The Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL) has criticised the government’s report (31 Oct) into abuse in children’s homes, saying it brands survivors of abuse as liars and will stop some from reporting crimes in the future.

ACAL says the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into alleged false allegations of child abuse has reached incorrect conclusions because of the type of evidence it called.

It says the inquiry failed to talk to the survivors of abuse, instead relying on pleas of innocence from those who had been prosecuted and their families.

Reacting to the government report, it says:

  • Whilst ACAL deplores any miscarriages of justice and encourages any changes in the law, it must not discriminate unfairly against survivors of abuse from the care system.
  • ACAL is concerned that people accused of abuse could be granted anonymity in the future; it says this is unfair as it amounts to giving privileges to the accused. If there is to be any change to the law it should apply at the very least to all types of sexual offence, and not discriminate wrongfully against the survivors of abuse in children’s homes
  • The police “trawling” system (so called) has been essential to uncover widespread child abuse in our care system, and has been satisfactorily regulated since its inception. Government
    interference is not necessary.
  • Any suggestion that survivors are motivated by greed is an insult to their testimony and is likely to discourage openness in an area that desperately needs to encourage disclosure.
  • The Criminal Injuries Compensation system clearly does not provide a proper system of just rewards for the survivor of sex crimes, and urgently needs reform.
  • Compensation for the survivors paid by those responsible is essential to put right the wrongs committed by the establishment in a care system.
  • The Committee selected too much witness evidence from the false allegations lobby and failed to call any evidence from survivors of abuse.
  • The Committee have accepted evidence from many convicted abusers who say they were falsely accused and impugned the credibility of survivors who allege abuse in the same way that the owners of children’s homes behaved many years ago when children made complaints and were ignored.
  • The Committee’s suggestion that substitution of the Civil Court compensation System with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority offends Human Rights legislation

“We are very angry that the rights of the genuine abuse victims have not been given enough attention by the committee. We are concerned that this report will discourage survivors from coming forward”, says Peter Garsden of Abney Garsden McDonald solicitors, Vice-President of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers)