The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”) published its final report with 20 Recommendations on 22nd October 2022. The Inquiry opened in 2015. The report was the culmination of 725 witnesses during 325 days of public hearings, hearing from over 6,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, and the contents of 52 separate reports. The report was therefore well researched and evidenced, and was not a hurried summary on the back of a cigarette packet.
The Response of the Home Office to the Report
IICSA was firm in its insistence that the Government respond within 6 months. In April this year, the government explained that due to the Local Elections it would not be able to respond until May. The Response was finally published on 22nd May 2023. To read the full response click here
The report adopts 18 out of the 20 recommendations, but some of the responses are firmer than others. Whereas a firm commitment to bring in changes is made in relation to some recommendations, consultations with a commitment are made in relation to others. I have copied and pasted the table appearing in the report below
Access to Care Records (IICSA Report)
IICSA’s Report was very helpful in that it made exactly the type of recommendations that we have been advocating in the Campaign Group namely minimal redaction, avoid over-cautious deletion of 3rd Party data, provide support to Care Leavers when accessing their records, adhere to the statutory time limits if possible for disclosure, introduce legislation to make the retention of care records 75 years etc.
Home Office Reaction
The reaction of the Home Office was disappointing in that it agreed with the recommendation, but then passed the buck to the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) to provide enhanced guidance.
To be fair we were promised, as a Group, enhanced guidance some years ago at a meeting at the MIRRA Symposium to which the then head of the ICO, Elizabeth Denham CBE gave a Keynote Speech.
This is an extract from the recommendation
|A code of practice for access to
records pertaining to child
|We accept the importance of access to records.
We will engage with the Information
Commissioner’s Office on implementing this
Nonetheless there was no mention of the proposed legislation we suggested as long ago as 2013 in the House of Lords –
It shall be a defence to any allegation of unlawful disclosure of data under the Data Protection Act by the data controller, if it can be shown that the data controller has made a reasonable examination of the data and has satisfied himself as to the need to disclose data and identities of individuals whose consent has not been obtained under section 7(4) of the Act having regard to the needs of the care leaver as set out elsewhere in this Act.Hansard 14th October 2013
We discovered, when conducting round tables with different Local Authorities that there was widespread disagreement about what should, and should not be redacted from Care Records before disclosure to a Care Leaver, with some taking a liberal, and others taking a cautious approach.