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[Image: Lancashire Police.]

[Image: Lancashire Police.]

Long ago in the prehistory before computers, one of the accepted forms of entertainment for young minds was comic books. Every week we’d buy our favourites and pore over colourful tales in which the good guys beat the bad guys to a pulp and then handed them over to the authorities, to face justice.

We didn’t have the slightest inkling that the authorities might actually become the bad guys.

Vox Political has received two distinctive responses to yesterday’s article on child sexual abuse from people who are either currently working on children’s services at local authorities, or have done so in the past. The perspective they provide is both fascinating and horrifying.

The first runs as follows: “I work for a youth service in a local government. We are about to have our service further decimated.

“In presenting this information our deputy director advised, “There is nothing left to cut except preventative services” and that the department has no idea how it will meet the needs of many vulnerable young people.

“He also observed that cutting our service will undermine work in tackling CSE [Child Sexual Exploitation]. We are a Conservative-led council.”

The second is from Colin Smart, who was formerly Director of Social Services at Sunderland. He writes: “This is a subject which I have studied in some depth. After Labour came to power in 1997 Frank Dobson – then Health Secretary – admitted following the publication of the disastrously ineffective Children Like Us report that, had it been possible to prosecute Governments for child neglect, the record over the previous couple of decades would result in successful prosecutions.

“At that point the decision [was made] by Conservative and Labour administrations to cover up the existing knowledge of the scale of crimes of physical including sexual violence against vulnerable children and young adults, including the involvement of “establishment” VIPs. It was not just kept secret, but there was proactive action using the security services and police and through agents using the media to ridicule the idea of rings, sex parties and satanic form rituals where underage adolescents, usually from or who had been in care homes, were trafficked. A prime example of the cover is Christian Walmar’s book in 2000 Forgotten Children although this is the only study of the width of the problem and his assessment of causes in the final chapter is excellent albeit understated.

“We had to wait for a decade and half before the emerging truth about the life of Savile led Peter McKelvie to give his evidence of the cover-up in relation to Peter Righton to Tom Watson and his question to the Prime Minister in October 2012 to set in train developments which have now resulted in the Coalition making the issue the number one domestic priority, following representations by over 140 Members of the House of Commons from all political parties in England and Wales (and Northern Ireland) but only recently in Scotland. In additional to the work of the National Crime Agency all 43 Police forces in England and Wales have formed an overview group as they trawl records in relation to the establishment figures under investigation as well as the handling of ‘historical’ allegations.

“The Coalition Ministers, shocked at what was being revealed, and with the Scottish referendum, the general election and the potential in out EEC referendum as well as Economic and foreign policy matters as priorities attempted to take action to deal with the present while leaving a number of separate bodies, The BBC, The Catholic and C of E Churches combining, an overarching Health Service look at Savile plus investigations into every establishment where someone had come forward with allegations (including some 20 homes and schools) identified to the Minister of Education as the means of dealing with new questions about why and what was needed pending the outcome of the police inquires and those of the IPCC. Most significant was the need to hold a major inquiry again in relation to what happened in North Wales with the Macur review of why the Waterhouse inquiry restricted its terms of reference to crimes against children’s homes and rather like the first Hillsborough inquiry with its 3.15 cut off point Waterhouse did not look at the trafficking of children from care for use of others in other parts of the UK and the failure to give a date when the review will be published suggesting finding akin to Hillsborough.

“We were originally told that the second jointly chaired inquiry in the Missing Home Office files would take 6 to 8 weeks but now it is likely to be grouped with the completion of the Department of Health individual and overarching reviews, those ordered by, the Education Secretary of State and the BBC report when I would hope the opportunity will be taken for a rethink of the July announced Hillsborough style documentation review to establish the extent and nature of the failure of institutions to care and protect and make recommendations.. In fairness the government was bounced into announcing the inquiry by the all party political pressure and which led to extraordinary admission of the cover up by the establishment by Norman Tebbit on the Andrew Marr show.

“So in fact both major political parties where there is evidence of collusion have made disclosure albeit Labour back in the late I990’s and a new statement by a Labour Grandee would be helpful to re-establishing an a political approach to the past and achieving consensus on the future.

“Unfortunately social media branded the Home Secs documents review (schedule to last four to five years as only when all the prosecutions and inquiries are completion with any meaningful overview become possible… remember there was to have been a Leveson 2) as a Child Sex Abuse Inquiry which was never the intention and the clamour of a small group of individual survivors to be involved also complicated the position. The proposed People’s Tribunal was a possible solution although it appears to have run into difficulties.

“Turning to the specific accusations against Labour, the involvement in many situatiosn historically is not surprising as over the Thatcher years the majority of urban local care authorities were Labour, but if you examine the number of investigations you will find there were many in Conservative-run local authorities. The notion of freedom was taken up by some leading lefties with local government involvement in the 1970s with the National Council Civil Liberties being a focus.

“Individual Insurance companies told local authorities they would not be covered if they admitted the truth and several inquiry reports were never published, individual protectionism was provided via Trade Unions and Freemasonry which again cuts across party political boundaries together with local and regional tribalism.

“Those who were involved, especially survivors, will have to wait a year or two before the kind of truth and meaningful sense of justice as well as institutional changes become a reality. The publication of the Rotherham report reinforces the view of the Coalition and Labour, of the Police and service providers that while the historical review is necessary, the focus must be on the present. I would like to see a national study of what happened to survivors, how many have committed suicide and how many have had their children taken into care.”

The more we know of this matter, the darker it becomes. There are no superheroes here to do battle with the bad guys – and even if there were, how could they hand the defeated villains over to the authorities when so many of them are members of such authorities, or other organisations that are keystones of our society?

Above all, on fact seems clear:

If we want justice, we cannot trust the current government to provide it. Looking at the recent past, does anybody really think we can trust the Opposition, either?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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