Government denies ‘large number’ of false abuse claims against care staff

The government has rejected a claim that large numbers of care
workers employed in children’s homes have been falsely accused of
abusing children.

Responding to a report published by the home affairs select
committee last November on an investigation into historic abuse in
homes, the government says it “does not share the belief in the
existence of large numbers of miscarriages of justice”.

However, it backs the recommendation made by MPs that police
procedures for trawling for witnesses should be tightened, but not

It also agrees that people wanting to bring cases against their
abusers should not be excluded from the right to use public
funding, but has reservations about the recommended introduction of
recording interviews with witnesses or complainants on video or
audio tape.

The committee’s report concluded that investigation methods used by
the police had led to a “new genre of miscarriages of justice” and
recommended the introduction of safeguards to minimise the risk of
wrongful convictions (news, page 6, 7 November 2002).

But the government says the committee reached its conclusions using
a number of assumptions, including that significant numbers of
complainants fabricated claims for dishonest motives.

Other assumptions the committee is accused of making are that large
numbers of complainants are either serving prisoners or
ex-offenders and that fabrications go undetected throughout lengthy

The Home Office response concludes that, despite the committee
members themselves recording reservations about some of their
assumptions, “they have nonetheless relied upon them significantly,
without the weight of significant and consistent substantiation to
back them up”.

The committee has given “disproportionate” weight to the views of
those who claim to have been victims of miscarriages of justice,
the government concludes.

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