- The unprecedented scale of current police investigations into historic child abuse can be revealed for the first time!
- Senior officers warn of the challenge of investigating the alleged crimes !
- More than 2,000 people have come forward in the wake of Savile scandal to say they were abused at institutions!
- Staggering 1,200 of the alleged victims were inmates of just one institution!
The unprecedented scale of current police investigations into historic child abuse can be revealed for the first time today, as senior officers warn of the challenge of investigating alleged crimes that go back decades.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that:
- Forces around Britain are carrying out more than 60 major investigations into sex attacks and beatings in schools, children’s homes and churches dating back to the 1950s.
- More than 2,000 people have come forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to say they were abused at institutions or by public figures, including prominent politicians.
- A staggering 1,200 of the alleged victims were inmates of just one institution, a northern borstal once visited by the late Home Secretary Leon Brittan and praised for its ‘short, sharp shock’ regime. He himself is now at the centre of a number of abuse claims.
- The first chairman of the troubled Government inquiry into historic abuse has warned of the ‘vast task’ of investigating the spiralling allegations.
The cases are putting police forces – already struggling to deal with 20 per cent budget cuts at the same time as an explosion in online crimes and a heightened terrorism threat – under huge strain as the operations are complex and evidence is difficult to find.
The investigations could expand further when victims give their testimony to the long-delayed public inquiry into historic abuse, which will finally begin in earnest next week as judge Lowell Goddard arrives from New Zealand.
REVEALED: HORRIFIC EXPLOSION OF HISTORIC SEX CASES SINCE SAVILE
1. Detention centres
Durham police’s biggest-ever investigation is looking into physical and sexual abuse of more than 1,000 inmates at Medomsley youth detention centre near Consett.
Officers are trying to track down people who worked there in the 1970s and 1980s as well as alleged victims.
Accused: Two former guards at the centre, Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson, were jailed more than a decade ago and both have since died. Sixteen other members of staff have been questioned in the new inquiry.
The late Liberal MP Cyril Smith
Victims: A staggering 1,123 people who were held at the unit have told police they were abused there. One of them, Kevin Young, says he showed his injuries to officers when released from Medomsley as a teenager but was told it was illegal to make such allegations against prison guards.
Pupils of Underley Hall, a school for ‘troubled boys’ near Kendal, and Witherslack Hall School for special needs pupils in Grange-over-Sands say they were abused between the 1970s and 1990s.
Accused: An ex- teacher killed himself after denying abuse allegations. The late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, who escaped prosecution for abusing boys at homes in his native Rochdale, was known to be a regular visitor.
Victims: At least 20 former pupils say they were abused at the two schools. Joseph Ryan, who was at Underley Hall in the early 1980s, said it was a ‘brutal’ regime that often involved boys being stripped of their clothes.
3. The church
OPERATION DUNHILL & OPERATION PERRY
Allegations of safeguarding failures by clergy in the Church of England diocese of Chichester in the 1970s and 1980s were the subject of a report carried out by Baroness Butler-Sloss. Police have carried out two recent investigations, plus an unrelated one into a prestigious prep school.
Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, pictured above with Prince Charles, will stand trial later this year
Accused: Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, above, will stand trial later this year accused of ‘misusing his position and authority to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification’.
Victims: Current allegations concern more than 20 alleged victims. One, Phil Johnson, said he was abused by one priest, now dead, in a ‘regular and systematic’ way because ‘nobody questioned his motives’.
The Met are investigating the murder of three boys including Martin Allen
Probe into ‘serious, organised sexual abuse and possible murder’ of three boys, including Martin Allen, in 1970s and 1980s. Centres around Dolphin Square, near Westminster, where many MPs lived.
Accused: Home Secretary Leon Brittan, who died in January, ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor and ex-military chief Lord Bramall. They deny any wrongdoing.
Victims: A man known as ‘Nick’ says he was chauffeur-driven to parties over nine years where he was abused by VIP paedophiles and claims he watched while a Tory MP strangled a 12-year-old boy.
The MET & South Yorkshire Police
After Jimmy Savile’s exposure as a prolific paedophile, allegations were made against many public figures. Rolf Harris and Max Clifford were jailed but others were released without charge.
Accused: An investigation is ongoing concerning Sir Cliff Richard, after a man said the pop star had assaulted him after a Christian rally in Sheffield in the 1980s.
Victims: It is thought three people have now made allegations against Sir Cliff. He said: ‘I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail.’
Police are investigating Sir Cliff Richard, after a man said the pop star had assaulted him in the 1980s
6. Children's homes
OPERATION DAYBREAK & OPERATION XERES
189 former residents of 18 children’s homes in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire say they were abused between the 1950s and 1980s.
Accused: 11 people have been arrested. Last week, social worker Andy Logins, 56, was charged with rape, indecent assault and causing injury.
Victims: Award-winning actress Samantha Morton, who grew up in residential care, says two men abused her at the Red Tiles home near Nottingham. She said last year: ‘I thought they were really nice people, so I was actually really shocked when it happened.’
Whistleblower: Actress Samantha Morton accused two men of abusing her while she was in care
7. Humberside Police
1 investigation. St William’s children’s home near Beverley. 150 victims. 6 arrests, 3 charges.
