Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary note submitted by Mr David Calvert-Smith, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, following the evidence session on 26 February 2002

  In dealing with your query on past cases of abuse in children's homes, I have obtained the following information from Terry Grange, Chief Constable Dyfed-Powys, who is also APCO lead for Child Protection and Sex Offenders. It was drawn from a survey conducted in May/June 2001 as a result of a question raised by Claire Curtis-Thomas MP. The collation of the information was based on the questions that Mrs Curtis-Thomas asked and does not appear to differentiate between charge files and advice files. In summary, the survey covering the period 1997-2000, sought to identify how many:


    —  investigations were carried out;

    —  people were arrested;

    —  cases were referred to the CPS;

    —  prosecutions ensued, and the results in terms of acquittals, convictions, and discontinuance; and

    —  victims during the course of the investigation had alleged that they had been subject of abuse.

  Some forces provided statistics of only those `major' institutional abuse investigations conducted in their force areas during the stipulated time period. Others provided statistics within wider parameters, which includes cases where perhaps there was only one offender/victim. 32 of the 43 forces responded.

  Some dealt with the question of how many cases referred to CPS in terms of advice files only, whereas the majority seem to have included advice and charge files, although without going back to the 32 police areas there is no way of being certain of this.

  We do have some discrete information about child abuse inquiries, independent of this survey, but emanating from the police. For example, data about a South Wales investigation called Operation Goldfinch shows that of 64 cases, 52 were advice file and 12 charge files. The data further shows that 34 of the advice files were rejected and 18 accepted for prosecution. One of the charge files was not proceeded with.

  Of the 29 prosecutions pursued, the records show that six pleaded guilty, eight were convicted after trial, three aquitted after trial, two prosecutions were ordered to lie on file, two were discharged/stayed, two defendants died before trial and six are awaiting trial. Thus about 81 per cent of all files were advice files, and we rejected about 65 per cent of the advice files. This tends to confirm that these inquiries do generate a disproportionate number of advice files, which are not pursued to prosecution.

  We have also located some information from Merseyside, which shows that of 199 suspects which were referred for advice, positive advice to prosecute was provided in respect of 64. One suspect was cautioned and allegations in respect of 19 suspects have been referred back to the police for further enquiries to be made. CPS advised no further action in respect of 100 and 115 suspects—95 because there was insufficient evidence and 20 because proceedings were not in the public interest.

  Again, this tends to show that CPS advice was not to prosecute in 115 of 180 cases—64 per cent. We do not collate information about these cases nationally and have only limited information relating to specific investigations. These show a high rate of advice files in relation to charge files and the rejection rate is high at around 65 per cent. This would seem to accord with the information collated by ACPO although their discontinuence rate is higher. I hope this helpful.


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