More victims of are coming forward ‘every day’ as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into child sex abuse which covers councils in Notts.
Professor Alexis Jay, chairman of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, made the comments as she announced a new stage in the hearing.
A ‘Truth Project’ is being launched in Nottingham, giving victims the chance to tell the inquiry about their experiences and suggest how children can be better kept safe in future.
The inquiry, established in 2014, is focusing on several investigations across the UK into how institutions have dealt with sexual abuse against children.
One of its key areas involves historical abuse of children while in the care of Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils.
“The Inquiry has come to Nottingham because I believe there are many victims and survivors across the East Midlands who might be ready to share their experiences with the Truth Project, said Inquiry Chair Professor Alexis Jay.
“Every day more and more victims and survivors are coming forward to us. If you are thinking about meeting us in Nottingham, I want you to know that we are here to listen and learn from you.”
She invited victims to contact the inquiry to take part in the Truth Project – their stories will not be used as formal evidence, but will help shape the inquiry’s future recommendations on how institutions can prevent similar patterns of abuse in future.
In the coming weeks, the inquiry will host a conference with local experts to highlight child sexual abuse, and how the Truth Project can best serve victims and survivors in the region.
People who come forward will be invited to tell their stories in a “non-judgemental and supportive environment”, the inquiry said.
The inquiry announced it was focusing on Nottinghamshire after police launched a separate criminal investigation into child abuse in care claims in 2011.
This has widened to become Operation Equinox – involving around 290 people who have alleged they were sexually or physically abused in Nottinghamshire – mostly while in the care of local councils.
Several people have since been arrested, charged and convicted of abuse and several related criminal cases are still ongoing.
Much of the early investigation was centred around the former Beechwood care home in Mapperley, Nottingham, but has since widened to cover many other former institutions and alleged historical incidents in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
The inquiry’s report, featuring the experience of victims and survivors who take part in the Truth Project, will be published later this year.
Anyone wanting to share their experiences with the Truth Project can find more information on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s website.
Alternatively call the information line on 0800 917 1000, which is open weekdays 8am-8pm and on Saturdays 10am-12pm.