The Goddard Inquiry – what you need to know

  • 05 Jul 2016
  • By Carolyn Eyre
  • 0

A national, public inquiry into non-recent organised or institutional child sexual abuse and the failure of institutions to protect children.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - or IICSA - is a national, full and wide ranging public inquiry into non-recent organised or institutional child sexual abuse and the failure of institutions to protect children. It commenced in 2015 and is expected to run until at least 2020.

There are three phases – a literature review, truth project (invitation to all victims & survivors to submit their stories) and then public hearings. There are five workstreams:

  1. Prominent public figures
  2. Education and religion
  3. Criminal justice and law enforcement
  4. Local authorities and the voluntary sector
  5. National and private service organisations

Within these, the first 12 investigations have already been announced – some of these are geographic and some are organisationally themed, for example children in the care of Lambeth or Nottinghamshire, the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, children sexually abused in residential schools. The inquiry will also commission research on children with disabilities / SEN.

No specific schools have been named yet. The public hearing phase will run as a series of modular inquiries, to which specific schools could be called to give evidence in the ‘education’ stream. These will often be selected because they have been linked to previous known cases of child sexual abuse. It is unclear how mainstream or non-residential schools could be drawn into the inquiry but even if not selected in the workstream, ANY school may still be called to give evidence if a victim or survivor identifies the school as a place where they were harmed or failed.

This is a statutory inquiry with wide ranging powers, including power to compel disclosure of documents and attendance of witnesses.

School leaders, whether they are aware of allegations of abuse made against staff in the past or not, should be fully prepared for press attention without warning.

If you are a local authority maintained school – or an academy or non-maintained school that buys services from the LA – the advice of your LA may supersede the suggestions below.

Issue Action / comment
Language

‘Historic’ will not be used at any time – instead, use ‘non-recent’
The inquiry will not look at cases still ongoing but will include any that have been resolved or closed even if they are recent
‘Victims and survivors’ to be used throughout – a recognition that those abused in childhood may prefer one over the other

Gather and secure evidence Collate all records for any known CSA allegation (except those still ongoing) made against a staff member and store them securely. The personnel file, notes of interagency discussions, minutes of LADO strategy meeting, disciplinary investigation bundle, letters to the member of staff, disciplinary hearing records, referral to DBS, etc. It is an offence to destroy, remove or tamper with these records. If you come across an allegation that appears not to have been dealt with appropriately at the time, contact your LADO for advice
Trawl old files / records Check back through old personnel files for allegations that pre-date current staff.
Check with the local authority Designated Officer Some LADOs will have access to records from many years ago. Yours may have details of – or can recollect – cases or concerns that occurred before your time.

File retention policy

Click for guidance from the Inquiry
Suspend your current policy on destroying records – the existing guidance has been that allegations against a staff member should be retained until retirement age or for 10 years if longer. This guidance is now superseded by the IICSA – NO files or records relating to allegations should be destroyed until Goddard inquiry is complete. Child protection files should be kept until the child reaches 25 years of age (if no social services involvement) or for 35 years if a referral to social services was made.
The law Failing to produce records requested by the inquiry is an offence punishable by imprisonment. It is also an offence to remove anything from, amend or tamper in any way with records that might be relevant to the Inquiry
If you have known non-recent cases, talk to your insurer It is anticipated that as the Inquiry gains public attention, more survivors and victims will come forward. Some may decide they wish to take legal action against individuals and institutions so insurers will wish to be prepared.
Log details of previous insurers Schools do change insurance companies. If a past pupil were to make a claim, the issue of whether this would be covered by your current insurer or the insurer at that time is complex. Gathering information about past insurers is not a requirement but may be wise if you believe there is potential for future claims
Prepare a public statement Whether your school has been called by the Inquiry or not, you could be pulled in to the media at any time and without warning, particularly if a victim or survivor names your organisation, an employee or ex-employee during the disclosure / evidence to the Inquiry stage. Have a media statement prepared in advance - your LSCB, LADO and/or legal advisers may help.
Prepare the staff Ensure all staff are aware of the potential for media interest during the Inquiry and give them clear dos and don’ts e.g. no public statements, caution regarding phone enquiries (journalists may pose as parents or prospective parents, etc) 
Talk to your legal advisors

For all the above reasons

Further advice / information

Schools should follow the advice of their LA safeguarding lead or HR provider. If you or your school belong to an association, you may be able to get further advice and support there. Unions may also be able to advise members.

Maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, etc will not be members of the Independent Schools Council but they have written a guide to the IICSA that you may find helpful.

Example case log:

Date of allegation Victim ref Accused ref Summary of allegation Outcome / action taken Additional info/comments
           

 

 

Carolyn Eyre -

Carolyn Eyre worked in the Local Authority safeguarding arena for many years, first in Education Welfare services before becoming Child Protection coordinator for a large authority with 265 schools. More recently, she was Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing for the authority - combining also the roles of Senior Allegations Manager and Safer Recruitment lead officer. As a member of the Safer Recruitment Consortium, Carolyn was involved in re-writing the national Safer Recruitment training material

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