8. West Yorkshire Police
5 investigations. 1 at St Stephen’s Church in Kirkstall, Leeds. At least 1 victim and 1 suspect.
9. Greater Manchester Police
4 investigations. Knowl View and Cambridge House children’s homes, Rochdale; Broome House care home, Didsbury; Woodend children’s home, Wigan. 106
victims. 36 arrests.
10. Cheshire Police
9 investigations. One at Terra Nova prep school near Crewe. 49 victims. 6 arrests.
11. National Crime Agency
North Wales care homes. 307 victims. 41 arrests, 15 charges.
12. Norfolk Police
6 investigations. Sheringham Court School, Sheringham, Eccles Hall School, Quidenham. 6 victims. 2 arrests.
13. Leicestershire Police
2 investigations. Ex-MP Lord Janner and Roecliffe Manor home near Loughborough. 20 victims. 0 arrests.
14. Warks & W Mercia Police
4 investigations. One at Manor Court Children’s Home in Nuneaton. Victims unknown. 3 arrests.
15. Northamptonshire Police
1 investigation into Cyril Smith
16. Bedfordshire Police
St Francis’ Boys’ Home, Shefford. 67 victims. 2 arrests.
17. Suffolk Police
3 investigations at schools at Great Finborough, Stowmarket and Kesgrave. 100 victims. 6 arrests.
18. Dyfed-Powys Police
Rhydygors School, Carmarthen. 20 victims. 6 arrests.
19. Gwent Police
2 investigations at Chepstow schools. 19 victims. 0 arrests.
20. South Wales Police
1 investigation. Late Commons Speaker Lord Tonypandy, Cardiff. 1 victim. 0 arrests.
21. Avon & Somerset Bristol care home
1 victim. 0 arrests.
22. Surrey Police
1 investigation. Walton Hop disco. At least 20 victims. 0 arrests.
23. Kent Police
Swaylands School, Tonbridge. 24 victims. 5 arrests, 3 on trial
24. The Met
11 investigations. At least 37 victims. 28 arrests, 19 charged.
Such is the scale of the task of investigating ‘persons of public prominence’ and institutions, police last year set up the over-arching Operation Hydrant to co-ordinate work and share advice.
It will publish details of its activities in May, but The Mail on Sunday has obtained details of most forces’ inquiries.
In London alone, there are 11 investigations that have seen the downfall of once-loved household names, but also led to accusations of a celebrity witch-hunt.
Scotland Yard established Operation Yewtree in 2012 after Jimmy Savile was exposed after his death, and Rolf Harris, Max Clifford and Gary Glitter have since been jailed.
The sprawling Operation Fairbank was set up after campaigning MP Tom Watson told a stunned Commons that there was intelligence suggesting a ‘powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10’. Suspicions were raised when it emerged that the Home Office had lost a dossier on VIP child abusers handed to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan 30 years ago.
He found himself at the centre of the scandal last year. A woman claimed he raped her as a teenager in the 1960s, while his links to abuse inquiry chairman Fiona Woolf forced her to quit. After he died in January, police raided his homes. Watson said Brittan stood accused of ‘multiple child rape’.
Several forces are now investigating cases involving Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP who escaped prosecution in his lifetime despite numerous claims he had spanked or sexually assaulted boys.
Greater Manchester Police is carrying out four investigations into historic abuse, one of which covers the Knowl View boys’ home Smith helped run in the 1960s.
Cheshire Police’s investigations involve a school where Smith was said to be a regular overnight visitor, while Northampton Police is looking into claims he was let off despite being caught in possession of child abuse images on the M1.
The biggest single inquiry is Durham Constabulary’s Operation Seabrook. So far 1,123 former inmates of the Medomsley detention centre near Consett have said they were abused by staff.
Baroness Butler-Sloss warned the task of investigating the allegations could be overwhelming
Judge who quit: It's too vast a task
The first head of the child abuse inquiry has warned that the ‘vast task’ of investigating the ever-growing allegations risks becoming overwhelming.
Former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss was announced as chairman last July but quit within days over alleged conflicts of interest.
Her replacement, Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, also quit after The Mail on Sunday revealed she was friends with Leon Brittan, the ex-Home Secretary at the centre of cover-up allegations.
Next week, the third chairman, New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, will arrive in London to begin work on the inquiry, which could last as long as five years and cost more than £200 million.
Lady Butler-Sloss said she felt ‘very sorry’ for her successor.
‘She is going to have a really difficult job. The Government appears to be asking her to tackle too many issues at once.
‘She has got a vast task and I fear unless she is selective, which is of course entirely a matter for her, she may just find it too much.’
However she added that Justice Goddard was an ‘excellent choice’ as an experienced judge who was ‘outside the establishment’.
Lady Butler-Sloss admitted that the child abuse allegations were not taken seriously enough in years gone by. ‘I sat on various inquiries, including the Cleveland inquiry in 1987, where it was perfectly obvious that a lot of people were what the social workers call in denial.
‘They would not believe that nice people who were their next-door neighbours could behave like that. They absolutely could not believe it. In the 21st Century, we have come to realise it is true.
‘People did not recognise this was a serious matter and it had to be investigated.’