Having recently promised to deliver a new strategy  for the Child Abuse Inquiry “within a few weeks”, Professor Jay powered ahead and produced that strategy yesterday.

Professor Jay has always been adamant that the Inquiry’s scope would not be limited, and she has stayed true to her word. Whilst the Chair will be reducing the number of public inquiries taking place, she will not be limiting investigations or changing the terms of reference.

In the document, the Chair for the nation’s Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, outlines a new format for investigating non recent, and recent child abuse which divides the Inquiry into four strands:

  • Cultural: This strand will examine the attitudes, behaviours and values within institutions that have so far prevented the UK from stopping child sexual abuse.
  • Structural: This looks at the legislative, governance and organisational frameworks within and between institutions.
  • Financial: This has been added to consider the financial, funding and resource arrangements for institutions and services that are relevant to the Inquiry’s investigations.
  • Professional and political: This strand will focus on leadership, professional and practice issues for those working or volunteering in relevant institutions.

In a statement on the Inquiry website, Professor Jay said:

“I want to focus on prevention without neglecting the past.  Lessons have to be learnt from institutional failures and any cover-ups that have come to light.  Only in this way can we look to the future with confidence.  I regard calls for us to forget the past with a degree of scepticism, not least because some institutions may have the most to hide and a vested interest in not turning a spotlight on what happened in the past.  We will remain vigilant for other issues that may arise but this framework will provide the right basis for planning, prioritising and delivering the Inquiry’s work.”

“A significant amount of work has been completed in relation to the review.  If we form the view that change to our existing investigations may be necessary, we will ask the relevant core participants, and any others who are directly affected for their views, before any decision is taken.

“I believe that concerns that our Terms of Reference cannot be delivered are founded on an assumption that we must seek to replicate a traditional public inquiry in respect of each of the thousands of institutions that fall within our remit. We will do so for some, but we would never finish if we did it for all.

“Our approach is intended to fulfil the commitment I made on my appointment – to ensure that the Inquiry is driven forward with pace, confidence and clarity.  By doing so, the panel and I believe that we can make substantial progress towards completing the Inquiry by the end of 2020.”

Professor Jay says she wants to produce a report which will focus on the underlying issues and this thematic approach, looking at child sexual abuse through the strands above, she hopes will achieve this. The Inquiry Chair has also pledged to make the Inquiry’s work more visible and accessible.

The new strategy can be accessed in full, here.