Child abuse file 'not withheld' from police

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The Independent Online
GWYNEDD County Council, one of two Welsh local authorities at the centre of a protracted police investigation into allegations of child abuse, yesterday denied that it had withheld crucial information from detectives.

It had been alleged that a file containing photographs of a badly beaten child in care had lain in a file at the council's Caernarvon headquarters for six years before police found it this year.

That prompted the council to set up an internal investigation which has concluded that the information was passed to North Wales police in 1986. Huw Thomas, the authority's chief executive, said the council's inquiry clearly showed that the facts were reported within days to a meeting of a co-ordinating committee on child abuse.

The committee regularly brings together representatives of interested parties, including the health authority, social services and the probation service. The police were invited but did not send a representative, Mr Thomas said. However, the minutes of the meeting were sent to the force.

A spokesman for North Wales police said last night: 'We cannot comment for legal and operational reasons.'

A 30-strong team of detectives is investigating allegations of sexual and physical abuse at children's homes in the counties of Gwynedd and Clwyd. The inquiry is believed to be the largest of its kind in Britain and police have taken more than 1,500 statements.

Allegations have been made against three serving and two former police officers. The Chief Constable of North Wales, David Owen, told his police authority earlier this week that no allegations of sexual abuse were being made against serving officers.

A Roman Catholic boys' home, St William's in Market Weighton, Humberside, is being investigated by police and social services after allegations of child abuse.

Police said yesterday that they plan to interview boys and staff. The investigation is 'at a preliminary stage' and is believed to have been triggered by a previous investigation into child abuse in the Humberside area.

A statement by St William's last night said: 'In the matter of any allegation . . . all staff here will act with fierce determination that the truth will prevail.'