After seven years, 7,300 disclosures, 19 investigative reports and 20 recommendations in its concluding report, IICSA is coming to an end. So what happens now? Here are some of the changes NAPAC would like to see implemented in the short and long term.
Collaboration, survivor voices and mandatory reporting
IICSA has recommended a model of mandatory reporting which relies on disclosure from children or perpetrators. Although many feel that IICSA’s recommendation on mandatory reporting is too limited in its scope, it is a is a first step towards something that can be implemented and recalibrated further down the line.
We also advocate for continued collaboration between police forces, civil law firms, non-profits and healthcare professionals, with a focus on listening to survivor voices. At NAPAC, we constantly review, edit and create new support content for survivors based on what we hear from our support line, to ensure that our service accurately reflects their needs.
Innovation like this is reflected elsewhere as well – for example the law firm BBK recently took an unprecedented step in survivor support by establishing a therapy fund which allows clients early access to mental health support at no cost.
We must not lose sight of the overall scale of child sexual abuse, and the fact that the frontiers are changing. In recent years, instances of online child abuse have risen sharply. It is vital that the government works rapidly with tech companies, schools and charities to increase awareness, safety measures and support for anyone affected.
A widespread implementation of mental health services, survivor support and trauma-informed education
IICSA examined the responses of a broad range of institutions and organisations
to allegations of child sexual abuse. It considered a huge and complex picture to spot
similarities, patterns and any unique circumstances. As such, it is essential that the learning and momentum IICSA generated is not lost.
We know that more than 80% of IICSA’s recommendations have been accepted, and the government must now ensure that they are implemented. In IICSA’s Truth Project disclosures, 88% of respondents cited that the abuse had a negative impact on their mental health, with 45% reporting an illness or condition that affects their day-to-day life.
Bluntly, the needs of adult survivors are not being met. Many are on NHS waiting lists for limited sessions of CBT that are not long enough, and hundreds of survivors every year contact NAPAC to say they have been re-traumatised in a care or therapeutic setting.
Mandatory education in trauma-informed practice – founded on survivor voices – should be rolled out across healthcare, teaching, social care and police services. Survivors must feel confident that every time they go to a hospital appointment or report to a police officer that they will be believed and supported. Together, we all have an opportunity to make a difference to survivors who were failed in the past and to protect children at risk today.