Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Wales
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

BBC Wales's Social Affairs Correspondent Gail Foley
"A police investigation in the 1980s was criticised as sluggish, shallow and inadequate"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Sian Lloyd reports
"Andrew Teague was a victim of paedophile abuse"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 07:55 GMT
Decades of silent suffering

Waterhouse Report Graphic The 12m tribunal was set up after decades of disquiet

by BBC Wales's social affairs correspondent Gail Foley

The Waterhouse tribunal - the largest child abuse inquiry ever set up in the UK - heard evidence from hundreds of victims.

The tribunal was established following decades of disquiet over the children's home care system in north Wales.

In all, Sir Ronald Waterhouse and his two fellow tribunal members heard evidence from 650 people who had been in care in north Wales since 1974.

Complaints were made to the inquiry about 40 homes in the old north Wales counties of Gwynedd and Clwyd, although most allegations centred on just seven.

Not all the alleged abuse - at homes across the region - was sexual. Much was physical - children being thumped, kicked and hit for minor misdemeanours.

There's a total acceptance that across Britain we have all totally failed to protect the most vulnerable children in our care
Wrexham councillor Malcolm King
North Wales police mounted an investigation in the 80s which was later criticised as sluggish, shallow and inadequate. Still the allegations persisted.

The former Clwyd County Council then commissioned a report from an independent expert - John Jillings - to look into the allegations and the care system.

But the victims' hopes that the full story would come out were dashed when the Jillings Report remained under wraps following advice from the council's insurers.

That report named abusers and those considered negligent in failing to stop their activities.

Lacked the will

Those criticised included the Welsh Office's Social Services Inspectorate for lacking the will to police local authorities in Wales.

Finally in 1996, William Hague - then Welsh Secretary - decided a full public inquiry was the only way of quelling public disquiet. The North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal - chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse - was established.

Those who worked in childcare then - and now - know the report's criticisms are likely to be harsh, and its recommendations far-reaching.

There are still concerns that the report may shy away from naming all those suspected of abuse and those who allowed it to happen.

Protecting children in the future

Wrexham councillor Malcolm King fought for the inquiry. He believes the Waterhouse report will have a huge impact on councils throughout Britain.

"There's a total acceptance that across Britain we have all totally failed to protect the most vulnerable children in our care," he said.

Some victims have already received compensation. A court action involving many others is to be heard next month.

But other victims - like Owen Long of Aberdare - have refused money.

For them, making sure children are protected in the future is more important.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
14 Feb 00 |  Wales
Criticisms expected in abuse report
06 Oct 99 |  Wales
Child abuse inquiry report completed
09 Feb 00 |  Wales
Abuse victims' evidence was 'harrowing'
26 Dec 99 |  Wales
Pressure mounts for children's commissioner

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Wales stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wales stories