Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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National Child Sex Abuse Investigation must deliver practical benefits to help survivors

by Garth Harkness on 21 October, 2020

Oldham Liberal Democrats are seeking to ensure that the findings of the Home Office-sponsored Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) deliver practical benefits for survivors of abuse, and are implemented in councils and the care home system. The investigation is due to finish hearings into the systematic exploitation of children by organised networks on October 29.

The Liberal Democrat group on Oldham Council initially wrote to the Investigation to ask whether or not it would actively engage with the investigation in Oldham. They were told that it was looking at six other areas across the UK which had been chosen to represent a range of sizes, demographics and institutional practices, and it had not seen that it was necessary to liaise with the Oldham investigation.

The Liberal Democrats responded to confirm that the investigation currently taking place in Oldham is looking at the same areas as the IICSA investigation, and requesting they ensured that any outcomes were communicated to the Council, so that any conclusions that applied could be implemented quickly and effectively.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “As the Home Office-sponsored investigation chose not to look at cases such as those in Rochdale and Oldham directly, it is vital that we do still see outcomes that will help shape our Councils’ and communities’ response to these types of crimes.

“It is crucial that the Council learns lessons not just from the local investigation, but also from any institutional failings that have been found across the UK,” he continued. “We must ensure that survivors know that they can come forward in confidence, be heard, and know that they will be properly investigated. Our institutions must not repeat any previous mistakes.”

A separate investigation into effective leadership of child protection is due to hold its hearings in December, and again, any findings must be communicated directly to the Council to ensure that best practice can be taken forward.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Oldham Council Howard Sykes MBE added: “We have written to the Chief Executive of the Council to ensure that they are looking to incorporate the findings of the Home Office investigation into their own practices. The independent investigation currently taking place will no doubt deliver a number of ways in which we need to improve, but it is vital that we do not stop there. We must listen to this investigation, to charities who work in this sector, and most importantly, to the survivors of sexual violence, to ensure that they get the support they need, and the perpetrators of such crimes receive the punishment they deserve.”

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