THE first substantive public hearing in the Anglican strand of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will not take place for another 15 months, the Inquiry has announced.
In a report of the internal review, conducted after the appointment of Professor Alexis Jay as IICSA’s fourth chair (News, 12 August), the IICSA says that the first public hearings in the Anglican strand will focus on the diocese of Chichester, and will begin in March 2018.
The inquiry is conducting seven separate investigations, including one that it has called “the Anglican Church” — with reference to England and Wales. This is one of the IICSA’s largest investigations: of the 86,000 pieces of documentary evidence received for all seven investigations, almost one third — 27,000 — are for this strand.
“The majority of these [documents] have been provided by the Archbishops’ Council, which is providing materials on behalf of the various Dioceses,” the IICSA said in its review report.
“Materials have also been sought and received from a number of individuals and institutions, including police forces, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Charity Commission and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office.”
The IICSA said that it will begin requesting formal witness statements about the diocese of Chichester in the next few months.
A separate public hearing will be held later, covering issues relating to Peter Ball — a former Bishop of Lewes and then Gloucester, who is currently serving a prison sentence, having been convicted of child abuse (News, 9 October 2015) — and the wider Anglican Church.
The inquiry will hold its first substantive public hearings in February, when it will look at child migration.
A public hearing about the English Benedictine Congregation — part of the IICSA’s investigation into abuse in the Roman Catholic Church — will take place next December.
The Inquiry will produce its first interim report in April 2018, and make “substantial progress” towards completing its work by 2020.
“The Inquiry has two equally important tasks — to examine closely whether institutions have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children and to make meaningful recommendations for change,” Professor Jay wrote in her foreword to the report.
“We must do this within a reasonable timescale. Children are being abused and exploited today — we cannot wait until the Inquiry has concluded before it has a positive impact on their lives.”