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Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: Final Report

Volume 824: debated on Monday 24 October 2022


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

“With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. Last Thursday, the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was published. It concludes seven years of investigation into institutional failure across England and Wales to protect and safeguard children from child sexual abuse.

I want to thank the chair of the inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay, and her whole team for their fearless dedication and commitment in uncovering generations of horrendous societal, professional and institutional failings. I have written to Professor Jay and want to meet with her in the coming weeks to discuss her findings.

Above all, I want to extend my profound gratitude to the thousands of victims and survivors who have come forward to share their testimonies and experiences with the inquiry. That took immense courage. We will honour that courage by keeping their voices front and centre in everything we do and in overseeing a radical improvement in how this crime is dealt with and prevented. The whole House will be deeply moved by the reasons that victims and survivors gave for wanting to share their stories. They wanted their experiences to be acknowledged, to be listened to and to be taken seriously; they wanted to protect other children from suffering as they have suffered. Yet they also wanted not to be defined by this experience and to find, as one survivor put it, “life after abuse”. Madam Deputy Speaker, they are heroic.

Nothing—nothing—is more wicked than hurting a child, and there is no worse dereliction of duty than failing to protect a child. The report reveals horrific abuse of children. It makes for devastating and distressing reading. It finds that organisations have put their reputations ahead of protecting vulnerable children—either turning a blind eye or actively covering up abuse. That is inexcusable.

I am a father of three children and this report has made for very difficult reading. I cannot imagine the pain that victims have been through. Madam Deputy Speaker, I say this on behalf of the Government and all Governments who came before: to all the victims who have suffered this horrendous abuse, I am truly sorry.

The inquiry heard from more than 7,300 victims and survivors. It investigated abuse over not only the last seven years but several decades. The report makes a wide range of recommendations, including greater accountability, increased reporting, better redress for victims, an increased focus on bringing the perpetrators of these abhorrent acts to justice, and a stronger voice from government on this issue. The Government will take all these recommendations, and the insights provided by brave survivors, seriously.

Getting this right will mean everyone redoubling their efforts and working more closely together—all of government, the police, the health and care system, local authorities, schools, and all other interested parties. I will convene meetings with Ministers across Whitehall to drive that change. Our new child protection ministerial group, set up following the care review, will champion children’s safety at every level and provide the leadership to oversee vital reforms across children’s social care. Several government departments have been core participants in the inquiry, and we have been working to respond in real time to recommendations already made during the course of the inquiry.

The actions that we have taken include the Government’s tackling child sexual abuse strategy, published in January last year; driving initiatives to increase reporting of this too often hidden crime, including awareness-raising campaigns, and to improve the confidence and capabilities of frontline professionals to identify and respond to child sexual abuse; ensuring that education and safeguarding professionals are better equipped and supported in identifying harmful sexual behaviours and protecting children from peer-on-peer abuse and harm; targeting offenders by investing in the National Crime Agency, GCHQ and new technology, and by giving the police stronger powers; and providing better support to victims—committing to a new Victims Bill and increased funding for specialised support services.

The conclusion of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse marks the end of a vital period of reflection and learning. It must also mark the start of the next chapter in how society confronts and defeats this evil. Nothing must be allowed to get in the way, be it inertia, misplaced cultural sensitivities, indifference, self-interest or cowardice from those whose job it is to protect children.

In fact, it is the job of every adult to do all they can to protect children. Anything less is a profound moral failing, let alone a professional or institutional failing. Walking by on the other side is never acceptable. Would-be abusers need to know that they will be caught and punished. Victims need to know that it is never their fault and that they will be heard and protected.

I have laid a copy of the inquiry’s report in Parliament. It is only right that the Government now take time to carefully consider its findings and recommendations in full. We will respond comprehensively and in line with the inquiry’s deadline, but let me make a promise now: I will use all available levers to protect our children and right the wrongs exposed by the inquiry’s findings. I will do all in my power to improve how law enforcement and the criminal justice system respond to child sexual abuse. I will work with my ministerial colleagues and across party lines to hold organisations to account, bring perpetrators to justice, and support victims and survivors with compassion and total care.

