Thursday, July 24, 2014

MP letter re Child Sexual Abuse by VIPs

I have sent a letter from here to my MP.

This is such an important issue, not just because of the massive suffering that has been inflicted on children, not just because of the massive injustice that has been compounded on the suffering as they have been ignored and disbelieved, and their abusers protected by police and other officials, but because the body politic cannot be healthy when it is holding onto such an abscess, repressing such filth.

So please copy, personalise and send this letter to your own MP. This issue is big. I know it is difficult to be interested in anything other than Gaza at present, but we must strike while the iron is hot.

Use the Write to Them website to send your letter electronically.

Dear [MP name]

I am sure you are as concerned as I am at the disturbing stories that are emerging of historic child sexual abuse by VIPs. There is strong prima facie evidence of this, and many instances of cover-ups by police and others in authority. It is a deeply concerning narrative of multiple forms of abuse that tails off into some very dark and extreme allegations.

Some of the evidence is summarised on a brief, concise website here:

It is clear that there is a need for major policy changes to diminish future abuses, and especially to remove the immunity that politicians, civil servants, police, security services, churchmen and other Establishment figures have been enjoying.
I would like to put before you some policy changes that are needed, for your comments. As this is a rather long letter, I have put specific questions in bold.

First, I would like to ask you to ask that the Whips of your party organize a thorough review of past archives in the Whips’ offices to try to find any records of wrong-doing that may have escaped destruction. If you find any, I ask you to copy them carefully and fully before passing them on to Operation Fernbridge and the overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse by VIPs, in order to avoid any inadvertent losses that have occurred previously, as for example with the Dickens dossier.

1 Overarching Inquiry
We need one single overarching inquiry with the widest possible remit to follow all leads wherever they may take the inquiry, and irrespective of how senior and important the suspect may be. The inquiry will need a disinterested judge who is not embedded in the Establishment to lead it. Michael Mansfield QC has been suggested.
There is also a need for one or two survivors of abuse to be on the panel of the inquiry, and I understand that the Home Office is minded to accept this suggestion, but I would be grateful if you would make sure that this proposal sticks.
A preliminary report from the Inquiry should be published at least one month before the General Election in 2015 so that the electorate can use the information to make a decision when it comes to the vote.
In order to facilitate the process of the inquiry an amnesty should be offered to witnesses (Civil Servants, officials etc) who have been accomplices in past cover-ups. This amnesty is to be superseded at the end of the inquiry by more rigorous laws and penalties that are at present being put forward by the NSPCC for anyone found to have assisted in cover-ups This stick-and-carrot approach will encourage witnesses who would otherwise hold back out of fear for offending powerful people.
The inquiry should look at the methods and conclusions of Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. It should also learn from best practices in other countries.

2 Abused people as witnesses
One of the central problems in our adversarial judicial system is that abused people, especially those who were brought up in children's homes, are not "good witnesses". As a result of the circumstances of their upbringing and their abuse they have low self-esteem, low self confidence, are often not good communicators and are often poorly socialised. Some have criminal records.
In court, it is exceedingly easy for a barrister from a privileged background, public school and university education, a professional familiarity of Court procedure and a supercilious manner to reduce these witnesses to tears and destroy their credibility.
In the case of child witnesses, and I understand, rape victims, courts understand the asymmetry and injustice of this situation, and children and rape victims are now able to testify via video links and personal, one-to-one interviews with the judge. There is a good case to be made to allow survivors of child abuse to be offered this privilege. In some was they are still children, since their maturation process has been disrupted by the abuse.
This privilege can be compared to that available to security service operatives, who are sometimes allowed to testify in court from behind a curtain.
Can you press for this facility can be extended to survivors of child sexual abuse please?

3 Institutions caring for children
Child abuse - physical, sexual, emotional or neglectful - can occur in any setting including the family home, but the opportunity is greater in institutions where children are available 24/7 to people who have no family connection with them. All residential institutions for children, including boarding schools, should be subject to unannounced inspections, and the whole system of care home inspections must be thoroughly reviewed. Inspectors must be available to talk one-to-one with any child who wishes, or whom they decide to speak to. They will be trained in reading body language and sub-text in verbal communication, and have powers to move any child to a place of safety immediately if they think it necessary.
Reporting of children with behaviour or symptoms suggesting they are at risk should be mandatory.
Penile plethysmography or other, more sophisticated, investigations of sexual arousal for "carers" suspected of abuse should be considered.

4 Care for abusees and survivors
Supportive counselling must be made freely available for all survivors of abuse, but fortified with CBT and specific brief and effective techniques for treating their condition.
A compensation fund to assist those in economic difficulty should be considered.

5 Treatment for convicted abusers
Up to now, the only treatment offered has been psychotherapy. There is scant evidence of its effectiveness, and it is offered to only a small proportion of offenders.
There is some evidence that hormonal therapy is effective in controlling paedophilic motivation, and this is beginning to be trialled in the UK. The roll-out of these trials should be speeded up.
I am very grateful to you for considering these several points, and for taking action on them.

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