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Written Statement - North Wales Child Abuse Allegations

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Carwyn Jones, First Minister

Serious allegations about child abuse in North Wales during the 1970s and 80s have been made in the media over the weekend, and calls have been made for a fresh inquiry.

The Welsh Government takes these allegations very seriously.

In the first instance, victims of abuse who feel that the abuse they suffered was not investigated properly should report their cases to the police.  My officials have been in touch with North Wales Police to ensure they are aware of and considering these further allegations.

The report of the extensive judicial inquiry chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse into child abuse in North Wales – entitled “Lost in Care” often known as the Waterhouse Report - was published in 2000.  It was commissioned (before devolution began) by the then Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt. Hon. William Hague, and reported to the Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy, as Secretary of State, in 2000.  It made extensive recommendations for improving child protection, many of which were subsequently implemented by the Welsh Government.   The Prime Minister has announced an inquiry to examine the extent to which the Waterhouse Report did what it was supposed to do.  Given that Waterhouse was commissioned by the UK Government and reported to the UK Government, and that lines of enquiry cover non-devolved as well as devolved issues, this action seems entirely appropriate.

The Welsh Government, clearly, is responsible for matters that lie within our competence.  I have asked for urgent advice on what was included in the terms of reference of the Waterhouse Inquiry.   In due course that will enable me to consider, alongside any other relevant information, any action that might be necessary by the Welsh Government.  

One of the key recommendations of the Waterhouse Report was the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner for Wales.  I have invited Keith Towler to meet me so that I can hear his thoughts directly.

Finally, I would like to repeat that any victims of child abuse who feel their cases were not fully investigated, should come forward to the appropriate authorities which includes the police and the Children’s Commissioner.