Where we can act more quickly, we will. That is why we have already announced that, through the support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse fund, we are allocating up to £4.5 million over three years to seven organisations to support victims and survivors. The fund is only the start in addressing the inquiry’s recommendations but it is another step towards ensuring that we are providing vital support for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse, adult survivors, and parents and carers of victims. It is also just one part of the more than £60 million a year that the Home Office is investing in tackling this crime.

Child sexual abuse is a terrible but preventable crime, and we must prevent it. We will do so with the recommendations of this inquiry in front of us and the words of heroic survivors ringing in our ears. I commend this Statement to the House.”

I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. I join him in paying tribute to the 7,300 victims and survivors who gave testimony to the inquiry, and who have shown great bravery and strength in telling their stories; but there will be many thousands of other victims who did not feel able to come forward. I hope they too will feel that this report is a substantial and serious attempt to understand the extent of institutional failure to protect children over many decades.

This report, seven years in the making, is of immense importance. It offers practical solutions and a solid, rational oversight of a crime that is alternately ignored or sucked into conspiracy theories, which we see through organisations such as QAnon. The report shows the true banality of evil, and it is all the more powerful for that; I pay tribute to Professor Jay for producing it.

This is a report about one of the worst imaginable crimes—about the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and the institutional cover-ups when the abuse came to light. These institutions were there to protect children but instead they acted to protect their own institutional reputations.

The report raises concerns about current child protection arrangements. First, it refers to the explosion in online-facilitated child sexual abuse, including the grooming and rape of children and babies. The Home Secretary did not mention this in his Statement, but can the Minister confirm that the online harms Bill will complete its passage through the Commons next week and be accelerated straight to the House of Lords? Can the Minister also confirm that the National Crime Agency will not have to make the 20% staff cuts which it has been asked to draw up in the recent past?

Secondly, the report says that

“significant reductions in funding of public services”

after 2010 is one of the key factors that has had

“a deleterious impact on responses to child sexual abuse.”

Does the Minister accept the damage done by the scale of the cuts in child protection? What can he say about protecting our existing arrangements in the forthcoming spending review?

Thirdly, the report is clear that organisations still do not take child protection seriously enough. What is the Home Office’s position on a mandatory duty to report child sexual abuse? The Labour Party has been calling for it since 2014, and it is worth noting that former Prime Minister Theresa May, who initiated this report, supported this key recommendation of the report.

Fourthly, the report is clear about the failings in the criminal justice system. The charge rate on child sexual abuse has dropped from 32% in 2015 to 12% last year. There are many other examples of failures in the criminal justice system too, but surely child sexual abuse should be the top priority.

Fifthly, the Home Office has responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, yet the independent inspectorate found just last week that they were being placed into unsuitable hotels where the staff did not even have DBS checks, and hundreds of children have gone missing. What action have the Government taken since the Minister saw those reports over the weekend?

This report is clear about the systemic failures, past and present. We in the Labour Party have been part of the problem. My right honourable friend Yvette Cooper apologised on behalf of the Labour Party for its part in that failure. Too often, there has been a deference to power, which has overridden a duty of care.

I spoke about the banality of evil. Noble Lords will know that I sit as a magistrate in London. Magistrates would not normally deal with these types of offences but several times in my experience as a magistrate in family courts, youth courts and adult courts, I have had witnesses and defendants make very serious child sex-related accusations when we were dealing with far lesser charges in the court process. We as a court system need to be alert to people reaching out for help when they are in the court system. We owe it to the thousands of survivors who have spoken out.

I have two final points to make. The first and very important point is that this is not a historical problem; it is happening today. My question to the Minister is: what is being done to ensure that children know where and how to report abuse? Secondly, I repeat a point made by many Members in the other place: can the Minister give an undertaking that there will be regular reports to Parliament on how the Government are implementing the recommendations in the report?

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. This seven-year Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse sheds light on extraordinary and appalling institutional failings. I want to thank the right honourable Theresa May MP for establishing this inquiry in the first place, as well as Professor Alexis Jay, the chair, and her panel, and, most of all, the survivors and victims who selflessly came forward because they wanted to prevent what had happened to them happening to anyone else.

