Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by James Desmond Traynor (CA 72)

  In June 1996 I was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court on six counts of offences of this nature. I did then, do now and will always protest my innocence. I can do no other for I did not commit the offences. If I had been guilty and pleaded accordingly I would have spent less time waiting for the case to come to court, received a shorter sentence, have enjoyed a higher level of privileges whilst in prison and, almost certainly, been released earlier. One would have to be a fool to suffer these added punishments unless one was genuinely not guilty

  For reasons of space I intend to focus on how the social work theory underpinning police methods produces unreliable evidence. Much of current social work theory has its origins in the early 1970s when Social Services Departments were created using a generic social work model. A new qualification was introduced and the social work education became a growth industry. This coincided with a radical shift in the way that social science research was conducted. Previously research followed the quantitative model with strict controls over methodology. In the early 1970s the arguments that this meant that policy was formed on the needs of the majority and this in turn led to the needs of the minority being ignored began to gain ground. The theorists who voiced these concerns advocated research based on the experience of individuals. They suggested that such research should be used to temper policy to meet the needs of the minority. They did not wish it to replace the traditional methods of research merely to temper the way the findings of such research was used when formulating policy. Such "experiential" research has serious methodological failings. It is totally reliant on the veracity of respondents, it is virtually impossible to exclude external influences on the respondent and the choice of the respondent is, by definition, unrepresentative. This was an exciting and innovative development that was seized upon virtually to the exclusion of more traditional forms of research, to a point where it is now accepted as the norm. The result has been the experience of the few has disproportionately influenced the formulation of social work theory. Much of social work theory now suffers from a fallacy of composition. What appears to be a theoretical composition that is logical is anything but because of the lack of supporting empirical evidence.

  Such research relies on the veracity of the subject of the research. This has been translated into social work practice as the assumption that the client is truthful. Even in a therapeutic setting this is flawed but in an investigative setting it is positively dangerous. The development of this approach is clear. It started with the view that children did not have the capacity to lie about such things and grew from there. Current research is clear that children are much more likely to say what they think the questioner wants to hear rather than what actually occurred. Despite asserting that the person must be believed, the police and social workers do not accept what they are told not only by complainants, but also by the children of the accused, but return repeatedly till they get the answers they want. They do not follow their own rules.

  This approach would be reprehensible if it were children who were the complainant but it is not. The complainants are adults. They are, in many cases, adults who have a record of dishonesty (in the case of R v Shuttleworth one complainant had a conviction for trying to defraud the CICA). They are, in many cases, adults who are disturbed, some with a diagnosis of psychiatric problems and substance misuse. (This was true in the case of both my complainants and the argument that it was due to the trauma of the abuse does not stand up because it predates any alleged abuse.) They are, in many cases, adults who have a stand to gain financially and in a plethora of other ways. (In the case of R v Strettle a letter was sent from the enquiry team to the CPS asking that they did not proceed with charges of assault against a complainant.)

  There are two other areas I wish to comment on briefly. The European Convention on Human Rights demands that equality of arms is available to the accused. The investigative methods adopted in these cases assume guilt. There is much evidence of police ignoring evidence that suggests a person's innocence. Unfortunately there is evidence that they have altered evidence to suggest guilt. There is no attempt at "statement validity analysis"—where this has been carried out by academics the flaws are clearly apparent. There is no apparent attempt to uncover the truth despite the fact there is no evidence of a crime. The CPS seems content to ignore these failings and proceed on the flimsiest of evidence ignoring the reason they were set up in the first place. The way the courts rule on PPI, though this does vary, can compound the problem. The accused in cases such as these has no equality of arms because of the methods employed.

  Part of the purpose of these investigations is to prevent child abuse. The only children involved are those who are related to or are family friends of those accused. These children are, at the very least, suffering emotional abuse. In some cases their homes have been attacked and they have been taunted at school. Police and social workers refuse to accept it when these children insist there is nothing amiss. Despite the fact the Children Act insists that the views of the child are taken into account they carry on regardless. As for the Children Act demanding that the interests of the child should be paramount these investigators clearly see themselves as above the law in that respect.

February 2002


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