back to article IT delays helped derail UK's historic child sexual abuse inquiry

The British government’s high-profile inquiry into historic child sexual abuse has been hampered by IT delays, which have been a major component of its "legacy of failure”. Since it was announced in 2014, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into decades of child abuse and corresponding cover-ups has had …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's almost as if they don't want to investigate child sex abuse.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      It's more like some politician decided they needed to be distanced from a potentially-damaging series of institutional failures and hurriedly announced something without considering whether it was deliverable.

    2. David Pollard

      It's not just cases of child sex abuse that they don't want to see reviewed. My own experience would suggest that the police and government are also reluctant to look into shortcomings in the investigation of historic cases of rape and murder. Incidental aspects involving recreational drugs are, however, given continued attention.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Almost

      That was the concensus amongst New Zealand pundits when Lowall Goddard was appointed.

      http://www.laudafinem.com/2015/09/01/australia-v-new-zealand-and-united-kingdom-the-royal-commission-v-the-art-of-cover-up/

      Her history is majorly dodgy. Anyone who'd looked into it would have known she wasn't suitable.

      Being excoriated by the privy council on multiple occasions should be a big alarm bell, as is being rated dead last of all NZ high court judges by the NZ legal profession, with specifc comments about a lack of understanding of human rights.

      She's also known for presiding the NZ IPCC which tended to exonerate NZ police on every complaint despite activities likely to make Gene Hunt blush.

      LF is now saying "I told you so"

      E2nz weighed in and made an interesting observation at https://e2nz.org/2016/08/15/kiwi-judge-dumps-uk-victims-of-child-abuse/, quoting from a guardian article:

      “She has been accused of sidelining survivors in the investigation. Their testimonies will have no direct legal consequences and will only be used as “ballast” to the final report, says Phil Frampton chair of the Care Leavers’ Association. “[It’s] a form of window dressing that may leave many survivors not only bound to secrecy about their testimony but also deeply distressed.”

      Bound to secrecy? On a public enquiry?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cynic in me assumes that these delays are on purpose due to the allegations that will come out and the damage they will do to the establishment. There may also be allegations about current/former politicians so the longer they can delay it then the more chance they have to claim dementia and get away with it completely while still working in the lords.

    The thing I don't understand is why are we having an inquiry? Surely if there are allegations of abuse then it should be arrest, investigate and then prosecute should the need arise.

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Dear Sir,

      should it not be investigate, arrest, prosecute?

      Regards,

      Guus

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As the allegations have been made, it's the other way round as the only way to investigate would be to arrest to determine the other parties response to the allegations. I'm guessing as these are historic there would be no other evidence and determination of guilt would be based on whether they could prove that the accused is lying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I'm guessing as these are historic there would be no other evidence and determination of guilt would be based on whether they could prove that the accused is lying."

          For a defendant to have to prove their accuser is lying sounds like a presumption of guilt - which is contrary to English law.

          Often the prosecution's strategy is to convince the jury that the person was capable of the offence. For this they will present information about the defendant's life-style viz what they read, who they have known, etc.

          They seem to depend on finding many people to make similar allegations in order to sway the jury by weight of numbers - even if many of the stories would not stand up in court on their own. A police tactic appears to be to publicise the allegations against a named person as widely as possible - in the hope of getting more people to come forward.

          One court case collapsed when a witness said in court that his statement was a lie. He had only made it because the police had sought him out - and told him how much money he could get in criminal compensation. That compensation is only paid if the defendant is found guilty - which does give some concern for the accuracy of the historical facts presented by the prosecution.

          Jimmy Savile's estate is subject to civil compensation claims by his alleged victims - probably using the civil "balance of probability" threshold. That would presumably be the case for any other alleged abuser who is dead - if the enquiry found they were likely to have been guilty in at least some cases.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Often the prosecution's strategy is to convince the jury that the person was capable of the offence. For this they will present information about the defendant's life-style viz what they read, who they have known, etc.

            And don't forget that the 'moral' attitudes of today are vastly different to what they were back in the 60s and 70s. Those of us that were young then can testify to that.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              basic security procedure

              "And don't forget that the 'moral' attitudes of today are vastly different to what they were back in the 60s and 70s."

              Indeed, but that doesn't excuse sexual/mental/physical abuse of children.

              What happens between consenting adults is up to them.

              The reality is that this kind of abuse has been happening as long as there have been societies to have them in (probably before then too), but has been less and less tolerated.

              The biggest problem for detecting it is that 2/3-3/4 of all of this kind of abuse is perpetrated by direct family members or close family friends, and it's about 50:50 male/female perpetrators (the same figures and ratios show up in things like child murders and just about all other kinds of abuse).

