Child abuse inquiry to begin hearing from victims

Chairwoman of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Lowell Goddard, attends a rape and sexual abuse centre in Liverpool. Image copyright PA
Image caption Justice Lowell Goddard is leading the independent inquiry

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse is to begin hearing directly from victims and survivors.

A pilot phase of the Truth Project, part of the inquiry headed by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, will begin in Liverpool next week.

Victims and survivors will be able to share their experiences in a private session or via a written statement.

Justice Goddard said it would help the inquiry understand why many crimes went unreported and undetected for so long.

The pilot scheme is part of the independent inquiry launched by Home Secretary Theresa May, looking at how institutions and organisations, including the BBC, police, armed forces, schools and children's homes, handled abuse claims.

Justice Goddard will visit organisations supporting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to hear how they hope the inquiry can provide an opportunity to share their experiences.

Any allegations of ongoing abuse uncovered during the Truth Project will be referred to police, but the private sessions are not part of a legal process. A series of public hearings, when witnesses will give evidence under oath, will be held separately.

The identities of victims taking part will be kept private.

Speaking at the launch, Justice Goddard said: "It will help us gain a better understanding of the patterns of abuse, and will assist in explaining why many crimes went unreported and undetected for so long, often leaving other children at risk of abuse in later years.

"If you have suffered, because any organisation within England or Wales has failed in its duty to protect you as a child from sexual abuse, we want to hear from you."

The first institutions publicly named as under investigation by the inquiry will be announced at the end of the month.

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