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institutions must focus on future abuse prevention, as well as reparations for past failures

19 February 2018

With the #MeToo campaign, the recent Oxfam sexual abuse claims and the prosecution of football coach Barry Bennell for a further 43 offences of sexual abuse against 11 boys between 1979 and 1991, it is clear that the scale of sexual abuse allegations across all manner of organisations is coming to the fore. 

Institutions must turn their minds not only to reparations for the victims of sexual abuse, but also to the prevention of this abuse in future.

There can be no doubt that times have changed. The days when an individual could coach a youth football team or be employed in a Children’s Home without first having a DBS (formerly CRB) check and thorough references checks are gone. However, those who sexually abuse others are adept at hiding their actions from others and will seek to find ways to access the most vulnerable in society.

We must therefore all be responsible for taking a proactive approach to the protection of others seeking to prevent abuse before it can happen with, for example, regular reviews of safeguarding policies, thorough reference checks and training to staff.

An atmosphere of open communication is similarly important. Let us not forget that until 1994, Barry Bennell had no convictions. His victims were afraid to speak out, worried that they would not be believed. Campaigns such as #MeToo and confidence within organisations that all allegations will be taken seriously must be as important as other checks.

Browne Jacobson LLP are instructed to act on behalf of a number of institutions including charities and County Football Associations in relation to sexual abuse allegations. We are experienced in providing both advice on information sharing, safeguarding and policies to prevent abuse as well as assisting in response to claims you may be facing. If you require any assistance with these matters please contact us.

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