19/02/2014 The Wales Report


A special programme on Operation Pallial, the investigation into historic allegations of child abuse in North Wales. David Williams goes behind the scenes of the investigation.

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Tonight a special programme as The Wales Report is given exclusive


access to Operation Pallial. The investigation into allegations of


historic child abuse in North Wales care homes. The man in charge tells


us it is far from over. I am confident there will be further


charges and further arrest, we will pursue the truth and ensure through


the evidence we collect, with put the CPS in the best position to make


proper judgment. Stay with us for The Wales Report.


Good evening and welcome to a special programme. The Wales Report


has been given exclusive behind the scenes access to a major


investigation into allegations of historic child abuse, in care homes


in North Wales. Operation Pallial is led by the


National Crime Agency, and based over the border at its northern


headquarters in Warrington. It was set up in November 2012, amid


concerns that previous investigations had not been robust


or thorough enough. There were concerns too that the voices of


those coming forward to report allegations of abuse in the care


system had not been heard. The investigation had already


resulted in 19 people being arrested, with more expected. 37


potential suspects have so far been identified. It is thought at least


12 suspects have died. David Williams who has covered the event


as they have unfolded over the past 25 years has been behind the scenes


with the police to discover the true extent of the allegations.


We will start with an investigation update. I am content we are making


steady progress in Operation Pallial, we are dealing with 255


victims. In terms of suspect inquiry, again, making steady


progress, 37 people have been raised to suspect status and from that


figure we have made 19 arrests. Ian Mulcahey the man in charge of


Operation Pallial, an investigation into historic child abuse in North


Wales lists the latest shocking statistics to emerge from an inquiry


into what is nothing less than a human tragedy.


Offences were committed between the time span of 1953 to 1995. The age


range was between 6 and 19. The majority of the victims were boysers


although there are a number of girls.


-- boys. 37 potential suspects have been


identified. Of the 255 people who have come


forward, since the investigation was launched, 14 months ago, a great


many are new complainant, outlining a catalogue of serious crime and


abuse, allegedly committed decades ago, in Local Authority and


privately run children's homes in North Wales.


28 care homes have been named by complainants.


In terms of named... The rolical is staggering. 28 homes are named. --


roll call These were places where young vulnerable children were


supposed to have been cared for. Instead they are now at the centre


of an inquiry into sexual and physical abuse, and inquiry which


has taken on a life of its own. And for the time being at least, one


in which there is no end in sight. We are dealing with alleged


offenders who are responsingable... 19 people have been arrested, one


man has been charged, and more arrests and charges against others


are expected. I am confident there will be further


charges and further arrests. We will pursue the truth, and we will ensure


through the evidence we collect, we put the CPS in the best position


possible, to make the proper judgments.


Over the years in reporting the growing number of complaints of


abuse in children's homes in North Wales, I have ended up outside this


building. The headquarters of the North Wales


Police in Colwyn Bay. It has to be said they weren't happy memories.


At the time, rightly or wrongly, there was a perception that the


police were hostile and disbelieving of claimants abuse claims.


All that, it is said, has changed and frankly it is an attitude that


had to. Attempts to try and establish the


whole truth have to date all failed. Time and again, over the last 30


year, I have heard the same depressing stories from some of


those alleging abuse. Nay simply were not listened to, or believed.


-- they. At least 13 young people have killed


themselves. The damning findings of the first real attempt at an


inquiry, the Jillings Report, was suppressed.


What should have been the definitive public inquiry, the Waterhouse


Tribunal, is itself now subject to another inquiry, the review. In the


'80s there were police inquiries, and eight people were eventually


convicted of child abuse. But young people continue to tell me that they


had no confidence in the north Wale police.


Fearful of coming forward when they were children, many waited until


they were adults before telling their stories.


But they still remember vividly what happened to them Keith Gregory says


that he was sexually, and physically abused in homes in England and in


Wales. He had a chilling account of his


first attempt as a teenager, at the then Bryn Estyn children's home in


Wrexham, to bring allegations of abuse to the attention of staff, and


police, during a case conference at the home.


Before I went into the meeting, I marched into the meeting, sort of


thing, there was the police officer standing there, with his arm round


one of the people I was accusing, smiling, laughing, joking. Then he


said to me I believe you have something to tell me.


