Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 620-639)



  620. But did you think there was a danger in using photographs?
  (Mr Langdon) We think that there was a danger that it could be construed by other people that it was potentially unreliable.

  621. Why?
  (Mr Langdon) Because there are other methods of identification; photographs is a very early stage in the identification process, and we believe that for sustainable cases there should be clearer and more cogent methods of identification available to us if we are going to sustain a prosecution against a person from a considerable time ago.

  622. I am being a bit dim. You are trying to find out who was at the home. You have justified to the Committee the process of dip sampling and finding the other people who were there. You have a photograph which shows other people at the same time as the complainant. What is the danger of using that?
  (Mr Langdon) I think we are talking about two issues in relation to photographs. One of them is where photographs are retained, for example, by a person who has been in care who can clearly say, "That particular person on that photograph that I have retained is the person I am talking about." I do not think there is a problem with that. What I am referring to is where we as an organisation have a photograph of an accused person that comes into our possession in another manner, and we proactively show photographs to a person who says they were abused.
  (Mr Grange) There is a perception from the evidence given to this Committee, Mr Cameron, that police officers are going up to people who were in homes, showing them photograph of someone and asking them, "Is that the pervert that abused you?" There is no force in this country that has done that. That just has not happened.

  623. How many complainants in the experience of the forces represented here have been serving prison sentences at the time of making a complaint?
  (Mr Tinnuche) Certainly some have. If I had known you were going to ask that question, I could have researched it, but certainly a percentage of victims.

  624. Are we talking about one in ten or more?
  (Mr Tinnuche) I would not like to say.
  (Mr Holland) I would say in our case it was more than one in ten.
  (Mr Grange) We are however aware that it has been suggested that there has been a ring of collusion amongst criminals in prison preparing cases for compensation and allegations. Forces have taken note of that allegation and have time-lined the presence of the alleged victims in prison to see if they were in the same corridor or even the same prison, and that is another myth. We have not found evidence of them being in the same corridor. In fact, forces can demonstrate that people they have dealt with in prison had not been in the same prisons.

  625. There were some cases in the Panorama programme where the investigations had got quite far down the line before some of this time-line work was done.
  (Mr Grange) Indeed.
  (Mr Holland) It was evidence we, for example, presented to courts to show that people had not been in prison together, that the actual collusion could not have taken place. Some of our victims, people who came along and gave evidence, were coming from all over the country back into Cheshire. There was clear evidence that they had not seen each other since the time they had left the home, and certainly not seen each other in prison.

Bob Russell

  626. Mr Grange, you referred to witnesses at the home at that time. Am I right in thinking that for some of these cases to stand up in court you need the volume of people making allegations, bearing in mind the timescale involved? It is not one against one; you need the volume of numerous complainants to make the case stack up.
  (Mr Grange) I am frankly not an expert on that, but the suggestion appears to be that people are convicted because a dozen or so people stand up and say, "He did this to me" and that is all there is to it. There is far more to it than that. The investigating officers can explain for themselves how they corroborate what is alleged, but for myself, I would never accept 12 people saying something occurred unless they could demonstrate to me that the words used were strikingly similar, the behaviour was strikingly similar, the place was strikingly similar, and the behaviour before and after was similar. Just having a dozen people saying something occurred is not evidence.

  627. Going to the dip sampling or trawling, whatever description you use, what happens if some of those who are approached by the police give a negative response, that nothing happened, than Mr Bloggs was OK and nothing much was happening? Are the names of those people and contact addresses made available to the defence?
  (Mr Tinnuche) Yes. We in South Wales would take a statement from that individual just to confirm that they were at that particular home for that relevant period or the time that they were there, concluding by saying that they were happy or satisfied with the treatment at the home. That would come into the major incident room and be registered, and come the time of disclosure, that would be disclosed to the defence solicitors for any suspect who would have the same relevant period as that individual, because that is evidence that could tend to support the suspect, if here we had an individual who was not saying anything happened to him or her.

  628. Do the police at any stage, from your experience, lead witnesses, either former staff or former residents, down a certain path?
  (Mr Tinnuche) No, most certainly not. This is another misconception, that we go along to an individual and more or less tell them what to tell us.

  629. From your experience, would any former colleague in a care home who sought to give evidence in support of a colleague who has been charged, a potential defence witness, be "leaned upon"?
  (Mr Tinnuche) Most certainly not.
  (Mr Holland) Officers have to be very aware that this is a judicial process, and whatever they say to a witness or whatever statement they take is going to be tested in a court of law—in a Crown Court in these cases because of the serious nature of the offences. It would be very foolish of officers to start leading people on with threats or anything of that nature, because undoubtedly it would come out in cross-examination within the court.

