Expert Abuse Lawyers Concerned As ‘NHS And Local Authorities Fail Victims’

Calls For Rapid Improvements To Support For Victims Of Child Sex Abuse


Specialist child abuse lawyers have called for urgent action by the NHS and local authorities after one of the biggest surveys of child sexual abuse survivors in the UK revealed shocking failures.

The independent survey of nearly 400 child sexual abuse survivors found social services and A&E lacked basic, essential criteria to support vulnerable children and had not improved in 40 years. Worryingly, less than half of those who used hospitals or social services said they felt that they were listened to, believed or respected.

Prof Noel Smith from the University Campus Suffolk, who led the research, described the findings as important and disturbing.

He said: “You can imagine how if someone is finding it hard to disclose – they’ve been told all their life they’re not going to be listened to – and when they do get help they feel they’re not being believed, that clearly compounds the issues they’re going to have.”

In the study, carried out with the charity Survivors in Transition, survivors were asked to rate support services – including voluntary groups, GPs, A&E and social services – on the basis of three criteria: whether they felt listened to, believed and respected. The police, A&E and social services were ranked the worst.

The survey results mirror the conclusions of an inquiry by MPs into the Rotherham and Rochdale child exploitation scandals, which found that local authorities had an appalling attitude when dealing with vulnerable children.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who work to help survivors of child sexual abuse gain answers and justice regarding their ordeals, say the authorities concerned must take heed of the results.

Expert Opinion
“The results of this survey are very disturbing. For survivors to say that basic services to support some of the most vulnerable members of society, have not improved for over 40 years is shocking.

“It can be incredibly difficult for those affected by abuse to have the courage to come forward and talk about what they have been through, so it is hugely important that people are given the help they need to take such a step and begin the process of attempting to come to terms with what they have faced.

“It is vital that the NHS and local authorities take this matter seriously and prioritise making improvements in this area. Failure to do so will only prolong and potentially intensify a traumatic experience.”
Luke Daniels, Partner