Home Secretary, Sajid Javid

privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

 

                                                                                                7th March 2019

Dear Sajid,

Call for the appointment of a Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse

I recently gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. I am writing to update you that while appearing at the session I called for the appointment of a commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse.

As you are aware, I have supported the need for IICSA from the outset. I have given evidence at their open hearings and welcome their interim recommendations. It gives victims and survivors the opportunity to be heard. It enables every one of us to learn the mistakes of the past and safeguard future generations of children. It offers encouragement to those who have suffered in silence that it is safe to come forward.

Nevertheless, that being said, it is absolutely crucial that we do not put on hold the immediate issues until the Inquiry has concluded. There are many much needed changes to the way adult survivors are supported.  We need to act quickly.

I’ve met many survivors of abuse and have been profoundly moved by their pain and sense of being let down by those who were meant to look after them. Their anger and frustration that they were not listened to is real and heartfelt.

I believe this needs to be driven by the centre. Currently, responsibility for survivors is divided across so many agencies as well as so many government departments.

We are about to appoint a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to perform the role of working across government, championing the needs of domestic abuse victims, auditing the support available and reporting to Parliament.  I so welcome. But do believe that there is an equally pressing need for a Child Sexual Abuse Commissioner, to perform exactly the same function. Such is the complexity and the scale of such a task, we cannot operate as we are at present.

The provision of services to support victims/survivors of child sexual abuse varies across the country – victims and survivors can face a postcode lottery, with the prospect of receiving excellent services in some places, but inadequate ones in others. Agencies, however well-meaning, often work in silos, leaving survivors constantly having to repeat their stories and battle to be heard.

I believe we need a CSA Commissioner, appointed by government and with statutory powers. This commissioner can champion the needs of victims and survivors, monitor the support on offer to them and hold the police and all other criminal justice agencies to account.

A CSA Commissioner can ensure the issues facing victims and survivors of CSA are at the centre of public debate, and that their voices are heard.

I really hope this is a proposal you are able to fully consider positively.

In line with usual practice a copy of this letter will be placed on my website.

Yours sincerely,

The Baroness Newlove of Warrington

Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales

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