Scores of people have come forward to claim that they were sexually abused as children during the North Wales care home scandal amid a growing number of police inquiries into previously undetected paedophilia in the 1970s and 80s.
Operation Pallial into local authority homes in North Wales said that it had received information from 105 adults living in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland since early November.
Amid persistent rumours that some abusers held positions of authority, detectives said they would follow the evidence “without fear or favour” and would prioritise offenders still working with children.
Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, the senior investigating officer, saidL “All victims of abuse have a right to expect all allegations of abuse, no matter how much time has passed, to be investigated professionally and appropriately. We will do so.”
The tally, revealed in an official statement yesterday, casts further doubt on the findings of the public inquiry by the former High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse into Welsh care homes, which in 2000 identified but did not name 28 alleged sexual abusers of teenaged boys.
Following the disclosure of the late Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia in October, former care home residents living in and around Wrexham suggested that dozens of abusers had escaped justice, prompting the Prime Minister to set up a new police inquiry, Operation Pallial.
Updating the public on its progress, Det Supt Mulcahey, from Merseyside Police, said that since then 105 people had either contacted police directly or agreed to have their details forwarded by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
He said some of what he described as “new allegations of historic child abuse” had come from victims previously known about, and some from victims who had contacted police for the first time.
Stressing that police intended to track down abusers, Det Supt Mulcahey said that if any were still alive “they must be identified, investigated and brought to justice, with those who still have access to children being prioritised.”
Twenty-seven staff are working on Operation Pallial, a joint operation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and North Wales Police - one of three serious inquiries now under way into alleged sexual abuse of children in the 1980s.
Since October, the Metropolitan Police has been carrying out Operation Yewtree into the alleged activities of Savile and other showbusiness figures and have made high-profile arrests.
For a month five officers from Scotland Yard’s child abuse investigation team have been secretly looking into allegations that senior politicians abused children during 1980s, the Independent revealed last week.
Operation Fairbank was set up into the Labour MP Tom Watson claims in the House of Commons in October that the police should re-examine evidence of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”.
Following Mr Watson’s comments, BBC’s wrongly aired allegations of sexual abuse against a former politician - who was named on social media as Lord McAlpine, a former Conservative Party treasurer.
Lord McAlpine, who was innocent, successfully sued the BBC and commentators subsequently suggested that Mr Watson had been responsible for a baseless “witchhunt.”
However, all three live police operations into historic paedophilia are growing. The Metropolitan Police disclosed last week that Operation Yewtree is investigating allegations made by a total of 589 victims, most against Savile; Operation Fairbank has interviewed several witnesses in conditions of utmost secrecy, and, now, Operation Pallial has been inundated with allegations.
In what is thought to be an unrelated matter, Greater Manchester Police said last month that the late Liberal politician Cyril Smith, abused teenaged boys at a care home in Rochdale in the 1960s before becoming an MP.