Child sex abuse victims given power to challenge if cases are shelved

New measures to address high-profile failures in child-grooming cases and Jimmy Savile scandal

Victims of child sex abuse can appeal against decisions by the criminal justice system to shelve their cases under new measures to address high-profile failures by the authorities in child-grooming cases and the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Alleged child sex abuse in a religious institution is one of four complaints set for scrutiny by a new panel which can advise police and prosecutors to re-open their books on a case that had previously failed to reach the courts.

The move was announced by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, as he apologised to victims who had been let down by the authorities in the past.

The unmasking of Jimmy Savile as a serial sex offender and a series of other scandals, including the failure to identify grooming gangs and the death of professional violinist Frances Andrade, who killed herself after giving evidence in court about a former abusive teacher, highlighted the need for changes to the way child sex abuse cases were handled.

The new guidance released today focuses on the needs of the victims and the importance of not dismissing their complaints, particularly if they have had troubled backgrounds, such as gang activity.

It stresses that there should be no bar to therapy for victims before their cases come to court, a complaint of the family of Ms Andrade.

It also says there is no bar to victims being told that they are not the only ones to have made complaints of abuse. Reviews of police inquiries into Jimmy Savile revealed that victims were not told about other complaints about the former BBC DJ, making them unwilling to speak out against such a powerful figure.

The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, said: "I accept that in the past the wrong approach was taken. When the Savile report was published I apologised then to victims in that case and I will extend it to other victims. The approach in the past was not good enough."

A new panel will sit for the first time in July to examine complaints by four people - including two about the same person - about cases that never came to court in a process that officials expect to expand rapidly in the coming years.

The five-strong panel - which will include senior police, prosecutors and the NSPCC - will examine cases where a complaint was made of childhood sex abuse but where the case was dropped and the alleged perpetrator may still pose a risk. One of the complaints has already prompted police to re-open the case before it reached the panel.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star