This is a catalogue of failure to protect children, failure to listen to children and failure to believe children. There must be a change of culture, both in society and in those institutions which put their reputations before protecting children. We on these Benches are also truly sorry. All Governments have failed these survivors and victims, along with the police, health and social services, and local authorities. We have all let down the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The physical and emotional damage these children have suffered has led to a lifetime of suffering. The Home Secretary said that the perpetrators will be “caught and punished” and that “all available levers” in his power, including the police and criminal justice system will be used to bring offenders to justice. Can I ask the Minister how that will be brought about when there is a lack of police resources, the police are already overstretched and the Crown Prosecution Service does not have enough lawyers? The proportion of criminal cases overall resulting in prosecution is falling and there are serious backlogs in the courts. Will the Government increase the resources to the criminal justice system, for example, those available to the police and Crown Prosecution Service? Will the Government ask those institutions to prioritise child sexual abuse cases?

It is right that we should say sorry to the victims and survivors, but we should also not forget those falsely accused whose lives and reputations were seriously damaged as the police lurched from not doing enough to the opposite extreme. Those making false allegations damaged genuine victims as well as those they wrongly accused. Every victim must be protected, cared for and believed while the police engage in an objective search for the truth.

I shall mention three specific issues. First, will the Government introduce an effective statutory duty to report child sexual abuse?

Secondly, when it comes to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, as has already been said, they are being placed in inappropriate accommodation in hotels where those looking after them have not been DBS checked. More than 100 have gone missing. In going missing, they are vulnerable to sexual abuse. In the Home Secretary’s Statement, he said that

“there is no worse dereliction of duty than failing to protect a child”,

but the Home Office has not been protecting these children by allowing them to go missing. What are the Government doing to ensure that this is stopped?

Thirdly, on prosecutions, the Home Secretary talked about the number of convictions for possession of indecent images of children increasing by 39%. But what about the number of children being rescued from abuse and the children in those indecent images? What about the prosecutions of those producing the images, not just those in possession of them?

There were 2 million pages of evidence and 107 recommendations. It will take time to fully process and action all those recommendations. That must not be lost in the current political turmoil. Child sexual exploitation is endemic and increasing. As the report says:

“this is not just a national crisis, but a global one.”

Urgent action is needed to reverse the increasing numbers of children being abused. Can the Minister confirm that the Government will regularly update the House and not wait until all the recommendations have been addressed?

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for a large number of questions. I will do my best to get to all of them in the time available.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, that of course there are many thousands of other victims. We should be thinking about those who were unable, for whatever reason, to come forward, as well. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, there were an enormous number of submissions. Once again, I commend those who did and their bravery.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, asked me about the Online Safety Bill. I cannot confirm that it will be given expedited progress through this House. However, as the noble Lord noted, I believe it is on Report in the other place next week. We will be working with DCMS, particularly in light of this report.

In terms of cuts to the NCA, I do not know how it will be managing its budget. What I can say is that the Government have committed to a £20 million per annum uplift to that budget, which is going through. Whether that impacts staff numbers I cannot really say. I apologise for not having that information to hand. When we do, I am sure we will be able to come back to the House with it.

The noble Lord also asked me to accept the damage done by cuts. I am afraid I am going to refer back to an answer I gave in a debate last Thursday. The world has changed, and a lot of these crimes have developed as a result of the changes we were just discussing regarding the online world, so the responses will have to change. It would be inappropriate of me to use hindsight to say how the world might have been had things been done in a different way, given that the world has changed enormously. I cannot do that.

A number of questions were asked about the mandatory duty. I think the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, called it a statutory duty. This is going to be looked at. The Government have committed to look at all the various remaining recommendations. I remind noble Lords that 107 recommendations were made and 87 have been already actioned because they came out before the publication of the final report. The Government have committed to look at the remaining 20 and respond to them all within the six-month period. That is what we will be doing.

I understand the arguments for mandatory reporting. The inquiry’s report powerfully draws out the systemic failures of institutions to treat child sexual abuse seriously, as both noble Lords have noted, and to properly report allegations of child sexual abuse. As I have just said, we are committed to supporting front-line professionals working with children and to making sure they feel confident and equipped with the right resources and training to identify and respond to concerns or cases of child sexual abuse.

