After 17 years, report of care home abuse published

The former Bryn Estyn Children's Home, where seven former care workers were convicted on abuse charges in the nineties. Picture: Getty
The former Bryn Estyn Children's Home, where seven former care workers were convicted on abuse charges in the nineties. Picture: Getty
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A DAMNING report which revealed “extensive” child abuse in a North Wales care homes was finally published yesterday – 17 years after it claimed police officers and other professionals could have been identified as potential “perpetrators of assaults”.

The Jillings Report, which focused on allegations of abuse within the council care system during the 1970s and 1980s, was compiled in 1996, but its publication was blocked by the former Clwyd County Council because insurers feared compensation claims.

A heavily redacted version of the report has now been published online in the wake of fresh investigations.

The report is highly critical of the role North Wales Police took in investigating allegations involving its own officers and also claims other agencies, including the local authority, constrained its investigation by providing “limited information” and, in some cases, refusing to meet with the panel.

North Wales Police described the inquiry as its “largest investigation into child abuse” and said it resulted in 3,755 witness statements being taken with at least 24 victims identified.

The report continues: “It is clear that, in a significant number of cases, the lives of young people who have been through the care system in Clwyd have been severely disrupted and disturbed. At least 12 young people are dead.

“Of the many statements taken, it is unclear how many were forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration. It is also unclear how many other professionals, including police officers, were named in these statements as perpetrators of assaults.”

The report says that it knows of “at least three employees” in the social services department who were interviewed as part of the probe but, “to our knowledge, none of them were disciplined”.

Included in the document is what it calls “frank criticism” of individuals within the local authority.

However, much of that information has now been redacted by the joint North Wales councils due to defamation fears.

The report outlined the widespread abuse of children in care years before the tribunal chaired by High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse revealed its findings.

Allegations about the abuse, centring on the Bryn Estyn children’s home in Wrexham, emerged in the early 1990s, leading to the conviction of seven former care workers.

John Jillings, a former director of social services for Derbyshire, was appointed to lead a full investigation into the affair.

The report said: “Our investigations have led us to conclude that the abuse of children and young people in Clwyd residential units has been extensive and has taken place over a substantial number of years.”

A number of other inquiries have been launched since the Jillings Report, including Operation Pallial, launched last November, which is looking into 140 allegations relating to 18 care homes between 1963 and 1992.

The report adds: “Our findings show that, time and again, the response to indications that children may have been abused has been too little and too late.”

It goes on to call for a judicial inquiry and for all the issues to be addressed “in full public scrutiny”.

A spokesman said: “As a copy of the full report was given to the police at the time of its creation and when Operation Pallial commenced, it is certain that they [the police] were and are aware of anyone who is named within it as a suspected abuser.”

A statement on behalf of six North Wales councils said: “All councils have and will continue to support anyone affected by abuse. In North Wales, the safeguarding of children and young people is a high priority for today’s councils.”

They added “a number of concerns” remain about releasing the Jillings Report as there was “historical concern” about accuracy and defamation.