Child abuse trials end as police are accused of ‘wild prosecutions’

A three-year investigation into allegations of
historic sexual and physical abuse at children’s homes in the North
East ended last week with the final trial, that of Esme Allenby,
who was cleared.

Northumbria Police’s Operation
Rose led to the charging of 32 suspects with 142 offences. A total
of 260 residents and former residents of 61 children’s homes made
over 500 allegations of rape, buggery, indecent assault, assault
and physical restraint involving 197 care workers.

people were found guilty of a variety of charges with five jailed
for a total of 25 years and one sentenced to 12 months’
imprisonment suspended for two years. Four suspects died before the

inquiry began in the summer of 1997 after a woman in her twenties
disclosed to a social worker that she and a friend had been
sexually and physically abused while living in a children’s

part of their investigations the police inquiry team wrote to 10
per cent of former residents informing them that an inquiry had
begun into a home in which they had once lived and asking if they
had any information which might help.

courts upheld the process – known as trawling – accepting the
letters sought information and did not make suggestions to

Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers (Fact) has claimed that the
operation “with its devastatingly damaging, wild prosecutions of
cases having no merit” had succeeded in ruining the lives of large
numbers of innocent people.

In an
open letter to the chief constable of Northumbria Police, Fact
said: “The real cost in terms of the blighted careers of
experienced, caring and well qualified staff who have been rendered
unemployable despite being found not guilty can only be

Northumbria Police assistant chief constable John Scott defended
the operation. “It was a thorough and professional investigation
which sought to establish the truth behind what happened to
children who were entrusted to the care of others.”

the agencies involved in the inquiry have reviewed the processes
undertaken in the investigation. Best practice recommendations
include considering tape recording all victim interviews, not just
those with children, and for social services departments to
consider the retention of staff discipline records.


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