The Home Office’s response to the open letter to Theresa May

Below is the Home Office’s response to the open letter to Theresa May which called for for Michael Mansfield QC to chair the child abuse inquiry and for the Terms of Reference to be revised. Read full letter here

Please note that no contact name was given, which is a slight change from the previous policy of using fictitious names such as ‘L.Smart’ (see A Visit to the Home Office).

 

Dear ______

Thank you for your letter of _ July to the Home Secretary regarding an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse. Your email has been forwarded to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit for a response.

Work continues to identify and appoint a suitable chairman and we will announce this as soon as possible so this important work can move forward. The membership of the panel will be a matter for the independent chairman who will be appointed shortly.

The Government is committed to tackling child sexual abuse and is very aware of the serious and often long-lasting effects of these terrible crimes on victims. The Government is clear that if a person has suffered sexual abuse, however long ago, and they go to the police about what they have been through, then we expect the police to do everything in their power to help those victims, and everything possible to investigate the complaint.

On 7 July the Home Secretary announced an inquiry panel into child sexual abuse. This inquiry will consist of a panel of experts and will consider whether public bodies, and other, non-state, institutions, have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry will consider all the information from the various published reviews and identify any issues or allegations requiring new or further investigation. It will advise on any further action needed to address any gaps or failings within our current child protection systems on the basis of the findings and learning from these reviews.

It will be a wide inquiry and will look not just at state institutions but at other bodies to see whether they have been protecting children appropriately. The inquiry panel will have access to all the Government papers, reviews and reports that it needs and will be free to call witnesses from organisations in the public and private sectors, and in wider civil society. The terms of reference will be published when they are agreed, and further information will be made available on how the panel will gather evidence in due course.

A progress report will be made to Parliament before the General Election. The Home Secretary has been clear that, if the Chairman concludes that formal inquiry powers are required, we will ensure the inquiry is converted to formal inquiry status.

In terms of lessons learnt, and as the Home Secretary stated in the House of Commons, the National Group that Norman Baker, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, is leading has already brought forward proposals on how the police and prosecutors could better handle these matters and it will continue with its work. That will feed into the work of the wider inquiry panel. As you will appreciate from the Home Secretary’s statement, the Government feels it is right to set this review up as an inquiry panel so that it can begin its work without jeopardising the criminal investigations taking place. It will look at what, if any, gaps there might be in our current work that mean we are not properly protecting children and, if there are any, what appropriate mechanisms could be put in place to ensure that those gaps are filled.

Thank you for writing about this very important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit

 

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4 comments
  1. It’s clear that it’ll be so wide ranging that it’ll be more than useless AND its an attempt to get those with power who have either committed this abuse or knowingly permitted it to happen off the hook “let’s spread the blame” is the plan. The plan should be to go after those at the top. This will ensure that they will not be able to interfere this time as they have in the past

  2. l8in said:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  3. Very interesting to read this, because I received precisely the same reply. My email focused upon how ‘apolitical’ the CSA Inquiry would be; which my own MP, Kerry McCarthy wrote me to say that she ‘agreed with especially’.

    I believe that a cross-party committee should appoint a shortlist of candidates to the Panel of the inquiry, whereafter they could nominate any extra members as needed, and appoint their own ‘Chair’. This would prove how committed the government are, to establish a truly independent process for justice.

    Incidentally, I also tried contacting the ‘Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit’, entirely without success. You are basically bounced out of putting questions to them, unless you’re prepared to write, with all the time wasting or refusals such communications inherently have. The government need to be very strongly challenged on this process, because they clearly have little regard for those who’ve been abused, for decades.

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