The Lighthouse is a multi-agency service for children and young people who have experienced any form of sexual abuse, including exploitation. Its approach is child centred.
The Lighthouse is funded by the Home Office, NHS England, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Department for Education. NHS England has commissioned the health and wellbeing services which are provided by University College London Hospitals (UCLH), The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trusts, and the NSPCC supported by Morgan Stanley.
The Lighthouse follows the Children’s House (‘Barnahus’) model which originated in Iceland. Evidence has shown that such locations help to reduce children’s trauma, enable the gathering of better evidence from interviewees and to increase prosecutions for child sexual abuse. The Lighthouse is the first of its kind in the UK. It is available to families in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.
With regard to the relevance of the Lighthouse to criminal justice and to criminal advocates, if a child has been sexually abused, a specially trained police officer can conduct an Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interview with them to gather evidence for the prosecution case. Initiatives are under way to put together an expert working group to evaluate the benefits of this process and to analyse the scope for rolling out the model nationally.
The ICCA will continue to monitor the progress of the Lighthouse and the rollout of any similar initiatives in other areas.