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Man held in child sex abuse probe

Detectives investigating historic sex abuse at children's homes in North Wales have arrested a man on suspicion of child cruelty and indecent assault.

Officers attached to Operation Pallial - the investigation being run by the National Crime Agency (NCA) - arrested a 52-year-old man from Mold, North Wales, this morning.

The offences, against four boys and one girl, are alleged to have taken place between 1981 and 1988, when they were 13 or 14 years old, an NCA spokesman said.

He added: "The man was arrested in the St Helens area of Merseyside and has been taken to a police station in the vicinity, where he will be interviewed."

The NCA said no further information about the arrest or the specific nature of the offences being put to the man would be provided at this time.

Today's arrest is the 11th made to date in relation to Operation Pallial. One person has been charged.

John Allen, 72, is charged with 22 offences of indecent assault, nine offences of buggery and one of inciting gross indecency with a child.

The alleged offences span around 20 years, from 1968 to 1989, and involve 14 boys and one girl, aged between seven and 15 at the time. Allen is due to appear at Caernarfon Crown Court on October 28.

Operation Pallial is led by Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency, into recent allegations of historic abuse in the care system in North Wales.

Detectives from the operation, which was launched last November, are looking into 140 allegations relating to 18 care homes between 1963 and 1992.

A report published in April, which outlined phase one of the inquiry, revealed that the alleged victims were aged between seven and 19.

The report said 84 people - 75 male and nine female - had been named by complainants.

Of these, 16 were named by more than one alleged victim and 10 could now be dead.

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 to look again at the original police investigations into abuse at care homes in North Wales.

In 2000, the Waterhouse Inquiry was established to study claims linked to homes in the former council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974.

Following Waterhouse, eight people were prosecuted, seven of whom were convicted.

In July, a damning report which revealed "extensive" child abuse in North Wales care homes was finally published - 17 years after it claimed police officers and other professionals could have been identified as potential "perpetrators of assaults".

The Jillings Report, which focused on allegations of abuse in the council care system during the 1970s and 1980s, was compiled in 1996 but its publication was blocked by the former Clwyd County Council because insurers feared compensation claims.

A heavily-redacted version of the report has been published online in the wake of the fresh investigations.

The report is highly critical of North Wales Police's role in investigating allegations involving its own officers and also claims other agencies, including the local authority, constrained its investigation by providing ''limited information'' and, in some cases, refusing to meet the panel.

Meanwhile, detectives investigating alleged sexual abuse at a public school in Cheshire in the 1970s have stepped up their inquiry and today made a fresh appeal for information.

Police looking into allegations of historic sexual abuse at Terra Nova School near Holmes Chapel have set up a dedicated phone line that people who may have information can call.

In August, former French teacher Keith Cavendish-Coulson, 70, from Thatcham, Berkshire, was charged with 19 counts of indecent assault against boys under 14, which relate to four victims between 1973 and 1975.

He will appear before Chester Crown Court in January.

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: "The investigation is continuing and is focused upon Cavendish-Coulson's employment both as a public school teacher, and a private tutor at establishments across the country over the course of his working life."

Anyone who may need support or has information can contact the major investigation team, in confidence, directly in the incident room on 01606 362472.

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