Charles Moore, in the Daily Telegraph, assesses the collapsing police investigations into historic child abuse. To what extent are the police prejudicing their own investigations when they start with the belief that all accusations are true?
As anxiety about child abuse has risen, this notion has taken hold. “The victims,” people say, “were not believed,” as if that is indescribably wicked. Of course it is wicked to dismiss accusations carelessly; but in cases about what happened in private, people who say they are victims have to be properly questioned. Some may be mad or lying or simply mistaken. At present, Operations Midland and Fairbank (about VIP paedophiles) have 40 officers between them, compared with 25 or 30 which might investigate a normal murder. If they are chasing crazy rumours, they are squandering their valuable time. Much worse, they are undermining justice.
If you ring the police today and say you are (or were 40 years ago) the victim of child sex abuse, they have, according to the rules, to believe you. They have to interview you, log you as an abuse statistic and investigate your accusations. If you are good at making it up, they may then raid the houses of the people you accuse, seize their documents, and ruin their careers.
You, the accuser, can remain anonymous. In some cases, assisted by the growing numbers of lawyers who specialise in this, you can get financial compensation. Obviously, if nasty people know that they have such power they will use it. In this sense, public figures so accused deserve particular sympathy, because such nasty people – stalkers, people with political motivations – will enjoy accusing them. But in other ways, it is even worse for ordinary people – teachers, parish priests, care workers, paediatric nurses. They have little influence or money, and their lives can be destroyed by a single “victim” with a one-sentence accusation.