I couldn't, you know. So did you find that the police weren't


prepared to listen do you, or were they hostile or what? Nobody would


listen. Nobody wanted to know. We were naughty boys, from when you


come out, when I was there, when I come out, for years it has been


hushed up. The current chief constable of north


Wale police has, from the outset, been at pains to demonstrate his


force's full cooperation with the current investigation.


-- North Wales. It was Mark Polin who wanted it conducted by an


outside force. Why? Because at the time, some


victims were indicating that they ad at that point didn't have the


confident in the force to carry out a reinvestigation to allegations


made some time ago. There was a perception that North Wales Police


during this period weren't listening, and sometimes worse, were


demonstrating hostility towards those who were coming forward, or


who wanted to come forward, what do you say to that? First of all, I


wasn't here. Let us be clear, there are few staff in this organisation


now, who were here at the time of the investigations, so the


organisation has moved on in terms of staff and what it does. It is not


therefore for me to comment on prior investigation, because I wasn't


party to them, this was about let us make sure we get it right this time,


if we have not got it right before, and encourage victims to forward to


put everything on the table, as far as we can possibly could, and to


ensure there was a thorough comprehensive investigation that was


independent and transparent. This is the nerve centre of


Operation Pallial, based here at the northern hub of the National Crime


Agency, in Warrington, in Cheshire. Geographically located in England,


it is at the same time at arms-length from but in close touch


with the north Wales police, whose force area is at the epicentre of


this inquiry into historic child abuse.


We have been given unparalleled access to see for ourselves some of


the inner workings of this operation.


For the first time since the inquiry was set up in November 2012, the


National Crime Agency or NCA, Britain's equivalent of America's


FB. It has allowed cameras in to get a snapshot of the complex and


delicate work that goes on behind the scene at one of the biggest


police inquiries of its kind. In that Pantheon of crimes that you


deal with, where does this one it is? It is difficult compare


different types of crime so with deal with organise crime, to drug,


gun, people trafficking and through child exploitation, it is a broad


range, what I would say is be try and work through the detail of that


to identify where the real opportunities are to cut crime and


keep the public safe, our priority is pursuing criminals. Is That is


what you are doing in this operation? Absolutely.


Day after day, week after week, month after month, the Pallial team


of 26 officers have been following up the stories and allegations from


men and women, but mainly men, who have contacted them to outline the


abuse they say they suffered while in care in North Wales.


Elaine Coult iris the deputy officer in -- Elaine Coulter is the deputy


officer in charge of the Pallial operation. We have had an overview


of what it is about but this is where it takes place isn't it. Talk


us through the kind of processes that go on here. This is the


incident room for Operation Pallial. People will contact us by a number


of source, whether by telephone, e-mail or other agency, we have an


0800 number. A lot of people have not previously reported their


allegations to the police. Some had and sometimes it has been


investigated so we have to research all that first, this is not the


first investigation into the care home abuse, so we have to research


the archive material, which is about 260 boxes, held in North Wales, so


there is a lot of research to do, so you might get someone who thinks I


have give my account to the police, why hasn't that person been arrests?


We have to make sure the research round, is that person still alive,


how can we trace them? Because some have died? Yes.


The majority of those who have come forward, in response to the latest


appeal for information are telling their stories, often deeply


disturbing story, of abuse, for the first time. Not even members of


their own family have heard what officers of Operation Pallial are


now being told. It takes a lot for a person to come


forward and divulge, the worst time of their life when they should have


been a place in care. Do they tell you why they have taken so long to


come forward? They do, although there have been previous


allegations, they have been asked in the '90s and they might have said


no, they might have been in that good place in their life. They


haven't wanted to talk about it. As they lives have gone on they have


wanted to talk about it. People are getting older and they need to tell


their story, I have had people come to me and I ask me how to get in


touch with Pallial. I spoke to the Children's Commissioner and they put


them forward. There is one old chap I talked to, he just wants to tell


his story before he die, he doesn't want anything, he is well-off, all


right. He needs to say what happened to


To you get any feel, any idea, of how many of those 250 have in any


way been wasting your time, or have they not? I don't think anybody has.


