No evidence of historic child abuse cover up, finds Wanless report

NSPCC chief says he found 'nothing specific' that would suggest the Home Office had concealed child abuse in the 1980s

houses-of-parliament
Houses of Parliament (Credit: Gary Brigden)

There is no evidence that senior public figures covered up allegations of child abuse in the 1980s and 90s, according to a report published today.

The report, carried out by NSPCC chief Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC at ministers’ request, looked at two previous reviews into the allegations and examined whether files alleging abuse between 1979-99 had been removed, destroyed or tampered with.

Peter Wanless said the investigation found no evidence of this, although he admitted that it could not guarantee that reports had been not been removed. He said there was “nothing specific” to suggest the Home Office had concealed widespread child abuse.

“We found nothing to support a concern that files had been deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse,” the Wanless report stated. But Wanless also told MPs that the files were “a mess”.

Home secretary Theresa May promised further scrutiny, today telling the House of Commons that she had written to Wanless and Whittam to “seek further reassurance that the police and prosecutors acted appropriately upon receiving information”. She said she had also asked for similar reassurance about any information that was passed to the security service.

The report followed an internal Home Office inquiry found 114 files potentially relating to allegations of child abuse were missing.

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “Whether abuse took place yesterday or 30 years ago, those who have suffered must be listened to and know that when they come forward, action will be taken.”

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3 Responses to No evidence of historic child abuse cover up, finds Wanless report

  1. Philip Measures November 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    So much for the NSPCC! If its Chief Exec. cannot understand that 114 missing files = sculduggery / subterfuge / deliberate removal of evidence / extreme carelessness (choose whichever you will) then I, for one, query his credentials.

    Innocent lives have been destroyed – in some cases literally and victims of the State’s incompetence / lack of understanding / turning a ‘blind’ eye / complicity / sheer brazen ignoring of reports is staggering and utterly unacceptable.

    ‘Google’ Feversham School and see what Ian Merry went through – he raised concerns back in the 80’s but was not believed but he persisted in seeking to obtain justice and convictions did occur many years later – the latter just a couple of months ago. There are others who tried to do the right thing but there are many many more who didn’t and whose consciences ought to be severely troubled and, as the Home Secretary has said today in Parliament, I urge them to now come forward and say what they knew.

    Frank beck was carrying out his so-called ‘Regression Therapy’ in Leicestershire. Senior Managers knew but he left with a positive Reference!

    Too many people have been let go with financial pay-outs but made (or, rather they agree to) subject to ‘gagging’ clauses and given positive References as a result – such people were never TRUE ‘whistle-blowers’ because a real one would never agree to be bought off.

    What is social work? It is about seeking to help and protect the most vulnerable, it is not the governmental / bureaucratic business that it has become. Too many senior managers have blindly followed government directions such as reducing children on Child Protection Registers / CP Plans; those ‘looked after’ and hitting Key performance Indicators (KPI’s) without assessing the quality of Outcomes – in past years, and it still continues, many children and young people were either not adequately protected or returned to their abusers – yet many of those managers were highly rewarded for saving money regardless of the tragedies they were complicit in.

    The awaited over-arching Inquiry needs to address what has been a national scandal and Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam ought to have been far more forthright and firm in criticising past failures by the Home Office and other Institutions. There are those who know exactly the names of individuals involved but who do not have the courage – the moral compass – to speak out and do the right and decent thing.

  2. Lynne Brosnan November 13, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Agree 100% Phillip measures. This Wanless report comes as no surprise. It is time those with a conscience came forward.

  3. Rose Thompson November 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I strongly agree with Philip Measures’ comment in relation to Wanless report, this comes no suprise to me, as the amount of individuals involved in the abuse of children and young people in care in the 1980s and early 1990s to current day. Hardly no one taken responsibility for what happened to historic child sexual abuse because most of them is affluent individuals with high status in their communities. What about the abuses that put their shame and selfless pain before the nation to talked about what happened to them whilst in the care of the Local Authorities?