In the last few days I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about what the best way forward for the UK Child Abuse Inquiry might be.
Because my thinking is in flux I haven't yet finalised my proposals to the Home Office.
But it seems to me that much of my thinking in
A draft proposal for a credible, definitive inquiry into UK child (sexual) abuse
I've been looking around at the Web sites of other child abuse inquiries to see if there are lessons which could be usefully learned. And if there are procedures that could usefully be applied to improve the proposed Home Office inquiry.
For example, I've been reading some of the information on the Web sites of the
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
in Australia and the
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
in Northern Ireland.
Each has stimulated thought.
In this post I'd like to focus on the Acknowledgement Forum aspect of the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.
I've found it difficult to find a detailed account of exactly what the Acknowledgement Forum does but here is my tentative understanding.
Put simply the Acknowledgement Forum provides a confidential, private setting for survivors of abuse to tell their story.
So far as it's possible it seems the Acknowledgement forum provides a friendly, supportive venue for each survivor to tell their story in private on a one to one basis.
It seems that information from the Acknowledgement Forum is passed to the Statutory Inquiry.
I assume, but haven't yet been able to confirm, that the Inquiry can consider information from the Acknowledgement Forum but on the basis that it is not to be publicised.
If I understand the process correctly then survivors have a mechanism to put their experiences on record. If the survivor wishes it seems that the information from the survivor remains totally confidential (as far as the public is concerned) but that information is made available to the Statutory Inquiry so they can join up the dots.
It seems to me that some mechanism similar to the Acknowledgement Forum would be useful in the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
Since I haven't seen any discussion of that possibility I'm writing this post to hopefully stimulate discussion of whether an Acknowledgment Forum, or something similar, would be a useful component of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
Survivors have a right (and a need) to be heard. It seems to me that an Acknowledgement Forum or something similar to it could help meet that need.
So far as I'm aware the notion of an Acknowledgement Forum hasn't entered the Home Office's thinking.
My feeling is that such an approach should be formally put to the Home Office as being both an essential component of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry and a significant improvement to the current proposed inquiry.
What do you think?