Co-chairing the inquiry into child sexual abuse

We’re reaching a turning point in acknowledging and addressing child sexual abuse, says Jon Brown

The 2-year Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment began in July 2014, and we’ve been a member of the Inquiry panel since the start. We’ve been involved in the monthly meetings, site visits and work with the University of Bedfordshire on research about the experiences and perspectives of children and young people who have been sexually abused.

Sue Berelowitz has led the inquiry with skill focus and determination over the last 12 months. Although it was decided that she could no longer chair the inquiry, we were determined that its important work should continue. So, when Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, asked me if I could assist by co-chairing I was happy to accept.

What is the inquiry into child sexual abuse?

The 2-year Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment began in July 2014. It's an important piece of work that will:

Determine the scale and nature of sexual abuse in the family in England
This will include minority ethnic, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), disabled and other minority groups of children and young people. It will estimate the prevalence of sexual abuse which is detected and undetected by statutory agencies.

Assess practice for prevention and response
The inquiry will review inter-agency and individual practice for preventing and responding to this form of child sexual abuse in England, and its impact on children and young people

Recommend improvements in identification and prevention
As part of the Inquiry, we will make recommendations for improving identification and prevention of child sexual abuse in the family and child protection and law enforcement responses.

An interim report will be published towards the end of this year.

Reaching a turning point

There's been an incredible focus on child sexual abuse in the media over the last few years - and it now feels as though we may be reaching a turning point in terms of both acknowledging and addressing the issue as a nation.

"The Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse set up by the Children’s Commissioner has played a major part in exposing the extent of this cancer in our society and more importantly galvanizing the relevant agencies into tackling it at source. It played a major part in reinforcing the extent of the problem with Government and helping formulate the Chid Sexual Exploitation Action Plan launched in 2011 which has done so much to coordinate a robust response by police, social services, health and others working together. The approach of the Inquiry in leaving no stone unturned, however shocking the results, has been a key factor in its effectiveness with important results still to come."
Tim Loughton / MP

The inquiry has already gathered a huge amount of valuable evidence from authorities who are charged with protecting children. And that's being added to by the evidence collected from adult survivors and children. The Inquiry team are dedicated to ensuring that this is used in the most impactful way to protect children from abuse and harm today.

"Child sexual abuse is one of the most critical modern day issues that needs to be addressed. I am determined to tackle it through my important inquiry and have asked Jon Brown at NSPCC to co-chair it with me. He has taken over from the former chair, Sue Berelowitz. We know that 600,000 children in England have been or are currently being sexually abused, the vast majority in the family context. There is evidence that many are not receiving the vital help and support they need, nor being made safe. We are determined to make sure they are by learning from the experiences of children and adult survivors.We will publish the ground-breaking evidence and findings of the inquiry in the autumn, alongside recommendations to make sure children are better protected."
Anne Longfield / Children's Commissioner for England