Exaro News Archive

Police and CPS ‘leave survivors of child sex abuse in the lurch’

NAPAC: ‘justice’ system still fails victims despite Jimmy Savile’s exposure as paedophile

By Mark Conrad | 20 February 2014

Police and CPS ‘leave survivors of child sex abuse in the lurch’Dozens of people who allegedly suffered child sex abuse have come forward to say that in the past 16 months police and prosecutors failed them.

They made criminal allegations to police since Jimmy Savile, the late BBC star, was exposed as a paedophile in October 2012.

But around two dozen people accuse Britain’s ‘criminal-justice system’ of letting them down even though Savile’s exposure was seen as a watershed in how the authorities would treat allegations of child sex abuse.

They complained to the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) about how their cases were handled either by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Jonathan Bird, NAPAC’s operations manager, said that the charity had received hundreds of such complaints in the past 10 years. But he was disappointed that so many people had endured similar experiences with the criminal-justice system since the exposure of Savile.

In a piece for Exaro, Jonathan Bird writes that NAPAC has not seen “any evidence of increased provision of the necessary support” for victims.

His comments contrast with accusations in some quarters that the police, CPS and the media are part of a post-Savile witch-hunt, especially against high-profile people who face abuse allegations.

Exaro reported in December how the CPS had decided to drop key charges brought under the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Fernbridge’ against two men accused of child sex abuse. The charges were based on accusations by a key witness in the case.

The Met is investigating historical allegations of child sex exploitation by VIP paedophiles and others under ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which in part is focussing on abuse at Elm Guest House in the London borough of Richmond.

The witness told Exaro: “Going to the police to report my abuse was a big emotional step. I felt so disappointed when I was told the charges were going to be dropped. I still do not understand exactly why.”

He asked the CPS to review its decision, saying that police had put him through “a gruelling set of interviews”.

“My hopes were raised,” he said, “only to be dashed again, which has left me in a very damaged emotional state, requiring regular medication from my doctor, but absolutely no emotional support.”

He added: “It has been exhausting and emotionally stressful.”

Bird writes in his piece for Exaro: “NAPAC has received worrying evidence of a number of cases of this kind being dropped by the CPS, and survivors left in the lurch.”

He told Exaro: “I would say, as an estimate, it is certainly dozens and possibly hundreds over the 10 years that we have operated our support line, and at least two dozen since Savile. It could be more.”

NAPAC joined with other campaign groups and witnesses in Operation Fernbridge in urging the government to provide greater support for people who make allegations to the police that they were sexually abused as a child.

The CPS introduced new guidelines last October on prosecuting cases of child sex abuse. Keir Starmer, then director of public prosecutions, described it as the “most fundamental attitude shift across the criminal-justice system for a generation” for prosecuting such cases.

One CPS insider admitted that victims were being let down, saying: “Our system is set wrong for victims. Our system is set for defence.

“We have not sat back and thought about providing a proper service for victims.”

Many victims would not come forward because they have no confidence in the system, he continued. And some who do come forward say that they would never do it again.

Nonetheless, Bird stressed, NAPAC “always” encouraged people who contacted the charity with allegations of child sex abuse to pass them on to the police.

Earlier this month, Exaro revealed how the Met is investigating claims that boys were taken to a “holding” property before being driven to the notorious Elm Guest House to be sexually abused.

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

By Exaro News

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.