Panorama: Crime Waves



Sunday 6 February, 10.15pm

Star Rating: 5/5

Crime Waves provided one of the most compelling arguments for
tackling child abuse with far more vigour, and why survivors of
abuse need a great deal of support, writes Peter Saunders.

It highlighted the plight of a group of men whose criminal
backgrounds led them all to prison and a life of hopelessness.
Shockingly, they had all been sexually abused by one man: Bill
Goad, who abused children (and we’ll never know how many) over four
decades in the Plymouth area.

The judge, who dealt with these men, rightly said that some of
them may well have committed crimes even if they had not been
abused. But a clear pattern emerged: abuse a child and the
consequences for society can be dire.

The consequences for the victims seemed clear enough. Unable to
trust, they grow up with a distorted view of the world and many
turn to self-harm. One victim, who was given no follow-up support,
took his own life after making his statement to the police.

The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (Napac),
hears from many people in prison. The letters don’t ask for
sympathy but for understanding of what led to their life of crime.
Most of us who were abused in childhood do not go on to commit
crimes, but when you hear about the things done to the children
(now grown up) in this programme it’s unsurprising that they have,
as the judge said, “absolutely nothing to look forward to in life”.
Goad is serving life for his crimes but he may be out one day. For
his victims, however, “life” really does mean life.

Peter Saunders is founder and development director of

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