Police make first arrest in North Wales children's homes abuse inquiry


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The Independent Online

A man has been arrested by officers investigating allegations of serious sexual abuse at care homes in North Wales, police have confirmed.

The arrest is the first made by detectives who are looking at the widespread allegations, which date from the 1970s and 80s.

The man, who was arrested in Ipswich under “Operation Pallial”, has been taken for questioning in North Wales, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said. Police said he has been accused of “a number of serious sexual offences against a number of individuals”. Soca refused to reveal his identity or age.

The investigation, which is being run by police forces across the county, was set up in November last year to look into specific and recent allegations of abuse which is said to have taken place as much as 43 years ago. Officers said that more than 100 victims came forward within a month of the investigation opening.

Pallial is being led by Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey of Merseyside Police, supported by officers and staff from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre. The officer with overall responsibility for Operation Pallial is Keith Bristow, Director General of the National Crime Agency. A report on the progress of the investigation will be published next Monday, police said.

A public inquiry that looked at the abuse scandal is also being reviewed. The Waterhouse Inquiry was set up in 2000 to look at claims linked to homes in the former council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974.

But victims have since said that the inquiry examined only a fraction of the abuse that took place.

High Court judge Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur is leading the review, which will look at whether specific allegations were not investigated, and urged alleged victims and all other interested parties to give further evidence.