Victims’ Commissioner speaks in House of Lords about child sexual abuse in football clubs

On Thursday 15 December the Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, delivered a speech to the House of Lords about child sexual abuse. Baroness Newlove participated in a debate that asked the government what action they are taking to respond to the multiple allegations of child sexual abuse within football clubs.

Baroness Newlove’ speech is below:

“As Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, I have found it very saddening to hear about this abuse. It is very courageous of everybody to come forward about what has happened to them. We must recognise their courage and not use it just to tell a story. I will keep my speech short and just ask when the Government are considering looking into investigating this child sexual abuse within football. I want to make sure that everybody co-operates and that health, schools, colleges and housing, to name a few areas, are involved. This has to be a seamless package, to ensure that all victims and survivors get the right support as we go forward.

“We must also ensure that we have enough practitioners qualified to assist survivors. Good intentions are laudable but, on their own, they are simply not enough. I know from working with NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood) that there has been a tenfold increase in abuse survivors coming forward. We need to ensure that we have quality training for support workers so that they can give the right support to abused survivors. This is only the beginning of the journey that they have spoken about – we have to ensure that their future is supported. This means that there will have to be money put into the pot, which must be from central funding. We cannot have a postcode lottery. All Police and Crime Commissioners have a purse for victims’ services but we cannot hide behind that. We must ensure that funding comes from central government to make sure that everybody has the same level of support as they go through their journey. Anything short of that is not good enough. Can the Minister ensure that there will be enough funding? We need to understand how to progress, but first and foremost we must make sure that survivors have access to that support.

“What saddens me today is that child sexual abuse is being talked about in a lot of areas. Everybody has different terms of reference but, as Victims’ Commissioner and a victim of crime myself, I do not want to see this issue placed in silos. We have a sexual abuse inquiry that is looking at establishments and we are also now looking at football associations, but what about the victims in all of this? We cannot work in silos. These victims have been very courageous in coming forward. This is not window dressing; it is these victims’ lives. We have to ensure that we create a happy, healthy sport where people can feel safe.”

The full debate can be accessed here.