Clwyd failed to spot 20 years of child abuse

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Britain's biggest child sex-abuse scandal involving children's homes developed unseen in a climate of mistakes, failings, and confusion, says the secret report into the scandal, extracts of which are published exclusively today in the Independent.

The report's damning indictment is that all the clues that abuse was going on were there for 20 years, but no one spotted them. A number of agencies, including the Welsh Office, police and professionals, come in for criticism in the report, which has still not been published by Clwyd County Council.

As well as seeking a judicial inquiry, the report calls for a full and urgent inquiry into the police investigation of complaints of child physical and sexual abuse in Clwyd's residential homes, similar to that carried out by the Police Complaints Authority after the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire.

The report also criticises the Welsh Office over a number of issues, including the numbers of homes inspected and for refusing the request of the director of social services for an inspection of one home where there had been abuse.

The criticism of the Welsh Office social services inspectorate makes it increasingly uncomfortable for William Hague, Secretary of State for Wales, who has to decide what action to take.

A full judicial inquiry could go much further in its investigation of the scandal which has been linked to the later deaths of 12 young men, some through suicide.

The report's authors also urge the setting up of a new national database to track the networking of child sex offenders so that once an arrest is made, all contacts can be traced and checked.

Too little too late, page 7