North Wales child abuse: 105 people tell police they were victims
Rafael Núñez | December 17, 2012 at 07:25 am
Police investigating claims of abuse at Bryn Estyn children’s home in Wrexham and other institutions in 70s and 80s
More than 100 people who say they were victims of abuse at children’s homes in north Wales in the 70s and 80s have come forward since the launch of a fresh police inquiry into the scandal.
Operation Pallial, which was announced by the government at the height of the swirl of false allegations about the Tory peer Lord McAlpine, has received information from 105 people who say they were abused as children at the Bryn Estyn home in Wrexham and other institutions.
Some have contacted the operation directly while the details of others have been passed on via organisations that work with victims. Among them are those who have made allegations previously and a number who have come forward for the first time.
Led by Keith Bristow, the director general of the National Crime Agency, the operation will assess all the information it has received and review relevant historic police investigations before conducting fresh inquiries as it deems necessary.
Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, from Merseyside police, the senior investigating officer, said: “Operation Pallial is investigating new allegations of historic child abuse, some from victims previously known about and some from victims who have come forward for the first time.
“All victims of abuse have a right to expect all allegations of abuse, no matter how much time has passed, to be investigated professionally and appropriately. We will do so.
“Equally importantly, if offenders are still alive they must be identified, investigated and brought to justice, with those who still have access to children being prioritised.”
Mulcahey said the investigation would “follow the evidence without fear or favour”.
The operation is being conducted by a full-time team of 27 police officers and staff, drawn primarily from police forces in the north-west of England and supported by members of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
Victims have either contacted Operation Pallial directly, or have agreed to have their details forwarded by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children or the children’s commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler.
One striking feature is the geographical spread of the alleged victims.
They come from 22 British police forces outside north Wales and also from the Republic of Ireland.
In a statement, the operation said it was keen to make sure “appropriate support” was provided to all victims and witnesses. It said: “The investigation will be victim focused and their ongoing welfare will be at the forefront of any investigative decisions made.”
Operation Pallial was announced by the home secretary, Theresa May, following the discredited BBC Newsnight report in which a former children’s home resident claimed he had been abused by a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era. Lord McAlpine was widely identified on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet as the Tory referred to, until a Guardian investigation concluded he was the victim of mistaken identify.
By then dozens of victims had come forward to say they had suffered abuse at children’s homes. Victims told how they were sexually abused, beaten and tortured.
Some complained of how their allegations had been investigated by North Wales police at the time. There was also criticism about the scope of an inquiry led by the late Sir Ronald Waterhouse into the whole scandal.
Operation Pallial will provide initial reports and recommendations to Mark Polin, the chief constable of North Wales, and to the home secretary in April. A summary of information will be published.
Officers from Operation Pallial have also been in contact with their opposite numbers working on a review of the Waterhouse inquiry ordered by the government and led by Mrs Justice Wendy Macur.
Source: The Guardian
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