IICSA’s final report first anniversary – the government is looking on and doing little
October 20th, 2023, brings the first anniversary of the publication of IICSA’s final report. The publication date coincided with the resignation of Liz Truss. As a result, it was largely wiped from media reporting on the day.
To mark this first anniversary, we have undertaken a review the Government’s progress on the recommendations in the last twelve months.
In summary, the Government’s response to IICSA recommendations 1-20 is as follows:
- 2, 3, 5, 14 & 15 have been rejected in effect
- 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 response promises nothing specific
- 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, nothing will be done pending formal or informal consultations
- 12 & 20 claimed to be addressed by Online Safety Bill, but the Bill does not mandate the use of specific technologies to protect children as recommended by IICSA.
So that means that for 18 out of 20 IICSA recommendations, no tangible action has been promised by government, and of the two recommendations where action has been promised, although both are claimed to be addressed by the Online Safety Bill the actual provisions of the Bill do not appear directly to match the recommendations.
Online safety is not the primary area of expertise for Mandate Now. We are consulting with experts and may publish a further article on whether the Online Safety Act achieves the effects recommended by IICSA, if not necessarily by the means proposed.
The government has promised no specific actions in response to the IICSA final report beyond what it already has in progress. Nothing. To our knowledge it is unprecedented for a public inquiry report to receive such disdainful treatment from a government.
IICSA Recommendation 1. A single set of core data relating to child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.
Unspecified improvements claimed to have been made already and govt will “be driving” further unspecified improvements. Nothing tangible to measure against
IICSA Recommendation 2: Creation of a child protection authority in England and in Wales.
Not going to happen. Instead going to follow the Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy.
IICSA Recommendation 3: Creation of a cabinet level minister for children.
Not going to happen. In government view Secretary of State for Education already fulfils this role.
IICSA Recommendation 4: A public awareness campaign on child sexual abuse.
No specific action promised, just that government “will continue to explore the most effective ways of raising awareness”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 5: A ban on the use of pain compliance techniques on children in custodial institutions.
Rejected. Instead, government says staff “must be trained in the use of safe pain-inducing techniques”. No proposal for how this training will be delivered.
IICSA Recommendation 6: Amendment of the Children Act 1989 to give parity of legal protection to children in care.
No commitment made on the specific point. Instead unspecified reforms will be made in the Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy. Nothing tangible to measure against
IICSA Recommendation 7: Registration of staff working in care roles in children’s homes.
No specific action. Instead “looking at how best to implement this as part of the Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 8: Registration of staff in young offender institutions and secure training centres.
No specific action. Instead, government are “exploring proposals for how it could operate.” Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 9: Extended use of the barred list of people unsuitable for work with children.
No specific action promised, requires “further assessment of feasibility and impact”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 10: Improved compliance with statutory duties to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service about individuals who may pose a risk of harm to children.
Nothing specific. Government “will work with the relevant bodies” Nothing tangible to measure against
IICSA Recommendation 11: Extending the disclosure regime to those working with children overseas.
No specific action. Government “will consider the scope of further strengthening the regime” Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 12: Mandatory online pre-screening for sexual images of children
Rejected in effect. Government has stated that the Online Safety Bill will include “duties for companies to identify and remove child sexual abuse content from their services” but has decided that it “would not be appropriate to mandate the use of pre-screening on services in scope of the Online Safety Bill”. At the time of writing, Royal Assent for the bill is imminent.
IICSA Recommendation 13: Introduction of a statutory requirement of mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse
No specific action pending “a full public consultation, beginning with the publication of a call for evidence”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 14: Compliance with Victims Code: government to commission joint inspection of compliance with the Victims’ Code in relation to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Response irrelevant to recommendation. Presumably this means it is rejected.
IICSA Recommendation 15: Removal of the three-year limitation period for personal injury claims brought by victims.
Rejected in effect. Instead govt “will consult on strengthening existing judicial guidance” and “set out options to reform limitation law”.
IICSA Recommendation 16: A guarantee of specialist therapeutic support for child victims of sexual abuse
No specific promise. Instead, government “will elicit views on the future of therapeutic support”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Recommendation 17: A code of practice for access to records pertaining to child sexual abuse.
No specific promise to implement. Government will “engage with the Information Commissioner’s Office on implementing this recommendation”. Nothing tangible to measure against.
IICSA Inquiry recommendation 18: Further changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
No specific action promised. Government “will consult on whether or not to amend the scope and time limits”.
IICSA Recommendation 19: National redress scheme for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation in England and Wales.
No specific action promised. Details “will be considered following extensive engagement”.
IICSA Recommendation 20: More robust age-verification requirements for the use of online platforms and services.
Rejected in effect. The government claims that Online Safety Bill requires all in-scope companies to assess whether their service is likely to be accessed by children & if so deliver safety measures. The Bill is technology-neutral on how children are prevented from accessing content harmful to them. Age verification is only given as an example of a possible method for achieving this. At the time of writing, Royal Assent for the bill is imminent.
The cost of delay and obduracy is the increasing number of children being sexually abused.