That is a lot of people. Disturbing though they are, the


allegations do not mean the accused are automatically guilty. Neither do


the numbers necessarily mean there is an increased chance of


conviction. The job of the officers is to collect the evidence. The


police and law enforcement let evidence, presented to persecute


us, the CPS, they make an objective judgement based on clear guidelines


about who should go into a court. The courts decide who is guilty or


not guilty. This is the cord and 18 team,


otherwise known as the Gold group, which meets regularly at the


Warrington offices to discuss the progress of the enquiry. Every


agency either directly or indirectly linked is represented. The NCA is


represented by their boss, director-general Keith Bristow.


There is also a representative of the North Wales police. Social


services in North Wales have a joint coordinator. The Crown Prosecution


Service, CPS, is represented by the chief prosecutor for Wales. Also is


the Children's Commissioner for Wales.


Because of the sensitive nature of what they are discussing we have


been asked to leave the room but I have had a glimpse of the kind of


joined up thinking that goes on. And the attempt to provide necessary


support for those who have been willing to come forward and provide


harrowing accounts of the abuse they suffered. You can't help but think


why wasn't all this done years ago? Perhaps there was a lack of


understanding of the impact, and the level of abuse that had occurred. We


are much better these days at recognising what we need to do to


ensure that we support people where they have suffered abuse, and the


impact on their lives, that has been one of the things that has been most


hard-hitting for us, is seeing the tragic impact on some peoples lives


of this, and some people will never recover and we will have two be


there to ensure they have that support for as long as they need it.


There is little doubt the level of support for those coming forward has


improved dramatically, compared with what wasn't done 20 or 30 years ago.


We have discovered a new problem, the counselling sessions offered by


Operation Pallial are running into difficulties because those coming


forward are being instructed, for legal reasons, not to verbally


identify their alleged abusers to their councillors. As a result, some


witnesses feel the counselling sessions are pointless, and have


decided to withdraw from those sessions. This threatens to leave


them, as witnesses to the enquiry, for trouble again.


It is good that you managed to chat to somebody who is not part of your


family, but we are not allowed to speak about what has happened and we


are not allowed to mentioned names of the people who abused us, for


legal reasons. Does that inhibit you? It does, it stops you. To go


forward you have got to go backwards, get your story out, write


three to present day. Every time you mention something they say sorry, we


cannot listen to that part. I think that is holding us back a lot.


Once again, survivors of abuse have difficulty in unburdening themselves


of their past. Hopefully this is a temporary blip, and one that can be


rectified. In terms of the investigation, the emphasis now is


on the credibility of the allegations, rather than the


perceived weakness of the witnesses. And in general terms the man in


charge of Britain's crime-fighters is optimistic we are witnessing a


change in society's attitude to child abuse.


We should recognise society generally in England, Wales, and


wider has changed and attitudes towards sexual violence and abuse of


conduct has changed and law enforcement, the police, the justice


system has changed along the same lines. We take this incredibly


seriously, we are sensitive to some of the pressures on victims and


complainants and take a more robust approach than a generation ago.


There has been a cultural shift, argue animating that they didn't do


everything they should have done all those years ago? -- are you


admitting. 250 victims coming forward in direct response to your


appeal. There are things that with the benefit of hindsight we would


all have sought to have done differently. That is about learning.


That is deeply regrettable, there are occasions when we cannot be


proud of the way in which some allegations have been dealt with


historically, but we have learned those lessons, things have


improved, the numbers of victims coming forward expressing confidence


in the process is a real testament to the journey we have been on.


At the outset of the enquiry so Ronald Waterhouse was clear, his


tribunal would not act as a court putting individuals on trial, but


was intended to establish the extent of the abuse and why it wasn't


detected earlier. Of course, historic abuse of


children in North Wales has been the subject of an investigation before.


At a cost of ?13 million of public money, the Waterhouse Enquiry spent


three years gathering evidence and coming up with various


recommendations aimed at preventing a recurrence of the abuses of the


past. Statement, Mr Secretary Murphy. For


those who lives have been chattered, the family of those who


have died, we all say sorry. -- been shattered. We are determined this


report will lead to a society where young people can be cared for in


safety. In some quarters there is a real


concern the remit was not wide enough and the enquiry did not go


deeply enough into the allegations of abuse. And the way that some of


the abused learnt of Waterhouse's interest in them was shocking. They


just turned up on my door and expected, which was really bad --


unexpected. I haven't told my partner I was with at the time, and


the kids were in my house. You had no warning. No, they just came to


the door and said we believe you were abused in care. It was bad. But


you were able to tell your story to those people concerned? With the


Waterhouse Enquiry, all they wanted to know was which staff were abusing


you or whatever, we were being stopped on packs. -- pass. I wanted


to tell them we were not just being abused on site, people were being


taken off site. We were not allowed to mention that. Not to Waterhouse.


