Submitted by Peter Gilroy, Strategic Director, Kent County Council Social Services (CA 130)
1. There is a risk that Police methods of "trawling" for evidence might produce unreliable evidence for prosecution if they relied upon the evidence of only one or two individuals. However, if a number of people had very similar experiences and this evidence was collected in a appropriately "forensic" manner then it should be considered reliable.
The question of this method involving disproportionate use of resources is a difficult one because, clearly, it is time-consuming. However, this needs to be weighed against the long-term damage caused by abuse against vulnerable children and the fact that the alleged perpetrators may still be working with children.
2. There is always risk that the prospect of financial gain may encourage people to fabricate allegations. However, the test will be the same as under 1 above.
3. The introduction of a time limit for reporting abuse could be problematic. Many people do not feel able to confront or address the abuse they have suffered for a long time and it may only be when something occurs in their own lives that they are compelled to act, eg, a child of theirs reaching a similar age. To rule out the possibility of taking action when it feels right for them to do so seems unfair.
4. Social Services Departments have an important role to play in such investigations because the Police would need access to their files and expertise in the area of sexual abuse of children. In addition, adult mental health services could contribute to the process.