19/02/2014 The Wales Report


19/02/2014

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

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access to Operation Pallial. The investigation into allegations of

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

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

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

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

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proper judgment. Stay with us for The Wales Report.

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

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has been given exclusive behind the scenes access to a major

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investigation into allegations of historic child abuse, in care homes

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in North Wales. Operation Pallial is led by the

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

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

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concerns that previous investigations had not been robust

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

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those coming forward to report allegations of abuse in the care

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system had not been heard. The investigation had already

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

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

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

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

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

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

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steady progress in Operation Pallial, we are dealing with 255

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

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

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

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Operation Pallial, an investigation into historic child abuse in North

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Wales lists the latest shocking statistics to emerge from an inquiry

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into what is nothing less than a human tragedy.

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

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

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although there are a number of girls.

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-- boys. 37 potential suspects have been

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identified. Of the 255 people who have come

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

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

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abuse, allegedly committed decades ago, in Local Authority and

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privately run children's homes in North Wales.

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28 care homes have been named by complainants.

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

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roll call These were places where young vulnerable children were

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

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

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

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

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

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

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are expected. I am confident there will be further

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

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

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possible, to make the proper judgments.

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Over the years in reporting the growing number of complaints of

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

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building. The headquarters of the North Wales

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

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

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police were hostile and disbelieving of claimants abuse claims.

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

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had to. Attempts to try and establish the

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

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

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

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-- they. At least 13 young people have killed

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

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inquiry, the Jillings Report, was suppressed.

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What should have been the definitive public inquiry, the Waterhouse

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

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

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

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had no confidence in the north Wale police.

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

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they were adults before telling their stories.

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

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

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Wales. He had a chilling account of his

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

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

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police, during a case conference at the home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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hushed up. The current chief constable of north

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

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force's full cooperation with the current investigation.

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

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outside force. Why? Because at the time, some

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

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confident in the force to carry out a reinvestigation to allegations

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

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

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demonstrating hostility towards those who were coming forward, or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ensure there was a thorough comprehensive investigation that was

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independent and transparent. This is the nerve centre of

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

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

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

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

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this inquiry into historic child abuse.

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

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the inner workings of this operation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to identify where the real opportunities are to cut crime and

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

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what you are doing in this operation? Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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appeal for information are telling their stories, often deeply

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

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their own family have heard what officers of Operation Pallial are

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

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

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

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come forward? They do, although there have been previous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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right. He needs to say what happened to

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

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

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

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

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the numbers necessarily mean there is an increased chance of

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

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police and law enforcement let evidence, presented to persecute

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

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

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not guilty. This is the cord and 18 team,

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

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Warrington offices to discuss the progress of the enquiry. Every

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

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represented by their boss, director-general Keith Bristow.

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

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

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

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the Children's Commissioner for Wales.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Operation Pallial are running into difficulties because those coming

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

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

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witnesses feel the counselling sessions are pointless, and have

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decided to withdraw from those sessions. This threatens to leave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Once again, survivors of abuse have difficulty in unburdening themselves

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

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

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on the credibility of the allegations, rather than the

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

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

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change in society's attitude to child abuse.

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We should recognise society generally in England, Wales, and

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wider has changed and attitudes towards sexual violence and abuse of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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admitting. 250 victims coming forward in direct response to your

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

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

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

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

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historically, but we have learned those lessons, things have

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improved, the numbers of victims coming forward expressing confidence

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

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

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

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

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detected earlier. Of course, historic abuse of

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

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

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three years gathering evidence and coming up with various

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recommendations aimed at preventing a recurrence of the abuses of the

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past. Statement, Mr Secretary Murphy. For

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

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

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

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safety. In some quarters there is a real

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

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

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

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

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

:20:46.:20:50.

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

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

:20:57.:21:03.

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

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

:21:10.:21:18.

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

:21:19.:21:30.

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

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

:21:35.:21:44.

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

:21:45.:21:51.

anything that happened outside. Despite Keith Gregory's misgivings

:21:52.:21:55.

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

:21:56.:22:03.

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

:22:04.:22:06.

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

:22:07.:22:11.

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

:22:12.:22:17.

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

:22:18.:22:24.

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

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

:22:33.:22:39.

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

:22:40.:22:44.

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

:22:45.:22:49.

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

:22:50.:22:53.

because the stories that were beginning to come forward for

:22:54.:22:57.

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

:22:58.:23:04.

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

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

:23:09.:23:12.

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

:23:13.:23:17.

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

:23:18.:23:23.

The general consensus is those coming forward are being listened

:23:24.:23:28.

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

:23:29.:23:32.

also conscious of the growing concern about the wisdom of pursuing

:23:33.:23:37.

allegations of abuse which span several decades.

:23:38.:23:43.

With the passage of time that presents particular challenges.

:23:44.:23:46.

Human beings struggle with passage of time to remember exactly what

:23:47.:23:51.

happened, forensic opportunities may have passed but we are pursuing

:23:52.:23:59.

evidence. We follow the evidence, presented to prosecutors and

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prosecutors make decisions about who should go into the criminal justice

:24:02.:24:06.

system. It has to be remembered Operation

:24:07.:24:10.

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

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are still responsible for investigating any new or current

:24:16.:24:18.

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

:24:19.:24:24.

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

:24:25.:24:27.

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

:24:28.:24:33.

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

:24:34.:24:40.

will once again have to take over all responsibility for investigating

:24:41.:24:44.

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

:24:45.:24:53.

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

:24:54.:24:56.

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

:24:57.:25:01.

training our staff are fashionably making sure we have the capability

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

:25:06.:25:13.

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

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

:25:18.:25:23.

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

:25:24.:25:29.

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

:25:30.:25:33.

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

:25:34.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:45.

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

:25:46.:25:50.

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

:25:51.:25:54.

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

:25:55.:25:57.

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

:25:58.:26:02.

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

:26:03.:26:06.

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

:26:07.:26:10.

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

:26:11.:26:18.

There is no definitive timescale on completing Operation Pallial. It

:26:19.:26:22.

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

:26:23.:26:26.

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

:26:27.:26:30.

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

:26:31.:26:35.

the consequences for hundreds of people is immeasurable. And whatever

:26:36.:26:41.

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

:26:42.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:52.

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

:26:53.:26:57.

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

:26:58.:27:02.

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

:27:03.:27:09.

and we can all move on with our lives.

:27:10.:27:13.

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

:27:14.:27:19.

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

:27:20.:27:23.

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

:27:24.:27:28.

investigation continues and further arrests are made, with court cases

:27:29.:27:32.

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

:27:33.:27:35.

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

:27:36.:27:42.

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

:27:43.:27:46.

us about the issues discussed tonight or anything else will stop

:27:47.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:27:59.

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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