I could go on about this. There is one little caveat I would like to make. The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, suggested that the Labour Party was calling for this in 2014. In 2016, there was a consultation on mandatory reporting; I do not know if he remembers that. The evidence was very mixed. There were plenty of principled reasons from high-profile organisations which have a vested interest in this particular subject, which were not necessarily in favour of it. All these things have to be considered, and I am very happy to share those statistics with him afterwards if he would like.

Both noble Lords asked me about the criminal justice system and the various numbers. Again, there were calls for more money which obviously I am unable to answer. However, I can answer a little regarding the numbers of prosecutions and offences committed. I think my right honourable friend the Home Secretary referred to this in his speech. There were 103,496 child offences recorded by the police in the year to March 2022. It is a horrific number and a 16% increase on the previous year to March 2021.

However, there has been an increase, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, noted, in the number of convictions for indecent images. That number has increased by 39%. It is still a small number; I acknowledge that it is too small. I cannot say what has been happening to the victims of those images. I would like to be able to give him more information. I will investigate and come back to him if I can. I could go on in terms of the numbers, but, frankly, it is pretty horrible, and I think we should move on.

A question on unaccompanied asylum seekers was asked of me. On average, unaccompanied children seeking asylum are moved to long-term care within 15 days of arriving in a hotel. Obviously, we know that more needs to be done. That is why we are working closely with local authorities to increase the number of placements available and offer councils £6,000 for every child they can provide accommodation for. Any child going missing is obviously extremely serious and we work around the clock with the police and local authorities to urgently locate them and ensure that they are safe.

There is a lot of work being done around public awareness already, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, referred. I am sure I will have an opportunity to go into more detail on precisely what that work is, but he should rest assured that it is happening. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary committed to action all the remaining recommendations, or at least to come back with considered responses to them within the six months mandated by the inquiry. I think I have answered most of the questions. I apologise if I have not, but I shall leave it there.

My Lords, the problem is that this is happening today, tonight and tomorrow morning. The Government must decide which of the 107 recommendations should have priority. There can be a debate about this, but one that needs urgent attention is legislation to deal with mandatory reporting. The first question is: on whom should such a duty be imposed? Obviously, it should be institutions responsible for the care of children, as well as individuals in positions of trust. But we also have to be careful that, in our haste, we do not impose a duty on victims to report other victims. They may find it impossible to report their own stories, so why should they be in a position where they have to report someone else’s? In some institutions, it must be perfectly obvious to victims that there are other victims of the same person.

We need to be careful about legislation. It is not an offence of obstructing the police for me not to answer a question; it is an offence to lie. If we are going to amend that law, we need to be clear about how we will do so. Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 is almost impossible to understand. I beg whoever is responsible for legislation not to simply say, “Well, we’ve got a good Act about that.” It is not a good Act; it is very difficult to follow, and it is confused in any event because it did not follow the Law Commission’s recommendations. So can we legislate urgently to deal with these issues but also be careful about how we do so?

Sorry, I thought it was me.

I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, for that eloquent explanation of what I have just tried to explain, perhaps less eloquently, to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. The previous consultation on this, which reported in 2018, also illustrates a little of what the noble and Lord described. Some 51% of respondents felt that introducing a duty to act would have negative consequences, 68% felt that mandatory reporting would have an adverse impact and 85% felt that it would not ensure that appropriate action was taken. This included people like the Children’s Commissioner and the NSPCC, who know what they are talking about. Some of the reasons given in the report—these go very much to what the noble and learned Lord said—were that it could

“dissuade victims from disclosing incidents of abuse and reduce ‘safe spaces’ for children.”

It could also have

“an adverse impact on the child protection system … e.g., by impacting the recruitment and retention of staff”.


“Increased reporting may divert attention from the most serious … cases”.

So many other reasons were given, illustrating the complexity of this subject and the care with which it needs to be looked at. So I agree entirely with the noble and learned Lord.

