Letter: Role of police in child protection

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The Independent Online
Sir: Beatrix Campbell ('The women they didn't listen to', 19 July) conveniently omits all the evidence from recent independent inquiries on the subject of child abuse.

That evidence largely dispels her beliefs and her past insistence that satanic abuse was a key feature in the Broxtowe case in Nottingham. Of course, she makes no reference to the key findings in the Orkney and Rochdale cases - and more particularly, the findings of the recent study by Jean Fontaine.

The main points I publicly made a few years ago are still valid. It is dangerous for social workers to take action purely on belief systems or to deprive a parent of a child without adequate investigation.

And the search for evidence is abuse of a different type. The most careful investigative techniques should be employed in order to prevent contamination of a child's evidence.

Professor Fontaine investigated 83 cases of child abuse and found no evidence of satanic motivation. This, and other findings, were not the result of a police investigation but an independent inquiry. Relevant information and files were made available by the police in Nottinghamshire to the inquiry team.

Ms Campbell makes reference to the former Chief Executive's report in Nottinghamshire, and while I can understand extracts from the report being quoted as fact, the report was incorrect in a number of crucial respects. I will merely quote two:

We do not have a diminishing role in child protection, as evidenced by the fact that the number of cases dealt with by the police has more than doubled in the last two years.

The Nottinghamshire Police has the largest child protection team (the Family Support Unit) of any county force in England and Wales.

Whether one is dealing with a child abuse case or that of Abbie Humphries, before a baby or child is removed from any home, the police need evidence.

We have repeatedly said that evidence surrounding the visits to the house in Wollaton (where Abbie Humphries was found) will form part of police evidence in the criminal trial.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Constable

Nottinghamshire Constabulary


19 July