Great Britain

Police uncover ‘epidemic of child abuse’ in the 1970s and 80s as thousands of historic sex-offenders brought to justice

POLICE say they uncovered a child abuse “epidemic” after thousands of historical sex offenders were brought to justice.

Officers say investigations, dating back to 2014 as part of Operation Hydrant, looked in to non-recent cases of child sex abuse by people in power that date back to the 70s and 80s.

According to a Guardian report new figures - released for the first time since the operation on non-recent abuse claims began - showed 4,024 allegations had led to a string of guilty convictions.

Police claim hundreds of child sex offenders – including teachers, youth care workers and religious figures – had attempted to avoid prosecution.

The say the victims were left traumatised and with severe mental health issues - and in some cases led to children committing suicide.

They believe the report, which show 35 percent of all allegations led to guilty verdicts, demonstrates how inquiries into historical sex abuse was money well spent.

The news come in response to Boris Johnson, who said during his time as a backbench MP in March 2019 that investigations into historical cases required an "awful amount of police time and money".

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the national lead for child protection and abuse investigations, told the newspaper: “We are now having to come to terms, as a society, and we are going to have to recognise and accept, that during the 1970s and 1980s in particular, there was widespread sexual abuse of children taking place.

“These allegations and the vast majority of cases were never reported to the authorities. Some victims did not think they were going to be believed. There was one constant factor: there was an abuse of power - to satisfy their sexual desires.”

Those convicted of heinous crimes include badminton coach Timothy Mawer, 51, who was jailed for abusing seven victims in the 1980s and 90s and John Clifford Davies, 61, a children’s home worker jailed for 24 years for a string offences committed in the 1970s and 80s.

Another convicted abuser, John Allen, 78, was jailed for 14 years for attacking five child victims between 1976 and 1984.

The widespread police operation began after the Jimmy Savile scandal prompted more victims of child sex abuse to come forward.

Around 7,000 suspects were identified as part of Hydrant, with 11,346 allegations of attacks received from 9,343 victims - with some of the claims dating back as far as the 1940s.

Of those cases, 47 percent were not investigated by police because the suspect was dead.

In a fifth of discontinued claims, suspects could not be identified.

And more than one-third of the allegations resulted in convictions at court  - but 6 percent of these had resulted in acquittals.

The newspaper claims the report found some paedophiles had escaped justice, with one offender found guilty of 78 offences based on allegations made by 10 victims.

Chief Constable Bailey of Norfolk police continued: “There was an epidemic of it in the 1970s and 1980s. We do not understand the true scale of it. There is a lot to come out. There are a lot more victims who are yet to come forward.

“The really difficult thing to come to terms with is the untold damage that’s been done to victims and survivors. Some could not cope. It’s the toll that it has taken on their lives.

“Some victims committed suicide. Some coped, some are in the mental care system. The horrors bestowed on these children are horrific.”