Police rejected independent sex abuse inquiry

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The Independent Online
North Wales Police refused to allow an outside force to investigate allegations of child abuse against some of their own serving and retired officers, the unpublished report into the Clwyd child abuse scandal reveals.

The suggestion that an outside force should look into the case was made by HM Inspector of Constabulary, according to a confidential Home Office letter which the report quotes. But the then Chief Constable of North Wales "resisted" the idea.

The long-running police inquiry into child sex abuse in children's homes run by Clwyd County Council revealed Britain's biggest-ever child abuse scandal, with between 100 and 200 victims. Clwyd's own report into the affair, by child care expert John Jillings and two colleagues, was suppressed by the council at the behest of its insurers. The Welsh Secretary, William Hague, is considering publishing it. The Independent on Sunday has seen a copy.

During the inquiry, allegations were made against police officers, both serving and retired, and the report reveals that pressure for an independent police inquiry was made.

"The chairman of Clwyd social services and the county secretary and solicitor have consistently pressed for the Chief Constable of North Wales Police and the Minister of State at the Home Office to accept that it was inappropriate for the North Wales Police to themselves investigate profoundly serious allegations by young people directed against members of the police force," it says.

The report goes on: "In a letter from the private secretary to the Home Office to the county secretary and solicitor on May 17, 1993, it is made clear that: 'Ministers cannot intervene in police operational matters, nor, do they have any powers to direct a chief constable to appoint an officer from outside the force to take over or to supervise a police investigation.

" 'The then chief constable of North Wales Police has resisted the suggestion of HM Inspector of Constabulary that the appointment of an officer from outside the force would dispel any local disquiet about the objectivity of the investigation'."

A North Wales Police spokesman said yesterday: "Where police officers or ex-police officers are featured in any allegation, however tenuously, the files are referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions and in the case of serving officers, also to the Police Complaints Authority.

"Both the DPP and the PCA have publicly expressed their satisfaction with the thoroughness, impartiality, and professionalism of the North Wales Police investigation."

Although the Welsh Office has still to decide whether there should be a public inquiry into the abuse over 21 years at homes in North Wales, the Home Office letter shows that three years ago the ministry was under the impression that there was going to be a public inquiry and even knew some of its terms of reference.