- Goddard inquiry was launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal
- Examining how public bodies handled duty to protect children from abuse
- Inquiry is passing on 100 child sex cases to police each month, officer said
- Estimated that officers will be looking into some 200,000 claims by 2020
One hundred allegations of child sex abuse are being passed to police every month as part of an inquiry launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, a senior officer has revealed.
Simon Bailey, head of the police unit co-ordinating claims of historic child sex abuse in England and Wales, said he expected to be handed a total of 30,000 new reports by the Goddard inquiry.
The Norfolk Chief Constable also estimated that officers would be looking into about 200,000 claims of child sex abuse by 2020, given the current trajectory.
Mr Bailey told the Guardian: ‘It is fair to say I am surprised by the extent of abuse being exposed, it is shocking. In trying to get a message across to the public about the scale of this, it is important to remember that behind each of these figures there is a victim. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of referrals each month from the Goddard inquiry, and these allegations relate to abuse in a range of institutions from the church, to schools, the scouts and hospitals.’
The inquiry, chaired by Dame Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand Judge, will examine how public bodies handled their duty of care to protect children from abuse.
It is holding 13 investigations into abuse at institutions including Westminster, the Catholic Church, Church of England and Lambeth borough.
It is also investigating grooming and sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Devon, Cornwall, Oxford and Rotherham and at the Medomsley detention centre in Durham.
A further 12 investigations will be run as part of the inquiry, and most of the 25 total investigations will lead to public hearings.
As part of its nationwide ‘truth project’, the inquiry opened new offices in Manchester on Thursday, inviting victims of abuse to come forward and speak about their experiences, many of which have remained silent for decades.Two thousand victims have already come forward to give details on their abuse, and a further 600 have said they would provide their full testimony to the truth project.Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive officer for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told the Guardian: ‘We have lifted the lid on a hidden problem, now survivors are coming forward in large numbers.
Investigation: The Goddard inquiry, chaired by Dame Lowell Goddard (pictured), a New Zealand Judge, will examine how public bodies handled their duty of care to protect children from abuse
‘These people were failed by institutions in childhood. They deserve to be heard now.’ Mr Bailey’s comments about the scale of alleged abuse claims come after criticism of the police following the Operation Midland debacle.In March this year, the £2 million, 16-month police inquiry into historical child abuse was shut down without any charges being brought.Officers had earlier claimed the accusations against figures including former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor and head of the Army, D-Day hero Lord Bramall, were credible and true.There were calls for three of the country’s most senior police officers to resign, after no charges were brought against any of the former government officers, politicians or military officers said to be involved. dailymail
20 May 2016 • 3:45pm
At first sight, the figures are jaw-dropping: police in England and Wales are preparing to deal with 30,000 new cases of child sexual abuse. Reports are being passed to the police at a rate of 100 a month by the Goddard inquiry, which was set up after the exposure of Jimmy Savile. One senior officer told the Guardian he predicts that police will be investigating 200,000 cases across the country by 2020.
Some critics will regard these figures with scepticism, pointing to the botched inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse against a number of public figures, which has now been wound up. But the mishandling of that investigation does not mean we can ignore a mounting body of evidence that the scale of child sexual abuse is much greater than most people ever suspected.
The figure of 30,000 comes from Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk and head of the national coordinating unit, Operation Hydrant, which is handling reports passed on by the Goddard inquiry. Justice Lowell Goddard is in charge of 13 investigations involving a number of institutions, including the Church, Westminster, the borough of Lambeth and a detention centre in Durham, along with allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Devon, Cornwall, Oxford and Rotherham.
This is a very dark picture of childhood and it is not surprising that some people are reluctant to acknowledge it
Two thousand victims have already contacted the Goddard inquiry and 600 have said they are willing to speak to its ‘truth project’, which was set up hear detailed testimony of childhood abuse.
Bailey says he is surprised and shocked by the extent of the abuse being exposed. He’s right to be – we should never lose our capacity to be shocked by crimes against the most vulnerable individuals in society. But this is not the first indication that the scale of child sexual abuse has been hidden from sight for decades.
In November last year, the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, published a report which estimated there were between 400,000 and 450,000 victims of child sexual abuse in England between April 2012 and March 2014. The NSPCC estimates that for every child known to be in need of protection from abuse, another eight are suffering in silence.
This is a very dark picture of childhood and it is not surprising that some people are reluctant to acknowledge it.
But two things have come together to tear away the veil of secrecy. Operation Yewtree, the inquiry which uncovered the staggering extent of Savile’s crimes, concluded that he had targeted 450 victims and committed more than 30 rapes.
At the same times, the activities of gangs of men who sexually exploited under-age girls have been exposed in Rotherham, Derby, Rochdale, Oxford and other towns. None of these problems was on the radar 10 years ago, and a handful of people who told the police they had been assaulted by Savile or tried to expose ‘grooming’ gangs were ignored.
The idea that there is a pool of thousands of victims of child sexual abuse up and down the country is all too plausible, I’m afraid. In London, senior officers are already contemplating the possibility that they may have to handle as many as 15,000 new cases as a direct result of the Goddard inquiry.
But the implications for victims and the criminal justice system are even wider.
