Peter Saunders: There can be no time limit on abuse claims

The Savile outrage has emboldened many victims to come forward. Picture: PA
The Savile outrage has emboldened many victims to come forward. Picture: PA
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YESTERDAY, I took a call from a worried individual who asked, ‘Can they arrest someone for a crime alleged to have happened 50 years ago?

The answer is yes.

There is no statute of limitation on serious crime in this country, nor should there be. If I had robbed a bank decades ago, I know I would be looking over my shoulders for the rest of my life. So why should people who rape and abuse children not have to do the same?

The Savile outrage has emboldened many victims to come forward. The bravery and distress of the women who took part in the ITV Savile Exposure programme seems to have acted as a catalyst for many others to speak out. At Napac, we have been inundated with calls from survivors. And, of course, most of the people we hear from have not been abused by so-called celebrities.

For most victims it was dad or stepdad, vicar or priest, the babysitter, mother even. Most children who suffer abuse are targeted by someone close to them.

We’ve heard too many excuses blaming different times. No. The rape and abuse of children has never been acceptable or tolerated.

What has changed is that more people are speaking out. More people are describing the devastating consequences, and society is finally starting to “get it”.

The greatest benefit of that is that in future our children should be a little bit safer. If there is one thing abusers do not want it is adult survivors speaking out.

• Peter Saunders is the founder and chief executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (Napac).