The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) analysed areas of public life where child protection failings had taken place, including in the care system in Nottinghamshire county and city.
A report, released on Thursday 20 October 2022, states that two Nottinghamshire councils missed chances to learn from their mistakes.
Victims and survivors say they hope that the IICSA inquiry will help to make children safer in there future.
Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council have already apologised for failings.
IICSA began its inquiry in 2015.
IICSA said that the reason Nottingham and Nottinghamshire councils were part of the inquiry is because of the high level of allegations of sexual abuse of children in their care over many years.
The care system in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire was one of 15 investigations to be conducted by the panel.
In this final report, IICSA made key recommendations, including a mandatory reporting law for workers who suspect abuse, a registration and training system for children’s home staff, and a national compensation scheme.
It said the councils had taken action to improve checks on carers in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, called for further action.
The report said the city council and its child protection partners “should commission an independent, external evaluation of their practice concerning harmful sexual behaviour” and set up an action plan “to ensure that any recommendations are responded to in a timely manner”.
Both councils were also recommended to “assess the potential risks posed by current and former foster carers” they provide, and ensure any provided by agencies are assessed.
“Any concerns which arise should be referred to the appropriate body or process, including the Disclosure and Barring Service ( DBS ), the local authority designated officer (LADO) or equivalent, the fostering panel and the police,” it said.
Colin Pettigrew, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Corporate Director for children and young people said:
“The publication of IICSA’s concluding report is a reminder of the courage of the victims and survivors who came forward during the seven years of the far-reaching national Inquiry and I thank the Inquiry team for its commitment to making sure their voices were heard and their experiences told.
“We have apologised unreservedly to the victims and survivors who suffered abuse whilst in our care.
“Ensuring they can also access help and support is vital and the county council and its partners continue to fund and commission support services, which are available seven days a week, for those who have been a victim of sexual abuse.
“We worked with the inquiry over three years and its report into children in the care of Nottinghamshire councils was published in 2019, with one recommendation for Nottinghamshire County Council.
“We acted swiftly to put that recommendation into practice and in publishing our response. Throughout our involvement, we were determined to listen to and to take on board the broader learning opportunities, seeking to develop and strengthen our practice where possible.
“The safety and protection of children in our care remains our highest priority at all times. As such, we are determined to support the Inquiry’s overall findings and to listen and respond to any recommendations for local authorities which may be set out in the concluding report.”
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its interim report focusing on the Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire councils in July 2019. The Inquiry has today (October 20, 2022) published its final report covering its 15 separate strands of investigation.
Nottingham City Council’s Director for People, Catherine Underwood, said:
“We have undertaken a great deal of work since IICSA took place four years ago. As well as addressing the Inquiry’s specific recommendations for Nottingham as acknowledged in today’s report, we have carried out some important improvements to the way we protect children in our care and support survivors of abuse in the past.
“We have worked with other agencies to strengthen safeguarding children partnership arrangements, focused on listening to children and adult survivors and equipping people in a whole range of organisations with the skills to recognise and respond to them when they raise concerns of abuse.
“Survivors told us that services weren’t meeting their particular needs, often waiting too long for support that didn’t adequately address their traumatic experiences. We have helped to establish, with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and other partners, specialist sexual violence support services which survivors themselves helped to shape. This provides specialist therapeutic counselling, practical support and access to mental health services which survivors tell us is a great improvement on what was previously in place.
“In terms of the Inquiry’s recommendations themselves, these focused on looking at dealing with harmful sexual behaviour between children and assessing the potential risk posed by current and former foster carers.
“We now have robust arrangements in place to identify and address harmful sexual behaviour. We commissioned the NSPCC to undertake an independent review into how we dealt with this issue, which recognised some local strengths but also helped us to identify areas for improvement. This includes recognising it in younger children and working with nurseries and schools, for example, to ensure people are equipped to respond. Among a range of other improvements, we have also established a multi-agency forum which meets on a monthly basis. They ensure that children and young people displaying or suffering from harmful sexual behaviour are responded to in a way that meets their needs.
“We also undertook a review jointly with Nottinghamshire County Council to go back over the last decade and look at any concerns with all foster carers we have placed a child with. We have updated procedures to reflect the learning from the Inquiry and to ensure robust oversight.”
Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Cllr Cheryl Barnard, said:
“We are sorry that we let survivors down in the past and remain committed to ensuring they get the support and help they need. We remain constantly vigilant to the potential harm that children in our care can be exposed to and while we are satisfied we have improved and strengthened our safeguarding arrangements, we can never be complacent.
“The lesson from IICSA is that it’s vital for us to have a transparent and self-challenging approach in order to do all we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in our care.”