A CAMPAIGNING York filmmaker says he is "heartbroken" after his call for mandatory counselling for victims of child sexual abuse was rejected by the Government.

Kev Curran, 43, from Clifton, began his campaign in memory of his brother Declan who took his own life aged just 13 in 1995 after allegedly being raped by a sex offender.

Kev received more than 10,000 signatures on a petition to make it mandatory for police and the CPS to offer counselling to child victims of abuse.

The UK Government responds to all petitions which reach 10,000 signatures.

But its reply to Kev's petition stated: “The provision of counselling to victims of child sexual abuse is not prescribed in legislation and to do so would deny a victim their choice of whether to access support, and the form this takes.”

York Press: Kev and Declan CurranKev and Declan Curran

Winner of a Royal Television Society award and highly commended by the Turner Classics short film festival - where judges included Ewan Mcgregor and Ridley Scott - Kev said he was “crushed” by the government’s reply and felt it had misinterpreted his request.

“I am heartbroken by this response," he said. "How can they interpret we would breach the victims' code by forcing victims to have counselling when what we want is the offer of the support to victims of child sexual abuse to be mandatory.

“Obviously a victim has the right to turn it down. We live in an age where countless children are subject to abuse and sexual exploitation and we need to be a society that puts them first to make sure they are seen, heard, and included in a change that is so badly needed.”


Kev said that prior to Declan’s case being heard in court his mother Anne Curran pleaded with the CPS, police, and the local authority to provide counselling for her young son.

But Kev says his mum was told counselling would contaminate court evidence.

Kev claimed his brother’s death could have been prevented had he received the right intervention and support.

York Press: Kev Curran. Picture: Scott AkozKev Curran. Picture: Scott Akoz

“My brother passed away a year into waiting for the case to go to trial, that was a full year for him of worrying about talking about the abuse in court," he said.

“Declan didn’t understand how the system worked, he was the victim of a horrific crime, he had visited the court, he was told he was going to have to answer questions and they were going to try and trip him up.

“It was frightening and traumatic for him. He took his own life the day after the perpetrator who was on bail had walked past him in a nearby street. I believe this rule was partly responsible for his death.”

Dr Gemma Halliwell, CEO of The Greenhouse, a specialist support service for children, young people and families who have experienced sexual abuse, said child victims of sexual abuse and their families are still being told they can’t have therapy when in fact the opposite is true - they can.

York Press: Declan CurranDeclan Curran

“There is still a lot of confusion, so whilst the CPS now state yes, it’s okay to have therapy pre-trial, it’s going to take about 10 years to unpick all the misunderstandings and assumptions of the previous guidance,” she said.

Following concerns that survivors of sexual abuse were experiencing barriers to accessing therapy because of the old guidelines, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) conducted a consultation, which ended in 2020.

The new guidance published in May 2022 states the wellbeing of victims is what should be the guiding principle not the criminal justice process.

Despite these new guidelines Kev said victims and survivors of sexual violence have told him recently they were advised not to get counselling even in situations when it was available. He said they were led to believe it could change the outcome of their case and be utilised by the defence.

Kev, founder of York based social enterprise Inspired Youth, plans to challenge the government response and will continue to fight and raise awareness.

“People tell me to let it go and get over it, but I can’t come all this way and quit now.

“I want some light to come from the darkness of Declan’s suicide and to change it for other kids.”

In March Kev met with York Central MP Rachael Maskell to see if she could support him to find a way forward.

York Press: York Central MP Rachael MaskellYork Central MP Rachael Maskell

Since their meeting, he says Ms Maskell has already started work on the campaign and has spoken with Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, who leads on work to support victims of sexual violence.

Ms Maskell said: “I will continue to work on this campaign to ensure that all children get the help and interventions they need, when they need them.”

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