Investigators back child abuse call

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The Independent Online
The call by the Welsh Secretary, William Hague, for a nationwide inquiry into sexual and physical abuse in children's homes has won strong support from the North Wales team investigating widespread abuse at a Clwyd council home.

This came after Mr Hague wrote to Cabinet colleagues seeking urgent meetings on the need for stricter vetting of staff and management of residential establishments for the young.

His letter follows reports in the Independent on Sunday and the Independent about widespread abuse in North Wales and elsewhere. He says: "As you may have seen, the Independent newspaper has been running a sustained campaign and is beginning to link events in North Wales to other serious examples of child abuse in England and Scotland."

At least 12 councils are now believed to be facing action for damages as a result of alleged abuse suffered by children in homes during the Seventies and Eighties. Ten police forces are involved in investigations.

One London council is facing a claim from four brothers, all now in their thirties, who claim to have suffered abuse at the same home.

Yesterday John Jillings, former director of social services for Derbyshire, who chairs the inquiry team in Clwyd, said: "Although some of the problems we found in Clwyd are peculiar to Wales, there are wider issues which need to be looked at.

"We need to know, for instance, about other less regulated establishments, like boarding schools, boot camps, fostering and so on.

"In the light of extensive reports of abuse in England and Wales, we consider that some kind of forum is desirable to analyse the issues and consider what steps may be desirable to give protection to young people in care."

It is thought that many paedophiles at children's homes in the Seventies and Eighties have moved on to other areas, including residential schools for children with special needs.

Inside Story, page 17