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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Over three quarters of child abuse allegations made to police result in no action

Written by Margaret Davis

Three quarters of child abuse allegations referred to police by a public inquiry have resulted in no further action.

An interim report from the public inquiry into child sexual abuse revealed that as of March, 78% of the cases passed to the authorities could not be proceeded with.

This was due to lack of evidence, police being unable to identify or find suspects, suspects dying, or victims not wishing to continue with criminal proceedings.

Between March 2015 and June 2017, 1,575 referrals were made by the inquiry team to a central police group dubbed Operation Hydrant. These led to a total of 2,402 referrals being made to police forces and other law enforcement agencies.

Of these, 1,749 in England and 117 in Wales resulted in no further action - 78% of the referrals made. In England, a total of 457 are under ongoing investigation, 14 have resulted in charges and 14 convicted. In Wales, 15 are under investigation, none have been charged or convicted.

Chairwoman of the wide-ranging inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay (pictured), said she expects the inquiry to have made "substantial progress" by 2020.

In the foreword to the report, she said the inquiry's work so far has raised key points.

"This has raised important issues about society's reluctance to discuss child sexual abuse, which we consider must be addressed if we want institutions to better protect children from this abuse in the future," she said.

"We also consider that senior leaders within institutions must be more open and honest in recognising failures to protect children from sexual abuse in the past."

The report makes a series of recommendations, including that any police officer who wants to enter the most senior ranks must have "operational policing experience in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse" and get accreditation in this field.

Changes should be made to make it easier for victims to claim compensation, and plans brought in for a professional register of care home staff. The report also says national policies should be drawn up for the use of chaperones for children receiving medical care.

Institutions involved in the child migration that have not already apologised should do so, and surviving migrants should all receive compensation.

Five public hearings have taken place since December 2016 and another eight are due to take place in the coming year.

The hearings so far have related to child migration programmes before and after the Second World War, Rochdale, the English Benedictine Congregation which is part of the Catholic church, the internet and child sexual abuse, and the Diocese of Chichester, part of the Anglican church.

So far 1,040 accounts of sexual abuse have been made to the Truth Project, an evidence gathering exercise that is part of the inquiry.

Asked about the low level of allegations resulting in action, Theresa May's official spokesman said: "This is an interim report.

"It was important that it was set up in order to establish the truth of what happened. The Government will respond to the report in due course."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) IICSA.