Update: Wanless review published

Review into handling of allegations of child sex abuse during the 1970s-1990s published

An additional review of material looking into how the Home Office, police and prosecutors dealt with claims of organised child abuse between the 1970s-1990s was published yesterday (Tuesday 22 July).

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said:
"The issues and crimes against children were given seriously less consideration than would be expected today, the risk to children was not considered at all.

"We were concerned and disappointed that the cabinet office was aware of this separate store of papers and yet informed us that they weren't."

An NSPCC Spokesperson said:
"The report shows that senior government figures were putting fear of political embarrassment above the risks to children. As the original review revealed, there is a clear sense of the misplaced priorities of those operating at highest levels of government, where people simply weren't thinking about crimes against children and the consequences of those crimes in the way that we would expect them too.

"In addition, there is concern that government filing of these papers leaves much to be desired and re-iterates the need for an inquiry that will explore this in depth."

Read the Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC: supplementary report

Our past review 

The independent review was chaired by our CEO, Peter Wanless. Peter said:
"Many victims of sexual abuse feel very strongly that they have been badly let down in the past and are quite naturally looking for justice, which is long overdue. Their anger and frustration has been fuelled by the feeling that they are not being told the truth. And to be frank the Home Office has not helped matters by allowing a sense of mystery to develop around the nature and number of missing files.

"Richard Whittam and I have done our utmost to ensure that the task we were set, the reasons for going about our work in the way we did, and the conclusions we reached, are set out as clearly as possible.

"Though restricted to what the Home Office itself knew about organised child abuse we asked questions about that matter well beyond the Department itself.  I hope our insistence on openness will help focus future efforts to expose anyone who was committing appalling crimes against children during the period in question, whether a prominent public figure or not.

"Whatever is - or was ever - captured in public records, if people have relevant information about crimes committed against children I would urge them to come forward. There are active police investigations underway now.

"While it has been important to undertake this review into past events we must not lose sight of the fact that children continue to be abused -as the horrific recent child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere tragically show.

"So let's not wait upon finding a piece of paper that might or might not contain compelling evidence the police are not already aware of, before taking the steps necessary now to protect children from abuse today."

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