Policy Changes

It is clear that there is a need for major policy changes to diminish future abuses, and especially to remove the immunity that VIPs - politicians, civil servants, police, security services, churchmen and other Establishment figures - have been enjoying.

The policies suggested here are offered to stimulate thinking and debate, and not as a finished set of absolute prescriptions.

These points are made in a letter to MP.
See also: The Campaign

1 Overarching Inquiry

We need one single overarching inquiry with the widest possible remit to follow all leads wherever they may take the inquiry, and irrespective of how senior and important the suspect may be. The inquiry will need a disinterested judge who is not embedded in the Establishment to lead the inquiry. Michael Mansfield QC is the best candidate. There is also a need for one or two survivors of abuse to be on the panel of the inquiry. The preliminary report should be published at least one month before the General Election in 2015.

In order to facilitate the process of the inquiry an amnesty should be offered to witnesses (Civil Servants, officials etc) who have been accomplices in past cover-ups. This amnesty is to be superseded at the end of the inquiry by the more rigorous laws and penalties for assisting in cover-ups which are being put forward by NSPCC and Labour. This stick-and-carrot approach will encourage witnesses who would otherwise hold back out of fear for offending powerful people.

The Official Secrets Act should be suspended for witnesses so that MI5 officers and others can give full evidence.

The inquiry should look at the methods and conclusions of Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. It should also learn from best practices in other countries.

2 Disciplinary bodies for government office holders
Professionals in law and medicine have a governing body to set and enforce professional standards. There seems to be no such bodies for government officers and elected members. Instead, inquiries are set up on an ad hoc basis in response to problems. Consideration should be given to the idea that standing bodies should be set up to enforce standards for government officers and elected members.

3 Remove term "Child Prostitutes" from 2003 Sexual Offences Act

Underage children are not "prostitutes". They are victims of criminals.

4 Abused people as witnesses

One of the central problems in the judicial approach is that abused people, especially those who were brought up in children's homes, are not "good witnesses". As a result of the circumstances of their upbringing and their abuse they have low self-esteem, low self confidence, are often not good communicators and are poorly socialised. Some (about 13%) have criminal records.

In court, it is easy for a barrister from a privileged background, public school and university education, a professional familiarity of Court procedure and a supercilious manner to reduce these witnesses to tears and destroy their credibility.

In the case of child witnesses and rape victims, courts have now managed to understand the asymmetry of this situation, and children are now able to testify via video links and personal, one-to-one interviews with the judge, although the facility is under-used. As a result of pressure, the Government has gone some way to improve the court experience for vulnerable witnesses.

There is a good case to be made to allow survivors of child abuse to be offered this privilege by making an "Application for Special Measures". This means that the survivor may be screened from public view and from their abuser, or placed in a different room.

In some ways, survivors are still children, since their maturation process has been disrupted by the abuse.

This privilege can be compared to a similar privilege available to security service operatives, who are sometimes allowed to testify in court from behind a curtain.

There is a 12-month limit on the ability of some survivors of child sexual abuse to make a report. Here is a petition asking for the limit to be removed.

DPP realises there is a problem, offers inadequate help.

Effective psychological help for survivors of abuse must be provided.

Polygraph recordings and allied technology to help detect paedophilia.

There is pressure to cast doubt on the validity of witnesses of abuse.

5 Institutions caring for children

Child abuse - physical, sexual, emotional or neglectful - can occur in any setting including the family home, but the opportunity is more acute in institutions where children are available 24/7 to people who have no family connection with them. All residential institutions for children, including boarding schools are subject to inspections by Ofsted.
Ofsted Correspondence.

The system of care home inspections must be thoroughly reviewed. Unannounced inspections must be used frequently. Inspectors must be available to talk one-to-one with any child who wishes, or whom they decide to speak to. They will be trained in reading body language and sub-text in verbal communication, and have powers to move any child to a place of safety immediately if they think it necessary.

Reporting of children with behaviour or symptoms suggesting they are at risk should be mandatory Petition here.

Technology should be considered as an aid to detection of abuse.
Investigative procedures for detecting sexual arousal in response to images of children, including penile plethysmography (where any tendency of the penis towards arousal is detected) for "carers" suspected of abuse should be considered.

Homes where abuse is suspected could be fitted with CCTV cameras.

These measures may be considered contentious, but put into the framework of the immense failure of the care system, they are surely worthy of consideration.

There is a clear need for social work departments, especially those with responsibility for child protection, to have their establishments expanded so as to reduce case loads.

6 Care for abusees and survivors

Psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and doctors must be made more aware of the possibility that past (or present) sexual abuse may lie behind their patient's condition.
Supportive counselling must be made freely available for survivors, but fortified with CBT and specific brief and effective techniques for treating their condition.
A compensation fund to assist in economic difficulty should be considered.
Petition for a single agency to support survivors.

Effective psychological help for survivors of abuse must be provided on the NHS as extra funding.

John Penrose MP has suggested that Public Health or the Royal College of Psychiatrists should collaborate in finding out what is the most effective therapy for survivors, and the best way of rolling out a service. Exploratory emails have been sent 7/11/14.

Here is a petition requesting psychological support services for survivors.

7 Treatment for Paedophiles

Voluntary treatment facilities must be made available for people, especially teenagers and young adults, who are worried to find that they have paedophile inclinations.
Treatment is offered at the Portman Clinic.

Convicted abusers must be given intensive and effective treatment. Up to now, the only treatment offered has been psychotherapy ("talking therapy"). There is little evidence of its effectiveness, and it is offered to only a small proportion of offenders.

There is some evidence that hormonal therapy is effective in controlling paedophilic motivation, and this is beginning to be trialled in the UK.

Prison release of convicted child abusers should be followed always by whatever treatments are most effective for that individual. Polygraphs are being tested.

They should have restricted internet access.
Lifetime GPS monitoring should be considered.
There should be no private unsupervised child contact by convicted paedophiles.

See also this page, on managing paedophilia

8 Peoples Tribunal

This is a proposal to set up a Tribunal to examine the evidence independently from any official enquiry. There are precedents in the Russell (or International War Crimes) Tribunal and the Iran Tribubal It would work in parallel with any official inquiry.

The idea is supported by Prof John Cooper QC, who writes about it here.

There is a Facebook discussion page on the PT here.

9 Prevention and education

Educating the child about body safety
Volunteer action to educate children about abuse.
1in6 - Help for men who have been abused
Victim Support
Survivors Trust
Voices for Truth
Brilliant CEOP vid about Facebook security.

See also Blogs and websites.

End child Trafficking
Petition here.

Tighten law so that abusers cannot live in close vicinity of their victims
Petition here

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