Letter;Cheshire welcomes inquiry but the publicity could help abusers

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The Independent Online
As chairman of Cheshire social services I welcomed the Government's plans for a national inquiry into child abuse in childrens' homes - something Cheshire County Council has urged for some time.

I hope we will have the opportunity to give evidence at an early stage in the inquiry so we can highlight the good practice here which has led to successful prosecutions of people involved in child abuse. Successful prosecutions are essential if child abuse is to be stamped out - and anything which prejudices those prosecutions is to be deplored.

Much as I welcome your newspaper's desire to see paedophiles removed from contact with children, I fear your exposure ("300 victims in secret child sex scandal", 9 June) may well have quite the opposite effect.

For the cases pending around the country, including several involving Cheshire people, your article may well be considered to have reduced their chances of a fair trial and therefore result in cases that should be brought before the courts being dropped.

It is for this reason that Cheshire County Council is scrupulous in its handling of allegations of child abuse in homes outside its control around the country, in the same way as we are dealing with any allegations about our own homes.

There has been a legal requirement imposed on us by the courts that clearly states nothing must be done to identify, or possibly identify, any of the children or their alleged abusers. The court's word is good enough for us. For the sake of the children, we hope it is for you, too.

Keith Bland

Social Services Committee

Cheshire County Council

Chester

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