My Lords, those of us who sit on this Bench, along with all on other Benches in your Lordships’ House, are deeply saddened and ashamed by the harm and suffering experienced by victims and survivors of abuse. I salute the courage of survivors in coming forward to share their stories. We are determined to learn from the mistakes of the past and make the Church as safe a place as possible. That is why we welcome this final report and are already embracing its various recommendations with, for example, the Church of England’s redress board, which has a victims and survivors working group. In this respect, what exactly is the Government’s intention? Is it their preference to support institutions, including the Church, in establishing individual redress schemes? Or is it their intention to create a new overarching external regulatory body in this respect?

The right reverend Prelate obviously makes some good points. I will outline what the Government are doing to ensure that all sectors and leaders of society are working together to tackle child sexual abuse. In his opening speech in the other place, the Home Secretary comprehensively outlined the cross-party and multiagency dimension to all of this. We are transforming the way that local safeguarding agencies work together to ensure a more effective response in safeguarding children.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced significant reforms, requiring local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and chief officers of police to form multiagency safeguarding partnerships. All of the new partnerships were in place by September 2019, but we know that there are still improvements to be made to the quality and consistency of the local partnerships. We are working with local partners to understand and address those challenges in ensuring effective independent scrutiny, engaging with schools and other relevant agencies and distributing funding.

I reiterate that the Government are firmly committed to supporting all institutions that play a role in safeguarding children to develop robust safeguarding strategies that are carefully monitored, ensuring the safety and protection of children, regardless of where they live and spend their time.

My Lords, I worked with the right honourable Member for Maidenhead in setting up this inquiry. At the time, plenty of people said it should not have been launched: they said it was all in the past and that there was no point in raking it all up again. Then they said that the terms of reference were too broad and that it would never end. I am pleased to say that they were wrong on all counts.

I congratulate Professor Alexis Jay on her brilliant stewardship of this inquiry and on her hard-hitting report. As she did in Rotherham, she has revealed truths that mean we can never look at society in the same way again. There is too much to say here, but I will cite a couple of important statistics in the report that have not been mentioned. In any year group of 200 children, it is estimated that 10 boys and more than 30 girls will experience sexual abuse before the age of 16. The number of sexual abuse offences recorded by the police where the victim was a child under the age of four has risen by 45% in recent years. So, as noble Lords have said, this is not in the past; it is very much in the present, and it will continue to wreck lives if we do not do something to stop it.

Having worked on the inquiry’s Truth Project, I have listened to the accounts of victims and survivors. Although everyone’s experience is different, the damage is always the same: families torn apart, lives forced in a different direction and feelings of shame, anger and hurt. We should thank all those who came forward to ensure that what happened to them does not happen to future generations. Thanks to Professor Jay, it does not have to; she has given us the answers.

As I said, it is a brilliant report, but it can only ever be as good as the action that flows from it. So I thank my noble friend the Minister for the Statement, which reflects the deeper understanding that we now have of this issue. But could he assure the House once more that the Government will look quickly and seriously at its recommendations and ensure that all the relevant departments across government play their part in implementing them? As we saw from the interim report, if they do not work together, we cannot drive through the change that is very much needed.

I thank my noble friend for her remarks and commend her for her efforts when she was working with the right honourable Member for Maidenhead. I am grateful for the opportunity to commend the former Prime Minister for her extraordinary work on this.

Those statistics are genuinely appalling, particularly when they are put in those terms. I have read them as percentages, which perhaps seem rather dry, but to give numbers is harrowing. The Government have made it clear that they are determined to work across agencies and across departments; that work will be ongoing, and all relevant departments will be involved in it.

Something the Home Secretary said bears repeating: when asked about a Minister for children, he said:

“We all … have to be Ministers for children”.

I think he is right.

My Lords, it is disappointing that recommendation 13, on mandatory reporting, is not a pure system; it is a bit of a hotchpotch of mandatory reporting systems. Will the Government undertake to compare recommendation 13 to successful models of mandatory reporting elsewhere in the world, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland and the USA? In particular, will they compare the views of public bodies before it was introduced and after? In each of those countries, there has been a significant gain in confidence in the regulated bodies that have to report.

I thank the noble Baroness for those suggestions. I will happily take them back to the department and Home Secretary, and strongly recommend that he investigates them.

My Lords, the Statement made in the other place says, in summary:

“Victims need to know … that they will be heard and protected.”

