being seen to be doing something

It seems that all we’ve heard about in recent weeks is inquiries into this and inquiries into that. It’s like people think ‘Oh another abuse scandal? Quick let’s set up an inquiry.’

And so the government, or the BBC or the civil service set up an inquiry. At the moment we have –

  • North Wales abuse inquiry by National Crime Agency head into abuse claims from 70s and 80s, fresh claims, and police handling of the claims
  • Mrs Justice Macur appointed by PM to review the 2000 Waterhouse review which looked into the north Wales abuse
  • BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation into north Wales abuse claims
  • Operation Yewtree: Scotland Yard criminal investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile sexually abused young people
  • BBC investigation into management failures over the dropping of a Newsnight report into the Savile allegations
  • BBC investigation into culture and practices during Savile’s career and current policies
  • BBC investigation into handling of past sexual harassment claims
  • Department of Health investigation into Savile’s appointment to Broadmoor “taskforce” and his activities at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary
  • Director of Public Prosecutions review into decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009 (source BBC)

And that’s just on two issues that have come to light in recent weeks. In fact one of the above inquiries is actually an inquiry into an inquiry! I think I’ve lost count of the amount of inquiries that have been set up in just the last year or two. But the question is after all these inquiries, just what exactly is going to change? Has anything ever changed as a result of an inquiry?

My theory is that a scandal of some sort comes to light and the press get hold of it. It quickly snowballs until the government realise that it’s not going away and that they need to be seen to do something. So they set up an inquiry. That inquiry hears from various people, most of whom are not compelled to be there and do not have to swear any oaths to be truthful. The inquiry then writes a pretty report with all sorts of recommendations, none of which have to actually be implemented, and then it’s filed away under ‘See, we do care…’

Here’s a radical idea. How about instead of wasting money on inquiries that change absolutely nothing, we spend it on actually changing practices, on educating people young and old on how to stay safe, on training organisations about keeping vulnerable people safe? How about instead of navel gazing and hand wringing, organisations such as the BBC do what they can to raise awareness about the issues around abuse? How about the government works to educate people?

But of course that would mean actually giving a monkeys, and lets face it most just don’t.

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