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Historical Abuse Investigations

Volume 412: debated on Friday 11 April 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The Government today publishes "Historical Abuse Investigations: Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2001–02".The Government are grateful to the Home Affairs Committee for their hard work in tackling the difficult subject of historical child abuse, which resulted in the publication of the Committee's report, "The Investigation of Past Cases of Abuse in Children's Homes" in October 2002.We know that this subject arouses strong feelings, and that many of the central issues are widely disputed. We feel that the Committee has done well to consider all points of view.The passage of time, the serious nature of the allegations and the long-term damage done to victims means that proper safeguards must be observed in the chain of evidence gathering. We must be sure that investigations minimise the risk to the innocent, particularly given the nature of evidence that most convictions rely on.There is clearly no dispute that police must investigate such crimes to the fullest, despite the inevitable difficulty of investigating allegations that refer to events that may have occurred many years ago.New guidance has been issued by the Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers in the past 12 months on the investigation of historic abuse cases in order to provide a sound and transparent framework for conducting investigations. This includes a range of safeguards to ensure that evidence gathering is scrutinised for potentially false or malicious allegations.Copies will be placed in the Library.