Submitted by Heather Stephens, Director of Social Services, Manchester City Council (CA 49)
1. Do Police methods of "trawling" for evidence involve a disproportionate use of resource and produce unreliable evidence for prosecution?
I am not aware that there is a particular problem in relation to disproportionate use of resources or indeed unreliable evidence. This is an issue which would be better placed for the Police to consider.
2. Is the Crown Prosecution Service drawing a sensible line about which cases should be prosecuted?
It is my view that the Crown Prosecution Service do draw a sensible line about which cases should be prosecuted, but again the Police may be better placed to have a view on this.
3. Is there a risk that the advertisement of prospective awards of compensation in child abuse cases encourages people to come forward with fabricated allegations?
I would accept that there is indeed a risk that by advertising prospective awards of compensation, it could indeed encourage people to come forward with fabricated allegations. However, this should not deter us from continuing to investigate in order to determine which cases are able to be proven.
4. Is there a weakness in the current law on "similar fact" evidence?
I am not aware of any weakness in the current law on "similar fact" evidence, but I would admit that this is not my particular area of expertise.
5. Should there be a limitin terms of number of years since the alleged offence took placeon prosecution of cases of child abuse?
I would not accept that there should be a limit in terms of years since the alleged offence took place on prosecution of cases of child abuse. Often the abuse only comes to light at a later stage and they still require to be fully investigated and dealt with through the normal proceedings.
In addition you invited comment on the role of the Social Services Departments in co-operation with the Police in such cases. It has been my experience that this has worked very well and that the Police and the Local Authority have worked jointly with other neighbouring local authorities in pursuance of Operation Cleopatra, which has successfully prosecuted and brought to justice perpetrators of abuse in residential homes in the Greater Manchester area.