More than 4,000 allegations of historical child sexual abuse have led to guilty verdicts as a result of police investigations since 2014, according to new police figures.
Operation Hydrant was established in 2014 in the wake of revelations about the extent of abuse by Jimmy Savile to share practice between forces investigating historical abuse cases. According to the data provided to the Guardian, since Hydrant’s launch, 7,000 suspects have been identified, with 11,346 allegations of attacks received from 9,343 victims, all concerning sexual abuse of children with claims going back to the 1940s. It was revealed that 4,024 allegations led to guilty verdicts. More than one-third of the allegations resulted in convictions despite cases having, in the words of the Guardian report, having ‘fewer, if any, forensic clues’ and 6% resulted in acquittals.
Hydrant reckons ‘hundreds of offenders, including teachers, religious workers, youth and care workers’ had been convicted. ‘There was an epidemic of it in the 1970s and 1980s. We do not understand the true scale of it. There is a lot to come out. There are a lot more victims who are yet to come forward,’ commented chief constable Simon Bailey, the national lead for child protection and abuse investigations, told the Guardian.
‘These allegations and the vast majority of cases were never reported to the authorities. Some victims did not think they were going to be believed. There was one constant factor: there was an abuse of power … to satisfy their sexual desires.’
Chief constable Simon Bailey
Simon Bailey has came into criticism in Sir Richard Henriques’ damning review of the Operation Midland fiasco, in particular for the automatic treatment of complainants as victims (see here). Bailey had told the review that only 0.1% of all complaints might be false and any inaccuracy in the use of the word ‘victim’ was ‘so negligible’ that it should be ‘disregarded’.
Sir Richards said that such an assertion ‘bore no relation’ to his own experience. ‘I remain most concerned that the Hydrant team fail to appreciate the danger of false complaints and that a cardinal principle of the criminal justice system is that the complaint maybe false.’
According to the Guardian report, ‘persons of public prominence’ comprise just 3% of suspects and include 44 politicians, 31 from music and 30 from the world of sport.