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

Paul Peachey
Tuesday 11 June 2013 16:22

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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in