  630. So you are satisfied that no potential defence witness has been "leant upon"?
  (Mr Tinnuche) Certainly, as far as South Wales is concerned.
  (Mr Holland) Certainly not.

David Winnick

  631. Mr Grange, as the lead officer in these inquiries and investigations, it has been alleged by witnesses who have been highly critical of the police operation that the police have been motivated in the main by a drive by the media that there were abuses, and innocent people have been caught up, and that the police in fact have acted in a way which has amounted to a witch hunt. No doubt you have seen the Panorama programme, "In the name of the children". What is your response to that?
  (Mr Grange) I actually spent three hours with David Rose once whilst he explained his beliefs to me. It is built on a perception that senior investigating officers are driven by the media—I very much doubt that is the case—and that there is this hunt for detections, that we must catch people and improve our detection rate. Frankly, we would not construct the kind of inquiries that have been constructed here, that last for years, that produce comparatively few, if any, allegations, set against the vast run of allegations that exist, in order to boost our detection rate. These inquiries are done because the police forces, in all honesty, cannot find a way of not doing them. They are hideously expensive, they consume resources, and they are done because allegations are made about the treatment of children in care homes that we as public servants have financed and run. That is the reason they are done. There is no drive by the media that convinces most police officers to do anything.

  632. There is no hidden agenda or anything of that kind?
  (Mr Grange) I have not found it if there is one.
  (Mr Langdon) Can I add to that that certainly from Operation Care, there have been 510 people that have made written complaints and there are 510 suspects. Of those, only 36 people have been convicted and nine acquitted. That makes a substantial number of people that have not been prosected or gone through the court system. If that is a witch hunt, clearly I would argue that that evidence is at the opposite end of that scale.
  (Mr Grange) The danger is, sir, that on the one hand the media are complaining that the police are not doing enough, and the police start to do something and within a couple of years the media and others are complaining that we are doing too much.

  633. So what you are saying, Mr Grange, is that if the police had not acted in the way they have done and there had been these persistent allegations, perhaps going back quite a number of years, that sexual abuse of children had taken place, the police would have been under fire if action had not been taken.

  (Mr Grange) We might well be sat here, sir, with you asking me somewhat different questions. "Why didn't you do anything?" It is our duty to investigate under the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act. We must investigate allegations.

  634. Do you feel that the Panorama film which I have just mentioned was unfair, a slur on the police?
  (Mr Grange) I really would not get into that.

  635. You have seen the film, have you not?
  (Mr Grange) I have seen the film.

  636. It has made allegations in a particular case, as you know.
  (Mr Grange) I just do not see the point of getting into defensiveness about what the BBC and Mr Rose and others say.

  637. Your colleague referred to those who were charged. In your paper to us on the last page you do make the point that, of those persons charged with offences in the Merseyside Operation, some 50 per cent pleaded guilty.
  (Mr Grange) That was as at May 2001. I had 49 people who were charged, 25 of those pleaded guilty, 11 were convicted, two were deceased and the rest were dismissed for various reasons.

  638. You would take that as justification for the operation which the police under your leadership have undertaken.
  (Mr Grange) It has not been under my leadership, sir. These investigations are conducted by separate forces under the leadership of their own Chief Constables.

  639. But you are the lead officer.
  (Mr Grange) I lead on policy and strategy, not on the investigations.
  (Mr Holland) Can I add something in answer to the previous question? A major factor and the reason these investigations had to be run was the consideration whether people having allegations made against them were still working in the child care arena, and a number were. There were public safety issues revolving around that that we just could not ignore.
  (Mr Tinnuche) The first investigation in South Wales was generated by a written request from the Director of Social Services in Cardiff concerning concerns that he and his staff had, in his words, "that there may have been a paedophile ring" in that one particular home. He based those beliefs on the fact that one individual had been arrested, charged, convicted and imprisoned for sexual abuse on children while still working with Social Services. Another individual working at that establishment was under investigation by the Merseyside Police for indecency with children committed in swimming baths in Merseyside. When he became aware that they were coming down to speak to him, he committed suicide in the Gwent Police Force area. That formed the basis of their request for South Wales to investigate. We did not go out looking for a historic child abuse investigation. The Director of Social Services in Cardiff came to us and said, "Please investigate this home, because I have my concerns about what may have been going on."


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