THE Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded its public hearings after taking evidence from more than 600 witnesses over four years to inform its 15 simultaneous investigations.
The hearings have resulted in 14 reports so far, including two on the extent to which the Church of England and the Church in Wales failed to protect children from abuse (News, 9 October 2020; 10 May 2019). A third report on the Anglican Church is due next summer, as well as four on other investigations. The Inquiry has also investigated the Roman Catholic Church (News 10 November), religious organisations and other settings, and Westminster.
The Inquiry, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, has held 323 days of public hearings, and disclosed 24,565 documents totalling more than 590,000 pages. It has heard evidence from 648 witnesses, of whom 94 have been victims and survivors. The last hearing, on Effective Leadership of Child Protection, was held last Friday.
The Inquiry’s Truth Project, which has heard from more than 5300 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse (News, 14 August), is to close in 2021.
In her closing statement on Friday, Professor Jay thanked each witness, especially “complainants, victims, and survivors of child sexual abuse who gave us their powerful testimony. Almost 100 gave evidence in person and many more provided important written statements, which will help us make recommendations to better protect children in future.
“A vast amount of work has gone into making these hearings possible over the last four years, including earlier this year, when we became the UK’s first public inquiry to hear evidence in a virtual setting following the outbreak of Covid-19. While this is a significant milestone for the Inquiry, we still have a busy programme of work to complete in the coming year. This will cover research and investigation reports, which will all contribute to our final report.”