Child sexual abuse is not the only crime that has been vastly under-reported for decades; senior police officers believe that only one in five rapes is ever reported, and the same is likely to be true of serious sexual assaults. More women are going to the police than ever before, but low conviction rates and lack of confidence in the prosecution process still deter many victims.
Like the failure over many years to properly investigate child sexual abuse, this is nothing short of a scandal
They are more likely to contact a rape crisis line to ask for advice and support, and organisations that work with victims see many more women and girls than the police.
They have argued for years that most rapists get away with their crimes, creating a pool of women who never see their attackers punished.
In London, almost 16,000 sexual offences were reported to the police last year, along with 5,410 rapes. If those figures represent only a fifth of the total, the true picture is likely to be very different: more like 80,000 sexual assaults and 27,000 rapes. The true number of rape victims in London alone each year is probably around the size of a small town, while a staggering number of perpetrators are walking around, free to commit further offences.
Like the failure over many years to properly investigate child sexual abuse, this is nothing short of a scandal.
The Goddard inquiry is finally beginning to make amends to children for years of neglect, but what it is uncovering applies just as much to adult victims of rape and sexual assault. The time for a public inquiry into how those cases are investigated is long overdue. The Telegraph
Exclusive: Extent of child sexual abuse in England and Wales begins to become clear as inquiry passes on 100 cases a month
The scale of child sexual abuse in England and Wales is being exposed by evidence from thousands of victims, with cases being passed to police at a rate of 100 a month by the public inquiry set up following the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable and head of the national coordinating unit Operation Hydrant, said his team was expecting to be given 30,000 reports of new child sexual offences by the Goddard inquiry, and predicted the rate of referrals of allegations of abuse would increase.
The chief constable said that given the trajectory of the number of reports, police would be investigating about 200,000 cases of child sexual abuse by 2020, giving an insight into the extent of child sexual abuse in Britain over many decades.
Bailey added: “It is fair to say I am surprised by the extent of abuse being exposed, it is shocking. In trying to get a message across to the public about the scale of this, it is important to remember that behind each of these figures there is a victim.
“We are seeing a significant rise in the number of referrals each month from the Goddard inquiry, and these allegations relate to abuse in a range of institutions from the church, to schools, the scouts and hospitals.”
Justice Lowell Goddard is running 13 investigations into institutional abuse, which include inquiries concerning Westminster, the Catholic Church, Church of England, and Lambeth borough, and concerning grooming and sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Devon, Cornwall, Oxford and Rotherham, and at the Medomsley detention centre in Durham.
Another 12 investigations will be pursued during the inquiry. Most of these 25 investigations will lead to public hearings.
Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive officer for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “We have lifted the lid on a hidden problem, now survivors are coming forward in large numbers. These people were failed by institutions in childhood. They deserve to be heard now. Why were signs of child abuse ignored, unrecognised or unreported? The insight survivors have is vital in shaping how our institutions protect children in future.”
On Thursday, the Goddard inquiry opened new offices in Manchester as part of its nationwide “truth project”, which invites victims of abuse to give detailed testimony of their experiences. In many cases these experiences have stayed unspoken about for decades.
Two thousand victims have already contacted the inquiry to give details about experiences of child sexual abuse, and about 600 have already indicated that they would give their full testimony to the truth project.
In Australia where a royal commission into child abuse is being held, the numbers of people who have come forward has surpassed predictions. Bailey said that the same would be true of the Goddard hearings.
Referrals to Bailey’s team on Operation Hydrant stem from allegations made by victims contacting the inquiry and through the investigations being carried out by the inquiry team.
“These referrals are allegations which are new to the police,” said Bailey. “Where there are criminal investigations they will be passed to the relevant police force. What we are seeing is that the face of crime has fundamentally changed and it means we have had to move our resources to crimes against the vulnerable [and concerning] child abuse, adult abuse and rape.”
The huge increase in reports of child abuse to the police – a rise of 80% between 2012 and 2015 – was continuing, Bailey added. Police forces across England and Wales investigated 70,000 cases of child sexual abuse last year and 25% of the investigations were into non-recent abuse.
The chief constable said that the rise in investigations was due not just to increased reporting but to more children being abused, with the internet acting as a facilitator for paedophiles to contact children. He has commissioned research in an attempt to establish whether this is correct.
The enormous draw on police resources of these investigations comes as a severe spending squeeze on police budgets continues.
Last week Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, issued new guidance to remind police that her lawyers would not make charging decisions in relation to dead perpetrators, implying that police were not aware of the ruling that the dead could not be charged with criminal offences.
Bailey defended the police from criticism. “It is vital that the police investigate allegations of child sexual abuse thoroughly and proportionately, whether the alleged crimes took place last week or many years ago,” he said. “Victims who report abuse by someone who is now dead have the same expectation that their allegations will be taken seriously and that they will have recourse to justice. Police also need to determine whether the alleged offender may have worked with others who are still alive and could pose a risk today.”
He added that age was no bar to people committing child abuse, citing examples of cases in which men in their 90s were under investigation for abuse.
This week, Theresa May, the home secretary, spoke out against those who said police should only concentrate on current crimes. “Perpetrators must never be allowed to think that their horrific acts will go overlooked or go unpunished … Victims and survivors … deserve to be heard now, just as they should have been years ago, and they deserve justice, just as they did then,” she said.