1030 GMT November 20, 2019
Survivors of child sex abuse are often re-traumatized during what can be a “frustrating, hostile and ultimately futile” legal battle for justice through the courts, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found, The Independent reported.
Neither the criminal nor civil justice system effectively deliver the redress sought by victims, the report on the Accountability and Reparations branch of the IICSA revealed.
The inquiry heard how just 0.02 percent of criminal compensation orders (CCOs) — where a perpetrator pays money to the victim — made between 2013 and 2017 were in relation to child sexual abuse cases.
None of the victims who gave evidence said they had received CCOs at the end of court hearings. Many had not been told by police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that these existed.
Nigel O’Mara, a witness to the inquiry, both as a survivor of abuse and as a counsellor to survivors, explained how this had caused unnecessary suffering to countless victims of child sex abuse seeking justice and redress.
“This report is an indictment on the effect that the civil and criminal justice systems have had on victims of child sexual abuse,” said O’Mara, a veteran campaigner for survivors.
“It’s well known that a psychological legacy of child sexual abuse is to lower someone’s self-esteem and make them feel worthless, especially if they are not believed. This is only compounded by the criminal justice system and the civil justice system.
“People spend years going through litigation, ending up with nothing or next to nothing while constantly being re-traumatized by having to relive the events again and again.
“Criminal compensation orders were made in 124,835 criminal cases in 2017. That year, despite 6,861 child sex abusers being convicted, only 26 criminal compensation orders were made for their victims.
“Perpetrators aren’t being made to pay for their crimes.”
The inquiry report recommended that police should “draw the possibility of compensation to a victim’s attention and gather the necessary information.”
Inquiry chair Professor Alexis Jay said, “For victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, the suffering does not stop when the abuse ends. In our investigation we found that the criminal and civil court proceedings for redress can be frustrating, hostile and ultimately futile.
“Many are left re-traumatized and deeply unsatisfied with the often lengthy and confusing litigation. Equally concerning is the lack of clear signposting for the compensation and support which survivors could be entitled to.”