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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 18:58 GMT
Government acts on abuse report

Paul Murphy: "Sorry is not enough"

MPs have heard of the "appalling suffering" of the children subject to widespread sexual and physical abuse in children's homes in north Wales over a 20 year period.

Sorry is not enough and we are determined that this report will lead to a society where young people can be cared for in safety and where they can truly enjoy their childhood.
Paul Murphy
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy told MPs the report by Sir Ronald Waterhouse catalogued "deeds of appalling mistreatment and wickedness; of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and of the total abuse of trust".

He said: "To those whose lives have been shattered, to the families of those who have died and to all decent thinking people, of course we all say 'sorry'.

"But sorry is not enough and we are determined that this report will lead to a society where young people can be cared for in safety and where they can truly enjoy their childhood."

Immediate steps

The Welsh secretary announced immediate steps to track down missing individuals named in the report who have been convicted of offences against children or whom the tribunal found had harmed children or were unsuitable to work with children.

Report examines two decades of abuse
Mr Murphy said there was no evidence of persistent sexual abuse in children's residential establishments in Gwynedd, but that sexual and physical abuse did occur in a small number of children's homes in the county.

There was also evidence of a paedophile ring in the Wrexham and Chester areas.

The tribunal recommended the appointment of an independent Children's Commissioner for Wales and that every social services authority in both England and Wales should be required to appoint a children's complaints officer.

Mr Murphy said the National Assembly in Wales was already working on proposals for a Children's Commissioner for Wales and the government would be considering how best to take this forward.

Mr Murphy said health and local authorities in England and Wales were being asked to check their employment records immediately to see whether the named people in the report are currently working with children or other vulnerable groups.

The report is also being sent to police authorities, NHS trusts, voluntary sector groups and other bodies that have a role in the protection of children to enable more checks to be made.

Conservative Welsh spokesman Nigel Evans said child abuse was "the greatest scandal to hit the modern welfare state".

He told MPs: "It leaves you filled with many emotions and feelings - the main one for me is that of a sense of betrayal, and our system has betrayed the very people who needed our help most.

"It didn't just fail them, it didn't just fail to deliver for them and it didn't just not live up to their expectations and our intentions but it betrayed them."

He warned there was no need for a "knee-jerk" solution producing a short-term fix to what were "long term deficiencies and decay" and called for all the recommendations to be looked at carefully.

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See also:
15 Feb 00 |  Wales
'Wicked' child abuse condemned
15 Feb 00 |  Wales
Decades of silent suffering
15 Feb 00 |  UK
Children in care: Now and then

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