The Bishop of Exeter asked a question regarding government plans to support institutions in responding to and organising redress for incidences of child sexual abuse on 24th October 2022, following the publication of a final report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter: My Lords, those of us who sit on this Bench, along with all on other Benches in your Lordships’ House, are deeply saddened and ashamed by the harm and suffering experienced by victims and survivors of abuse. I salute the courage of survivors in coming forward to share their stories. We are determined to learn from the mistakes of the past and make the Church as safe a place as possible. That is why we welcome this final report and are already embracing its various recommendations with, for example, the Church of England’s redress board, which has a victims and survivors working group. In this respect, what exactly is the Government’s intention? Is it their preference to support institutions, including the Church, in establishing individual redress schemes? Or is it their intention to create a new overarching external regulatory body in this respect?
Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): The right reverend Prelate obviously makes some good points. I will outline what the Government are doing to ensure that all sectors and leaders of society are working together to tackle child sexual abuse. In his opening speech in the other place, the Home Secretary comprehensively outlined the cross-party and multiagency dimension to all of this. We are transforming the way that local safeguarding agencies work together to ensure a more effective response in safeguarding children.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced significant reforms, requiring local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and chief officers of police to form multiagency safeguarding partnerships. All of the new partnerships were in place by September 2019, but we know that there are still improvements to be made to the quality and consistency of the local partnerships. We are working with local partners to understand and address those challenges in ensuring effective independent scrutiny, engaging with schools and other relevant agencies and distributing funding.
I reiterate that the Government are firmly committed to supporting all institutions that play a role in safeguarding children to develop robust safeguarding strategies that are carefully monitored, ensuring the safety and protection of children, regardless of where they live and spend their time.