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Abandoned sex abuse cases reviewed

Four sex abuse cases that were dropped by police or prosecutors are being reviewed by a new panel set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

As part of a wider overhaul of the approach to investigating child sex offences, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police chiefs have formed a panel of experts to look at cases where they have previously advised against taking further action.

It has been revealed that four individuals from across the country have come forward to complain about their cases, covering a total of three suspects. Some of the referrals involve religious institutions.

Police and prosecutors also unveiled new child sexual exploitation and abuse guidelines, which stress victims must be allowed to seek counselling before trial, and make clear that children can be told when they are not alone in making claims against their alleged attacker.

Chief constable Dave Whatton, national policing lead on violence and public protection, said the cases referred to the panel so far were not related to celebrities, none fall under the grooming or gangs category but some are related to "religious institutions".

The panel will consist of a chief crown prosecutor, an Association of Chief Police Officers rank police officer, a specialist prosecutor and experienced child abuse police investigator and an independent representative from either the NSPCC or the Office of the Children's Commissioner.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer said he expects the number of cases referred to the panel to increase, adding: "The purpose is to look at any case where an individual says I came forward in the past and either the police or the prosecution took the decision not to take my case forward and ask the panel to look at it.

"We don't want the panel to become overly bureaucratic and we don't want it to sit if it's unnecessary. In many places round the country chief constables are saying we will look at cases again in any event. If you hearing that, you don't need to go to the panel and it's really much more straightforward for the victim."

Mr Starmer previously described the findings of the Savile inquiry, in which more than 200 criminal offences were recorded against the disgraced presenter's name, as a "watershed moment".

The new guidelines were drawn up to address major problems with the way in which prosecutors and police approached allegations made against Savile and other predatory child abusers.

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