On 7th July 2014 the Home Secretary Theresa May announced the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales. The inquiry was set up to examine how government and other institutions had handled their duty of care to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) would like to stand alongside the White Flowers campaign and the many survivors and professionals who have petitioned the government to disband the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry and replace it with an inclusive and representative body that has the necessary powers.
BASW believes it is essential for the voices of survivors, whistleblowers, campaigners and concerned members of the public to be listened to and scrupulously attended to.
The social work profession plays a considerable role in safeguarding children, and BASW is very aware of the organisational and power systems which have tolerated and masked the long term abuse of children.
BASW supports the call for a new inquiry with legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath and to prevent evidence being withheld or tampered with. These recommendations will establish further transparency and credibility of processes.
Extending the terms of reference to include allegations of historical abuse prior to 1970 will enable the inquiry to be comprehensive, robust and deliver justice for the many survivors.
This inquiry has UK-wide significance and must be above reproach in order for confidence in the process and panel to be achieved.
BASW wants the Westminster Government to get this inquiry right – it is only by acting on these very real concerns that social workers and other professionals with a duty of care can learn from the mistakes of the past and better safeguard vulnerable children from sexual abuse. If this inquiry can be run well it will also assist countries around the world where similar cases of historic child sex abuse are being investigated.
BASW UK Chair