Police quizzed over child assaults

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The Independent Online
Allegations of child abuse were made against both serving and former police officers during the North Wales child abuse inquiry.

The allegations were referred to the Police Complaints Authority, but the PCA decided there was insufficient evidence for any action. The PCA did not hold a so-called supervised inquiry, but examined the case notes.

The team of three child care experts who carried out a two year inquiry into abuse at homes in Clwyd say they are concerned that no mechanism exists for mandatory independent investigations.

The Clwyd report says: "The role of the police in the recent investigation, as in any large child protection inquiry, is crucial. The independent panel is concerned that there appears to be no mechanism to ensure that independent investigations are conducted of allegations made against former and serving police officers and that the police authority handling of investigations can in some circumstances avoid public scrutiny."

Later the report says that the police took 3,755 statements during the inquiry, and adds: "Of the number of statements taken, it is not clear how many were forwarded to the prosecution service for consideration. It is also unclear how many other professionals, including police officers, were named in the statements as perpetrators of assaults."

A spokesman for North Wales Police said yesterday: "In the context of the Jillings report, all allegations were investigated and the case papers submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. Allegations against serving officers were additionally examined by the independent Police Complaints Authority.

"The [Jillings] report's comments on police complaints falls into the category of general misunderstanding."

A PCA spokesman said: "Allegations of child abuse were made against both serving and former police officers in the North Wales abuse inquiry but were not substantiated.

"We saw all the cases and went right through them. We believe they were investigated to the best of the ability of the police service given the very long passage of time. It was not a supervised inquiry. They were internal inquiries but when they were completed they were examined by the PCA."

It also emerged yesterday that the Government and council officials are to study the case of a former children's home manager jailed in Glasgow for 15 years for a catalogue of abuse against boys. Peter Harley, 50, of Cardiff, had admitted at a previous hearing 17 indecency charges involving boys aged six to 16, over a five-year period from 1977-1982.

At the High Court in Glasgow the judge, Lord Weir, said the case raised the questions of how such a man came be in charge of a children's home - and why the children were unable to get help over the years of abuse.

Four Labour MPs will today meet William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, to call for the publication of the report by a team chaired by John Jillings, former director of social work in Derbyshire.

The deputation, led by Labour's health spokesman in Wales, Rhodri Morgan, will also press Mr Hague to accept the main recommendation of the Jillings report that there should be a public judicial inquiry.

Mr Hague has told the five councils which took over from Clwyd in local government reorganisation at the end of last month to urgently look at producing a publishable copy of the report.

The panel is likely to agree to work with the council, but is expected to seek reassurances on the levels of co-operation they get, and about whether or not they are covered by insurance indemnity.

The report claims that the team did not get all the co-operation they wanted while they were collecting evidence for the report.

One page says: "Our investigation was limited by a number of constraining factors. It was unclear to what extent material held by the North Wales Police might be available to the independent panel, for example witness statements.

"Some former members of staff and members of staff representing other organisations declined to meet with the independent panel."