29 Apr 2013

North Wales child abuse: 140 alleged victims

Police find “significant evidence of systemic and serious sexual and physical abuse of children” at north Wales care homes, including 140 allegations of offences against seven to 19 year olds.

North Wales Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency were reporting the progress of Operation Pallial, the investigation into the abuse of children in north Wales care homes between 1963 and 1992.

Since the investigation was triggered, alleged victims have come forward with 140 claims of abuse against a total of 84 individuals – covering locations in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

The 140 complainants can be divided into three groups: those who have made allegations to the police before but are providing more information, those who have spoken with the police before but not made allegations, and those who are new complainants. 76 of the 140 were new complainants.

The report said that there had been multiple allegations made against 16 people. Ten of these 16 are dead.

Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, who is leading Operation Pallial, said: “Almost everyone that Operation Pallial is aware of has now been video interviewed by specially trained officers. Many have provided graphic accounts of abuse, in some cases of very serious criminality.

“These are serious allegations that will be thoroughly investigated. We are prioritising our activities to ensure that any level of ongoing risk to the public is minimised.”

Operation Pallial has now conducted video interviews with 122 out of the complainants, whilst the remaining 18 have been unavailable or are reluctant to continue with their allegations.

An extract of the Operation Pallial progress report

And North Wales Police Chief Constable Mark Polin said it was “never too late” to report abuse and urged anyone who has not come forward yet, to do so. He also told offenders they should “look over their shoulders”.

He said: “If you believe that the passage of time will reduce the resolve of Operation Pallial or any police force to identify people still alive who have caused harm to others and bring them to justice, you are are sorely mistaken.

“People who commit serious and sexual offences should live with the knowledge that we will always examine new information and evidence and seek to bring them to justice for their crimes.

“Offenders should quite rightly have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives.”

The video evidence provided “graphic accounts of serious criminality”, the report said. It added that “a common theme from complainants’ accounts is that they have previously been reluctant to make allegations or co-operate with investigations through fear of not being believed or taken seriously.”

Of the 140 complainants, 125 are male and 15 are female and of the 84 it is alleged carried out the abuse, 75 are male and nine are female.

The operation was triggered by a Newsnight episode in which Steven Messham alleged he was abused as a child whilst in the north Wales care home system.

Mr Messham also alleged that the Waterhouse Inquiry had failed to uncover the full extent of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. As well as Pallial, an independent review, teh Macur Review, is being conducted into the Waterhouse inquiry.

Operation Pallial will now move to its second phase, which will involve “taking appropriate action” based on the allegations, in liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service. North Wales Police has asked the National Crime Agency to continue Operation pallial’s work to the second phase.