Abuse inquiry police call for 400 to come forward

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The Independent Online
Police appealed to 400 former residents of a Cardiff children's home yesterday to use confidential telephone hotlines to pass on information in a major investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

South Wales detectives also want to interview more than 100 social services staff who had connections with the former Taff Vale home at Whitchurch, Cardiff, between 1985 and 1991, when the home was closed. Former residents and staff were urged to make contact with the police as soon as possible.

Former residents of the council-run home will now be young men and women aged between 16 and 27. Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Jones, head of South Wales CID, told a news conference: "For these young people it will possibly be the only real practical opportunity they have had over the last six years to speak about what might have been going on there."

The investigation follows suspicions that paedophiles preyed on vulnerable children at the short-stay care and assessment home for 10- to 16-year- olds.

Ten detectives, male and female, will be assisted by social services staff and counsellors from Cardiff County Council. John Jevons, director of social services and former director in Clwyd, the scene of Britain's biggest abuse scandal, said that the investigation related only to Taff Vale and not to any other current or former home.

A former Cardiff social worker, Geoffrey Morris, was jailed for five years last Monday for sexually abusing three boys aged 12, 15 and 16 while employed as a residential worker at the Taff Vale home. Morris had abused his position at the home, the prosecution told Cardiff Crown Court.

Mr Jones said the case was a factor in the investigation, but police had received other information. He said: "Our concern is for individuals who may have been abused in the past and who ... decided not to make a formal complaint ... I am appealing to them: please, take the opportunity to contact us."

Mr Jevons said that the council's own preliminary inquiry into possible mistreatment had led it to ask for further police investigation. It is understood that after two care workers raised the issue of possible abuse, the home's log books of complaints were examined by senior social services staff, after which Mr Jevons decided to call in the police.

Deborah Jones, of Voices from Care, a group which helps former residents of care homes, said: "It would not surprise me if the South Wales police investigation eventually extended beyond the Taff Vale home. We have heard of incidents of abuse in Cardiff children's homes over a considerable period of time. We welcome this investigation and will try to help."

The investigation follows the long-running scandal of abuse in Clwyd homes which led to the jailing of former care workers and the setting up of a tribunal chaired by the former High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse. The tribunal has its first meeting next Tuesday.

8 The telephone number for former residents of the home to ring is 01222 571535, 9am to 10pm.