Government launch two inquiries to review historical child sex abuse allegations
The UK government announced it will launch two high-level inquiries into child abuse. In a Commons statement, Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs: “I want to address two important public concerns. First, that in the 1980s the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse and, second, that public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children.”
Prime minister David Cameron has promised that no stone will be left unturned after days of media pressure for a wide-range inquiry.
The first probe will examine public bodies’ neglect of child abuse claims in the past. The decision to investigate has been prompted by the failures in the recent child sex abuse cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
A panel of experts in the law and child protection will evaluate whether public bodies and non-state institutions have fulfilled their duty to protect children from sexual abuses.
Retired senior judge Elisabeth Butler-Sloss, who led the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the late 1980s, has been appointed as chairman.
Mark Sedwill, the Home Office’s top civil servant, was questioned on the matter by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and declared that the review had found no evidence that they had been removed or destroyed “inappropriately”.
The inquiry is most probably not going to report back until after the 2015 general election.
Children charity National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)’s CEO, Peter Wanless, is going to lead a second inquiry on how police and prosecutors handled information given to them at the time. The review is expected to turn into a report within eight to ten weeks.