              The reason that men figure predominantly in this investigation is a matter of the balance of power at the time coupled with reluctance to admit women are just as capable of this kind of thing (kind of like Queen Victoria's refusal to believe that lesbians exist was one of the reasons that being a gay male was illegal but a gay female wasn't)

              Ironically, despite the paranoia about abuse and "stranger danger" in particular (See above. Such paranoia can leave kids more vulnerable due to ignoring the elephant in the room), it's highly likely that actual levels are at an all-time low. Greater awareness means greater levels of reporting - and this is a good thing - but it's important to realise that attempts to report such things 40+ years ago usually resulted in the messenger being vilified, so people simply didn't.

              Getting back to the topic: UK civil servants (and a bunch of other countries too) suffer badly from "Not Invented Here" syndrome and cronyism. Why use something that already exists if you can be pay a shedload to your friends so they can (badly) reinvent that wheel?

              1. Moosh

                Re: basic security procedure

                "(kind of like Queen Victoria's refusal to believe that lesbians exist was one of the reasons that being a gay male was illegal but a gay female wasn't)"

                This wasn't just Queen Vic, however. Throughout history, it has often been assumed that women cannot be homosexual at all. Historically, female homosexuality is a modern invention. For most of recorded history, women have been having "special female relationships" and the like without any inherent prejudice or assumption of homosexuality. Likewise, until modern times, sex was only considered sex with true and proper dongle insertion. By that definition, how could women be having sex with each other?

                That Queen Vic didn't believe it isn't some humorous anecdote about how prudish and proper Victorians were; its an opinion and belief that the vast majority of the population had. It's truly indicative of the time.

                Sorry, studied history, couldn't resist.

    2. Gert Leboski

      Either that or each chair is being told something along the lines of "You need to skip straight over the names on this list. They are not to be investigated." Then they are stepping down in disgust and some NDA / Official Secrets Act tomfoolery is stopping them from telling the world the real reasons why they're stepping down.

      This organised farce is being controlled by the old-boys network, I'm convinced of that.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        > Either that or each chair is being told something along the lines of "You need to skip straight over the names on this list. They are not to be investigated."

        If you look into Goddard's history of covering up malfeasance (she was the NZ government's "go to" judge for this kind of thing), you'll realise that was why she was hired.

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Did they get that far?

    You sure they got far enough to need IT? By the sounds of it, commuting from New Zealand was the problem!

  4. tiggity Silver badge

    Odd

    I did wonder what odd requirements they added (and why) so that evidence management needs could not be met by some of the (as mentioned in article) off the shelf evidence management systems.

    And if no specialist providers could meet those needs off the shelf, they could probably have done a better / faster job of producing something to meet those needs than a company that (as far as I can tell) is jack of all trades software solutions house & not an evidence management specialist company.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Odd

      "I did wonder what odd requirements they added (and why) so that evidence management needs could not be met by some of the (as mentioned in article) off the shelf evidence management systems."

      I'm seeing this with our ticketing/network management systems. There's an ideal package for the job (GLPI) but various people are looking at the _untuned_ version and going "look at all these extra fields we don't need. I can write a stripped-down version much more easily" rather than just switching off the extra bits that aren't needed. This has caused implementation and replacement of the old system to drag out for at least 2 years longer than it's needed to.

      (Of course, writing it locally pretty much guarantees your employment as noone else will understand it, I'm pretty sure this is the mindset behind a lot of this kind of shit)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public institution procurement

    If you've ever had to procure a system for a public institution you will know that there are an immense number of hoops to jump through. This takes so much time that the system can be obsolete before you've got it.

    As long as there's someone at the table who says "I think we could get it for less money" you just have to check all the options, and that takes time and money, to be seen to have carried out the job with "due diligence".

    I don't know what the answer is, but it's a constant source of failure.

    Anonymous because...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Public institution procurement

      > As long as there's someone at the table who says "I think we could get it for less money" you just have to check all the options, and that takes time and money, to be seen to have carried out the job with "due diligence".

      Been there, done that:

      Got outvoted by the BoD on internal development of software because the one I wanted to buy was too expensive.

      5 years later, the internally developed software was a festering pile of dogshit which not even the Inland Revenue could untangle (they tried and walked away).

      Fed up with it, I managed to pull all the raw data into a personally purchased copy of the software I wanted to use - and discovered that our internally developed "cheaper package" was such a pile of crap that it had cost the company more than 20 times the price of the "expensive package" simply because it was producing wildly inaccurate financials.

