In December 2015 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) published the Wass Inquiry Report into allegations surrounding child safeguarding issues on St Helena and Ascension Island. This was an expert and independent inquiry which found no evidence of corruption or ‘cover up’ of child abuse in St Helena Police Service, the St Helena and Ascension Island governments, the FCO or Department for International Development (DFID). The Inquiry did however find evidence of institutional failings in the protection of children and made a number of recommendations.
In January 2016 the FCO appointed Ginny Ferson to St Helena as UK Government Representative: Wass Inquiry Implementation. This was part of the UK government’s ongoing commitment to implement the Wass Inquiry’s Report recommendations.
The progress report shows good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Inquiry Report. Work continues to ensure the improvements on St Helena and Ascension Island are sustainable and long term. DFID has agreed with the St Helena government that the increased Safeguarding Directorate budget of £3.75 million should be ring-fenced.
In addition, the UK and our Overseas Territories will continue to work together to protect children from harm, and promote their welfare as a priority.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, James Duddridge MP, has made a Written Ministerial Statement on the progress report.