Submitted by Suffolk County Council Social Care Services (CA 123)
Having consulted with colleagues and our ACPC Independent Chair consensus view is that when there have been investigations into alleged past cases of abuse in children's homes there is often a "mushrooming" effect which can appear as a witch-hunt.
The cause appears to be that when individual complaints are investigated the police often trawl very widely and draw many people into the investigation. It appears that when the police investigate individual complaints, children mention other people and the police then carry out an investigation into all the names that have been mentioned. This consumes a great deal of police time and the wider the trawl, the more likelihood there is for the gathering of unreliable evidence for prosecution. It is for this reason that there should be a much harder scrutiny of the evidence that exists before any case is put through the criminal justice system.
It is felt there need to be appropriate responses and investigation of all complaints of abuse regardless of the number of years since the alleged incident. This presents a particular difficulty in that there is a view that some of the compensation settlements may be acting as an incentive to make a complaint, which serves only to produce additional false allegations.
There have been two occasions over the past five years when Suffolk has been required to investigate incidents as a result of suspicions that ex-staff may have been involved in incidents of abuse in the past. Interviews of residents were carried out by police and members of the Social Care/Police joint investigation team.
The investigations were carried out in line with our policies and procedures, a copy of which I have enclosed for your information. On this occasion it was considered that the investigations were thorough and focused, but as no allegations were confirmed in relation to children in residential care no further action was necessary.