It was outside their re-met? Yes. We were told you cannot mention


anything that happened outside. Despite Keith Gregory's misgivings


it did find there was evidence of an paedophile ring operating in Wrexham


and Chester. One of the positive results to emerge was the creation


of the post of Children's Commissioner for Wales. The current


Commissioner sits on the Gold group and was one of those who called for


a new enquiry. In fact, he got to, Operation Pallial, and another


enquiry into the Waterhouse Enquiry. -- he got two. The second


enquiry was called to review and is headed by a High Court judge.


When I spoke out, I spoke out when I didn't know there would be Operation


Pallial, I didn't know there would be a review into the Waterhouse


Enquiry, I just felt very strongly something had to happen, not least


because the stories that were beginning to come forward for


victims who had held this for 30 years or more, were incredibly


powerful. I am really pleased with what has happened since, with the


way in which agencies have taken this job so seriously, and my job is


to make sure those people have the strength to come forward, get their


voices heard, and have everything they want to say listened to.


The general consensus is those coming forward are being listened


to, but those investigating the latest claims of historic abuse are


also conscious of the growing concern about the wisdom of pursuing


allegations of abuse which span several decades.


With the passage of time that presents particular challenges.


Human beings struggle with passage of time to remember exactly what


happened, forensic opportunities may have passed but we are pursuing


evidence. We follow the evidence, presented to prosecutors and


prosecutors make decisions about who should go into the criminal justice


system. It has to be remembered Operation


Pallial is focused on historic abuse, but the North Wales police


are still responsible for investigating any new or current


claims, and they know they have to get it right.


Never again does North Wales police want to be accused of failing in


their response to allegations of child abuse. At some point in the


future as Operation Pallial's work draws to an end in North Wales force


will once again have to take over all responsibility for investigating


any allegations of abuse, whether new or historical. Those who have


been child abuse perpetrators need to look over their shoulder for the


rest of their lives. We have invested a lot of time and effort in


training our staff are fashionably making sure we have the capability


to go where we haven't gone before and making sure we are providing the


best possible service to victims. For those who were abused the


passage of time has not made the crime any more or less serious. It


was, and will always be, the same. A time of the world at and betrayal at


the hands of adults who were charged with the most fundamental of


responsibilities, keeping children in their care safe. Children in our


looked after system are much safer than they were in the 70s and 80s,


there is no doubt in my mind that is true. We have made huge amount of


progress. I am still the Children's Commissioner for Wales who in 2014


is saying to the Welsh government we need to make sure that children and


young people get their voices heard. I don't say that because it


is a nice thing to say, I say that because when children are not


listened to all believed, if there are bad things happening to them and


people don't respond, that is when you have real problems.


There is no definitive timescale on completing Operation Pallial. It


will take as long as it takes to complete an investigation which


should have been done a long time ago. It wasn't and the scale of the


current operation and the response to it is evidence of a failure, and


the consequences for hundreds of people is immeasurable. And whatever


happens now, those people will never be able to reclaim their childhood.


I don't want to be sitting here in ten years like we have been doing


for the last ten, 20 years. This time it has got to be right and I


hope everybody does their proper job which I think they are doing, to be


honest. There are more arrests, enquiries. I hope we get it sorted


and we can all move on with our lives.


Keith Gregory ending that special report by David Williams. The cost


of Operation Pallial has risen to three quarters of ?1 million, paid


for by the Home Office. It is expected to rise again as the


investigation continues and further arrests are made, with court cases


to follow. Please say for those wishing to contact them about


historic abuse the door remains very much open -- police. That is it for


this week. You Edwards will be back next week. You can get in touch with


us about the issues discussed tonight or anything else will stop


-- Hugh Edwards. Thank you for watching. Good night.


A special programme on Operation Pallial, the investigation into historic allegations of child abuse in North Wales. David Williams goes behind the scenes to reveal the true extent of the investigation.

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