Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Abuse probe evidence 'significant'

A new inquiry into a historic paedophile ring in North Wales care homes has uncovered 'significant' fresh evidence of abuse

A new inquiry into a historic paedophile ring in North Wales care homes has uncovered "significant" fresh evidence of "systematic and serious sexual and physical abuse".

Detectives from Operation Pallial, which launched last November, have received 140 allegations relating to 18 care homes between 1963 and 1992, including fresh claims by 76 new complainants. The alleged victims were aged between seven and 19.

The new report said a total of 84 people - 75 male and nine female - were named by complainants. Of these, 16 were named by more than one alleged victim and 10 may now be dead. The large number of alleged victims and care homes, and the duration of the period involved, is much wider than previously thought.

Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, the senior investigating officer, said: "These are serious allegations that will be thoroughly investigated. Many have provided graphic accounts of abuse, in some cases of very serious criminality."

He added: "We are prioritising our work focusing on those individuals who pose the greatest risk to the public. I want to reassure the community we are taking their allegations seriously."

The publication of the report on phase one of the inquiry comes less than a week after a man was arrested in Ipswich, Suffolk, accused of "a number of serious sexual offences against a number of individuals", the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said.

He was arrested last Tuesday and taken to a police station in North Wales where he was interviewed over recent allegations of historic abuse and then bailed to the end of July, pending further enquiries. Soca refused to give his age. He is the first person to be detained so far as part of the inquiry.

North Wales Chief Constable Mark Polin, who asked the National Crime Agency (NCA) to run Operation Pallial, warned offenders: "If you believe that the passage of time will reduce the resolve of Operation Pallial or any police force to identify people still alive who have caused harm to others and bring them to justice, you are are sorely mistaken.

"People who commit serious and sexual offences should live with the knowledge that we will always examine new information and evidence and seek to bring them to justice for their crimes. Offenders should quite rightly have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives."

The NCA was selected at the request of North Wales Police to ensure the inquiry's independence. It was set up to re-examine claims of sex crimes and look again at the original police investigations into abuse at care homes in North Wales.

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