      The scary part? That internally developed software was forked from a package used by a Regional Health Authority which had been written and developed inhouse at that RHA (one of the board was a software developer at the RHA) - it was entirely based around Excel.

  6. Tikimon Silver badge
    Devil

    You had me at "government"

    That one word explains it all, dunnit? Do we really expect efficiency, promptness, effectiveness, relevance, or any of that?

  7. kain preacher Silver badge

    Following pre-contract work, IICSA and the preferred bidder, Northgate Public Services, agreed not to move to contract for the EMS.

    Wow it was such a dogs breakfast they did not want to touch it. What does it take to make some to walk away from the grave train ?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Trollface

      >What does it take to make some to walk away from the grave train ?

      270k for BS ?

  8. inmypjs Silver badge

    if only..

    they let us hate all the people we used to allowed to hate they wouldn't have to keep searching for OAP an dead pedo substitutes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Northgate

    the second I saw that name, I had any element of surprise knocked out of me.

    1) Has anyone used ResourceLink/MyView ? A more pants design is hard to imagine. It would have been clunky in 1996

    2) Anyone had the misfortune to try and apply for a Blue Badge online ? Echoing the first comment to this story, it's almost like they don't want anyone to have one.

  10. benwidebottom

    security?

    Remember that massive failure where they lost evidence from victims?

    Check out their website. It's insecure. Look for yourself.

    They so clueless about security?

    Maybe the won't name their head of security (like every serious business does) because they haven't got one? Jobs for the boys? Creeping chumocracy again?

    This really worries me. I would never trust em with my information. With all these screwup and obvious attempts to hide the truth ... I don't know why anyone would.

    That Goddard lady probably did the smart thing and jumped before the inevitable HUGE disaster becomes public.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    love to see that "IT Review" report

    Love to see that "IT Review" report. Unedited.

    Only months in and they need external IT reviewers? Daaaam. Things must be totally fscked in there. Those must be the "internal tensions" the retiring Lady complained about.

    Maybe an FOI on the Home Office will shed some light.

    Will heads roll? Don't hold your breath. They never do when it's faceless bureaucrats.

  12. fritzmax

    W. T. F. !

    W T F !

    So where is all the private data they've collected for months from victims, police, Lambeth, schools, church, ... ?

    Is it all in an email account? Dropbox? A computer-under-a-desk?

    If I was any of those groups that gave these clowns sensitive information I'd be DEMANDING to know wherenit is, and WHO is responsible for its security.

    Isn't this against the law or something? Mr ICO?

    Gobsmacked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: W. T. F. !

      That has me scratching my head here. WTF do the law enforcement agencies use to store such information now? Or does that mean that they've blown off all such investigations for so long, they've never seen the need for such a tool?

    2. benwidebottom

      Re: W. T. F. !

      Don't be silly ... it'll all be on a USB stick.

      1. davidp231

        Re: W. T. F. !

        Don't they take it a step further these days and leave the whole laptop on the bus/train?

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: W. T. F. !

      So where is all the private data they've collected for months from victims, police, Lambeth, schools, church, ... ?

      Is it all in an email account? Dropbox? A computer-under-a-desk?

      Probably in a cardboard box labeled "nasty stuff" under the junior investigator's desk. If we watch enough of those "cold case" kind of TV shows, that's where the evidence is always located.

  13. 404 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Off topic

    The lead picture on top of the story is fucking beautiful! I don't say that much, but at first glance I thought it was a painting, but no, a great camera shot.

    Kudos to the photographer - went ahead and saved it for future reference.

  14. Snowy Silver badge

    Delaying it how saves them having to lose it later, like they did with the other report.

    Then after the next election they can quietly drop it.

  15. Omar Smith
    FAIL

    Historic Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

    The 'Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse' was designed to fail, as have all the others and it was never independent. IICSA was set up by then home Secretary Theresa May to shutdown the CSA enquiry. None of the sacked CSA members were on the new 'independent' inquiry. ref ref.

  16. Whitter
    Paris Hilton

    Surely FOI applies to the IICSA ?

    "IICSA would not name the head of security nor was it prepared to detail the staffer's qualifications or experience"

    Name of person? A senior role in a public office equals no expectation of privacy.

    Qualifications? Absolutely no expectation of privacy.

    It certainly looks like FOI should apply to the structure of the body (though not their evidence / deliberations thereon obviously)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Grass

    I hear the whispering Grass that all this is being punted toward

    Mines the one with the "One Man and His Dog that went to mow a meadow" in the pocket

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019