An investigation into a huge child abuse scandal in the North could be re-opened after questions were raised in Parliament.
Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to look into allegations of “a whitewash” during the investigation into widespread abuse at children’s homes in the North.
Operation Rose involved hundreds of allegations dating back to the 1960s.
Northumbria Police carried out a three-year investigation into sexual and physical abuse at 61 children’s homes run by voluntary bodies and councils in Northumberland, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
But the £5m inquiry resulted in only six convictions, despite uncovering 530 allegations.
The investigation began in 1997 after a woman in her twenties told a social worker that she and a friend had been abused as children in care.
Officers embarked on a process of “trawling” for information by writing to 1,800 former residents explaining that they were looking into homes where they had once lived.
Police regarded 97 individuals as possible suspects, of whom 60 were arrested in connection with charges of child abuse.
Eventually, 32 people who were charged with a total of 142 offences, of which five were found guilty, one pleaded guilty, 12 were found not guilty, nine had cases withdrawn, four died before their cases were heard and one remained on file.
Court hearings continued until 2002.
But the investigation could be re-opened after a series of revelations, including the shocking truth about child abuse by Jimmy Savile, led to concern that abuse and exploitation was more widespread than previously believed.
Northumberland MP Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley, urged Mrs May to look into the affair as he said more alleged victims had come forward.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: “Will the Home Secretary look at Operation Rose in Northumberland, which took place a few years ago? It is becoming more apparent that it was a whitewash as more victims come forward each day and each month.”
Mrs May told him she would investigate.
She said: “It is precisely because I want to ensure that we cover all the cases that have come up that I think it is important that the terms of the inquiry panel are drawn quite widely. I will look into the matter that he raises.”
Mr Campbell has raised concerns about Operation Rose in the past. Last year he told the Commons that one constituent who was in care homes in the 1960s and 1970s had attempted to report abuse he had suffered but was told it was “just what happened in those days”.
But Operation Rose also led to complaints during the police inquiry that innocent teachers, social workers and care home staff were having their lives ruined because of the way police encouraged alleged victims to come forward.
The Government last week launched a wide-ranging investigation into the extent of historic child abuse in the country and whether police, courts, the National Health Service, schools and institutions such as the BBC let down victims.
An expert panel will also have the power to scrutinise the behaviour of political parties, the security services and private companies.
And Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last month urged anyone who was abused by Jimmy Savile at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary to come forward. An inquiry has found Savile made at last three visits to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle General Hospital, but found no evidence of abuse.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 July 2014