Child abuse inquiry judge to look at sexual exploitation in Rotherham

Rotherham was the scene of widespread child abuse
Rotherham was the scene of widespread child abuse

The judge chosen to head an inquiry into historic child sex abuse is to examine the child exploitation scandal in Rotherham as part of her probe.

New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard said victims would play a ‘hugely beneficial’ role in shaping the scope of the investigation when she arrives in the UK to discuss its terms of reference.

The inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has been set up to consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.

The judge warned ‘achievable goals’ must be set from the outset to avoid the inquiry running out of control.

Justice Goddard said all such issues remained to be decided but getting them right was essential to a process which is set to last for several years.

“It is a very broad landscape and the inquiry is very complex and multi-faceted but it needs to be achievable as well, it needs to set goals that are achievable in the interests of the survivors of child sexual abuse but also the state,” she said.

“It must be managed because an inquiry that drags on and does not have achievable goals that cannot deliver is not an effective inquiry.

“That is how you stop any inquiry getting out of control. It has to be focused on what it has identified at the outset as its relevant parameters and its achievable goals.”

She said survivors would be ‘at the forefront of this inquiry and indeed the whole centre’ and that it would draw on the lessons of recent scandals such as large-scale child sex exploitation in Rotherham.

“It will be focused on not only the past experience of survivors but also on current situations such as this Rotherham report I am reading about and also about how we protect for the future and make sure these terrible abuses do not occur again,” she added.

“The future has to be a huge part of why we are examining the past.”