Last month, seven long years after it began, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, or IICSA, concluded by publishing its final report. Established in 2014 in response to fears of a Jimmy Savile-style abuse scandal lurking among high-level Westminster politics, IICSA has spent years examining the story of child abuse in England and Wales, hearing survivor’s testimonies, gathering evidence and scrutinising institutional failures. Now the £186m inquiry has finished its work and published its call for change in a sober yet devastating 468-page document.
The church does not get off lightly. Of the 17 formal investigations IICSA carried out, an astonishing seven were focused on abuse linked to the church, including in-depth scrutiny of both the Catholic and Anglican Churches, as well as several church schools, bishops and dioceses. And among the horrifying accounts by victims are plenty from those who suffered at the hands of vicars and priests, bishops and monks. What did IICSA uncover about church-related child abuse? How will its recommendations affect churches? Did church authorities cooperate with the inquiry or does a culture of defensiveness still reign? And, perhaps most importantly, will IICSA cause any meaningful change for victims and survivors? This week, I’m joined by a safeguarding advocate, an abuse lawyer, and a survivor to talk about the end of IICSA, and what comes next.