Abuse survivor charity One in Four has said Tusla investigations into abuse allegations, it believes to be “entirely credible”, regularly result in no action being taken.
The criticism came as the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report found 177 child abuse cases referred to Tusla were awaiting social workers since last August in Dublin south east and Wicklow. The lengthy waiting list has been blamed on a lack of staff in the system.
However, executive director of One on Four Maeve Lewis said it was “very dissatisfied” with the quality of many assessments of retrospective allegations of abuse.
“Our experience of making notifications to Tusla is reflected in the Hiqa Report. Cases languish on waiting lists for long periods. Assessments of retrospective allegations are complex and we are very dissatisfied at the quality of many assessments.
“Staff interviewed by Hiqa acknowledge the lack of training they receive in this regard. Investigations into allegations that we believe to be entirely credible, regularly are concluded with no action being taken,” she said.
“I believe this means that there are many children out there who are unnecessarily exposed to the risk of sexual harm.”
Ms Lewis said the report pointed out that allegations of retrospective abuse were treated less seriously than current abuse.
She said: “Unless increased funding is made available to Tusla to invest in child protection services, it is likely that these failures will continue.”
In a statement, Tusla said it screens all referrals and, if a risk to a child is identified, the case is prioritised and allocated: “Investigations of retrospective allegations are complex due to the need to balance fair procedures and the best interests of the child. Tusla’s policy on investigating retrospective allegations is intended to ensure that all members of the agency are aware of the law and act according to the principles of fair procedure set down by the courts.”
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