Tues 25 Nov 2014: A variety of different survivor and interest groups met with Theresa May MP to discuss the National Inquiry into Institutional Abuse. (Now known as the IICSA.) Attendees included MACSAS, The Survivors Trust, TST Cymru, Survivors UK, NAPAC, One in Four and NWG together with Victim Support, ACAL and Rape Crisis England and Wales.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Inquiry and the selection process for the Chair, with the agenda set by the Home Office.
Theresa May explained that a series of meetings with individual survivors, survivor groups and other interested groups have been taking place including Skype meetings.
We were told that over 100 names have been put forward by groups and individuals as suggestions for who should Chair the Inquiry. It will take around six weeks to complete the government checks and bring this number down to a small number of potential candidates for the role. This process will include consideration of work experience, background, clear DBS checks, experience specific to working with survivors and also ability to manage an Inquiry of this size. The potential Chair will also meet with the Home Affairs Select Committee before a final announcement is made.
Once the Chair is appointed and the basis of the Inquiry has been established, the Inquiry will take about nine months to scope out the size of the work needed and the institutions and organisations that will need to be included in the Inquiry.
We were also told that because the Inquiry needs to be independent, the methodology that the Inquiry will take, which will be led by the Chair, cannot be finalised until all appointments have been confirmed. The Panel needs to be a manageable number and the proposal is as work progresses to establish advisory groups to support the Panel. Once established the Inquiry Panel will decide how advisory groups are set up.
We were told that feedback from survivors and survivor groups has been taken on board that the inquiry should be put on a statutory basis.
Concerns were expressed very strongly by MACSAS and The Survivors Trust about some current members of the Panel and, again, we were told that these concerns had been heard and would be followed up.
The Home Secretary confirmed that they are actively looking at support issues and what needs to be put in place for survivors. Mandatory reporting is also an issue that is being considered. One of the aims is to bring about a change in culture so that there is increased awareness of how to respond appropriately to disclosures of abuse.
The Home Secretary acknowledged that mistakes had been made but restated her sincere commitment that the Inquiry will go ahead and will address structures and processes that have concealed abuse and failed to protect children.
We’ll update on any future meetings and information as we find out.