set out in the accompanying protocol;
    consult with the abused children to ensure that the views of those affected are taken into account;
    manage the process of public disclosure, ensuring that it takes place initially to the abused victims and other involved parties, in an agreed manner and within a reasonable timescale, before information is made more widely available;
    in line with established practice, work with the Keeper of Public Records in preparing options for establishing an archive of child sexual abuse documentation, including a catalogue of all central Governmental and local public agency information and a commentary on any information withheld for the benefit of the families or on legal or other grounds;
    produce a report explaining the work of the panel. The panel’s report will also illustrate how the information disclosed adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.

    Protocol on Disclosure of Information
    1. This protocol sets out the disclosure arrangements for information relating to the overarching child sexual abuse panel
    Scope of information
    2. The scope of the disclosure process is intended to cover all documentation held by central government, local government and other public agencies that relates directly to events surrounding the child sexual abuse from 1950 to the present. The relevant agencies include the police, ambulance service, coroner, inspection agencies etc
    Archiving and Cataloguing
    3. In order to assist the work of the panel and in view of the volume of documentation, each agency holding relevant documentation will make arrangements for all papers in their possession to be archived and catalogued, prior to disclosure to the panel.
    Principle of full disclosure
    4. The fundamental aim is to provide full disclosure of documentation to the panel and, subsequently, to the victims of abuse and then the wider public, taking into account legal and other considerations set out below.

    Safeguarding of FOI
    The inquiry should not be regarded as an inquiry under the FOI Act 2000 (otherwise this could be used as an excuse not to release any reports or doumentation)

    Pre-1997 Government information
    5. Some information held by central government is covered by the convention on the release of papers of a previous administration (as set out by the Prime Minister on 24 January 1980). This does not apply to all information from before May 1997, but to documents indicating the views of ministers, such as Cabinet material or policy advice to ministers. The convention requires that such information cannot be disclosed without first consulting representatives of that administration.

    6. The Government will consult representatives of the previous administration about the release of information covered by the convention, and will release such information only in accordance with that convention.
    Exceptions to public disclosure
    7. The vast majority of information held by central and local government and other public agencies will be disclosed. A limited number of exceptions will apply, which for example are expected to include:

    (a) information covered by legal professional privilege;

    (b) information which public bodies are legally prohibited from disclosing (including information provided in confidence by third parties);

    (c) information indicating the views of ministers, where release would prejudice the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility.

    8. In all of the above cases, the decision to withhold information will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the holding agency. Wherever possible, information that cannot be disclosed to the public will be disclosed on a closed and confidential basis to the panel and a description of the information provided for public disclosure. Where disclosure to the panel is not possible (which will be the case for a very small number of documents), the holding agency will be asked if they could provide a description of the information for the panel which can be made available to the public in the same form.
    Redaction of individuals’ identities
    9. Where it is appropriate and necessary, it is expected that the Panel will recommend that the identities of certain categories of individuals will be redacted from information prior to disclosure to the public. These are expected to include the identities of:

    (a) members of the public who have provided written observations on events associated with abuse

    (b) civil servants who were not members of the Senior Civil Service at the time the document was produced;

    (c) police officers who were constables or other ranks up to and including sergeant at the time the document was produced;

    (d) other junior public employees who were not in a position to determine their agency’s response to events prior to, during or in the aftermath of the tragedy.

    10. Where individual identities are redacted, an indication of the individual’s position or status will be given to the public. In addition, where it is necessary to achieve consistency of identification, it is expected that the panel will recommend that individuals are given anonymised identifiers (for example, “officer A” or “official C”).
    Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council
    11. In any cases where the independent panel believes there to be a public interest in obtaining access to any withheld or redacted information, and where the holding agency disagrees, the matter will be referred to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (an independent body tasked to oversee decisions on the release of public documents). The Advisory Council will then provide independent, impartial advice on the reasons given by departments or agencies for retention of information.
    Consultation with victims and families
    12. The independent panel should consult and reflect the views of the child abuse victims when co-ordinating the publication of distressing or personal information regarding those who died.
    Public disclosure process
    13. The independent panel should ensure that disclosure takes place initially to victims and families and other involved parties, in an agreed manner and within a reasonable timescale, before information is made more widely available. No disclosure should take place to any other involved party before disclosure is made to the victims and families.

    14. It is expected that the disclosure process will take place on an incremental basis over a period of at least two years.
    Report on the work of the independent panel
    15. The independent panel will be responsible for producing a report on its work. The detailed content of the report will be a matter for the independent panel, but the government envisages that it will cover:

    (a) a description of the terms of reference and work of the panel;

    (b) an overview of the information reviewed by the panel and publicly disclosed;

    (c) an overview of the information provided to the independent panel on a closed basis, based on the summary description provided to the independent panel;

    (d) an overview of the withheld information, based on the summary description provided to the independent panel;

    (e) how the information disclosed adds to public understanding of child sexual abuse and its aftermath.
    Child Sexual Abuse Archive
    16. The independent panel should liaise closely with the Keeper of Public Records (who holds statutory responsibility to authorise a place of deposit as suitable for housing public archives) in making recommendations regarding options for establishing a designated child sexual abuse document archive, including such matters as the location, conservation and format of records to be retained in the archive.
    Confidentiality of closed information
    17. Information that is provided to the independent panel on a closed basis shall remain confidential to members of the independent panel and the secretariat and shall not be made public. Members of the independent panel will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding disclosure of that information.
    Secretariat and practicalities
    18. The work of the independent panel will be supported by a secretariat consisting of officials from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and The National Archives. The costs of the secretariat will be met by the Government.
    19. Members of the independent panel will receive a daily allowance at rates to be published, and repayment of actual travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with Home Office rules for senior civil servants.

  4. Pingback: #CSAINQUIRY: HOME OFFICE TERMS OF REFERENCE | dbfamilylaw

  5. Pingback: #CSAINQUIRY GROUNDS OF JUDICIAL REVIEW APPLICATION | dbfamilylaw

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

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