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World News

Bishop of Exeter presses the government on redress for victims of child sexual abuse

by Kelly Valencia

The bishop of Exeter has asked the government about the plans in place to support institutions in handling compensation for victims of child sexual abuse. 

It comes as the seven-year Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its final report earlier this month, concluding institutions and politicians prioritised reputations over the welfare of young people, meaning horrific acts were hidden away for decades. 

Speaking in the House of Lords, Rt Rev Robert Atwell, shared how the Church of England's redress board is already embracing the report's various recommendations. 

In that respect, he asked the government: "what exactly is the Government's intention? Is it their preference to support institutions, including the Church, in establishing individual redress schemes? Or is it their intention to create a new overarching external regulatory body in this respect?"

A new law making it compulsory for certain people working with children to report abuse or face criminal action, the creation of a Child Protection Authority, and a redress scheme to provide financial help for survivors of abuse, were among the recommendations outlined in the report.  

The Lord Sharpe of Epsom responded by reiterating the government's "firm commitment" to support safeguarding institutions.

He said: "In his opening speech in the other place, the Home Secretary comprehensively outlined the cross-party and multi-agency dimension to all of this. We are transforming the way that local safeguarding agencies work together to ensure a more effective response in safeguarding children.

"The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced significant reforms, requiring local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and chief officers of police to form multi-agency safeguarding partnerships. All of the new partnerships were in place by September 2019, but we know that there are still improvements to be made to the quality and consistency of the local partnerships. 

"We are working with local partners to understand and address those challenges in ensuring effective independent scrutiny, engaging with schools and other relevant agencies and distributing funding.

"I reiterate that the Government are firmly committed to supporting all institutions that play a role in safeguarding children to develop robust safeguarding strategies that are carefully monitored, ensuring the safety and protection of children, regardless of where they live and spend their time." 

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