I will pick up a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Sanderson, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, who focused on the issues of the justice system. Abusers will of course seek out the most vulnerable: those who are the most excluded from society, including young people who may not be in education, employment or training; asylum-seeking children, as many noble Lords have identified; and those from particularly economically and socially disadvantaged communities. For them to be genuinely heard and to be able to talk to a sympathetic ear, resources will be needed in places such as schools and with their GPs and social workers—indeed, if one can imagine it, with immigration officers and border staff. Will the Minister acknowledge that there needs to be adequate resources in all those institutions where vulnerable children will encounter potentially responsible adults? The resources need to be there to enable those institutions to react appropriately.

Thank you.

I did not applaud the remit of the inquiry; it was much too broad. We had terrible problems with the chair, with whom we were, at last, third time lucky. The inquiry should not have been set up by the Home Office. In my days, it would have been set up by the health department, and now it should be by the education department—if it were, it would have been more focused, more relevant and more specific. It was far too broad.

I do not agree with all the recommendations, but I do agree with mandatory reporting. I will explain why very quickly. I used to be a chair of the juvenile court. I was a psychiatric social worker, but my first job was working with the Inner London Education Authority with a special boarding school, where I realised that the headmaster was abusing the children, if not also the parents. This was the most appalling horror to me, a virtuous person of 24. I reported it to my boss, who said, “If you complain about these sorts of things, they will not allow social workers at residential schools. You must not be a politician, Virginia; you’re a social worker”.

I then went and spoke to a very senior member of the Inner London Education Authority, a Labour member who was a friend of my family—I broke my professional line—and told her about this simply appalling man who was abusing children and the institution. She basically did nothing. Of course, what they did is what is reported in the report: they wrote him a good reference and he went off to Tunbridge Wells. I immediately wrote about this to my friend Patrick Mayhew—then the MP—to warn him, “If you ever hear anything about him at all, you must jump immediately”. Mr Bertram went off to Canada.

I say this because I think that few noble Lords in this Chamber will understand how horrific it is to think that you are working with a virtuous institution and gradually realise that the person leading it—and responsible for vulnerable children—is a perpetrator of horrendous crimes. Beyond all this, mandatory reporting would have helped me; I would have been able to say to my boss and to the local authority politician, “We have to have mandatory reporting”. So I commend Alexis Jay. She has ended up doing a very good job, but it has been quite a long journey getting there. Thank you for letting me speak.

I am pleased that we did. I thank my noble friend for her unusual perspective on this subject. I have absolutely no doubt that her personal experiences were replicated all too often in the past. Regarding mandatory reporting, I certainly appreciate her perspective and will take that back. As I have tried to explain, it is a complex subject. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, explained, it requires careful thought, but my noble friend’s remarks are noted.

My Lords, I add my warmth to the report that Professor Jay has produced. It has taken a long time and cost a lot of money. I am speaking for the victims; in my role as Victims’ Commissioner, I gave evidence three times. There are excellent recommendations. While I know that there are over 100 recommendations, and that the Government must respond within six months, six months is a long time for victims and survivors to wait for something to change for them.

I have challenged the Government in my role as Victims’ Commissioner about the criminal injuries compensation scheme, which has had a very tight budget. I am conscious that the compensation process for these victims and survivors is going to be very lengthy, very bureaucratic and will put them off claiming the compensation they duly deserve. For example, I had to fight in my role to get £20 for a victim who had to print off papers; there was a question mark about whether they would pay £20 for ink. So my concern is that, while it might seem very simple that the Government will do this and that, the monetary value given to organisations is not enough to support the services that these victims and survivors need. I would like a fast target on criminal injuries compensation, because these people have waited long enough to have their voices listened to and to be given the better, healthier lifestyle they truly deserve.

I thank my noble friend for those very sensible remarks. The Home Secretary said earlier that six months is obviously the absolute limit to come back with answers on these matters, but if we can come back quicker, we will. I am quite sure that he meant that when he said it. Criminal compensation—or victims’ compensation, I should say—will of course be considered along with the other recommendations. I will certainly take my noble friend’s perspective back to the Home Office.