The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

On 7 July 2014, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales was announced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. The first two individuals appointed to chair the Inquiry, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf, both stepped down after accusations by abuse victims that they could not be impartial, due to various personal connections. In February 2015, IICSA was given the status of a 'statutory' inquiry, giving it powers to require sworn testimony and to have access to classified information. At around the same time, a New Zealand High Court judge, Dame Lowell Goddard QC, was appointed chair of the inquiry panel.

The inquiry opened on 9 July 2015. The first phase of work was to include twelve areas of investigation:

  1. Children in the Care of Lambeth Council
  2. Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils
  3. Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Council
  4. Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church
  5. Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church
  6. The Sexual Abuse of Children in Custodial Institutions
  7. Child Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools
  8. The Internet and Child Sexual Abuse
  9. Child Exploitation by Organized Networks
  10. The Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom
  11. Accountability and Reparations for Victims and Survivors
  12. Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Linked to Westminster

In May 2016, it was reported that police were expecting to receive as many as 30,000 new child abuse reports by the time the Goddard Inquiry had concluded. A further change of chair came in August 2016 after Justice Goddard announced her resignation from the role, citing the difficulty of relinquishing her professional and family ties in New Zealand, and the 'legacy of failure' that the inquiry had acquired. She also warned that the inquiry was 'too big, unwieldy and under-funded to succeed'. On 11 August 2016, it was announced that the inquiry would now be headed by Professor Alexis Jay, an existing member of its panel. The inquiry was now due to begin its hearings in March 2017. Another setback came on 30 September 2016, with the resignation of the inquiry's most senior lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC.