Operation Pallial identifies 37 suspects in child abuse inquiry

Keith Bristow of the National Crime Agency is 'confident' of more arrests

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An inquiry into allegations of historical child abuse in north Wales care homes has now identified 37 suspects, say detectives.

Operation Pallial was set up in November 2012 amid concerns previous investigations into alleged abuse in the care system had not been thorough.

The BBC's The Wales Report has been given access behind the scenes to the National Crime Agency's inquiry.

A senior official is "confident" more arrests and charges will follow.

National Crime Agency director general Keith Bristow said: "We will pursue the truth and we will ensure through the evidence we collect we put the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) in the best position possible to make proper judgments.

"I'm confident there will be further charges and I'm confident there will be further arrests."

So far, 255 people have come forward with claims relating to 28 public and private sector homes.

Start Quote

"I think we're much better these days at recognising what we need to do”

End Quote Jenny Williams Conwy social services

Operation Pallial is currently looking at offences alleged to have been committed against alleged victims aged between six and 19 from 1953 to 1995.

A total of 37 people have been identified as potential suspects and there have been 19 arrests.

The investigation began at the request of North Wales Police's chief constable, who wanted to re-examine claims of crimes and to look again at the original police investigations.

In 2000, the Waterhouse inquiry was established to study allegations linked to homes in the former council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974.

'Impact'

Following Waterhouse, eight people were prosecuted, with seven of them convicted.

The current inquiry is being coordinated from the National Crime Agency's office in Warrington, Cheshire.

A team of 26 officers are working on the investigation and dealing with people coming forward with allegations.

Start Quote

I just hope we get it sorted and we can all move on with our lives”

End Quote Keith Gregory Alleged victim

The inquiry also involves other agencies including the Office of the Children's Commissioner for Wales as well as councils' social services departments.

Jenny Williams, director of Conwy social services, said: "I think we're much better these days at recognising what we need to do to ensure that we support people where they've suffered abuse and the impact on their lives."

Elaine Coulter, deputy senior investigating officer, explained why some people were now coming forward.

She said: "Some people were asked, maybe in the 90s, have they been a victim of crime in a care home and they might have said no, but that time they might have been in a good place with their life. Their partner might not have known, they might have had children and hadn't wanted to talk about it.

"As their lives have gone on - now they have wanted to talk about it."

Keith Gregory, who alleges he was abused as a child while in care in north Wales, said: "I don't want to be sitting here in another 10 years' time like we've been doing for the past 10, 20 years.

"This time it's got to be right and I just hope everyone does their proper job which I think they are doing to be honest with you.

" I just hope we get it sorted and we can all move on with our lives," he said.

The Wales Report is on BBC One Wales on Wednesday at 22:40 GMT.

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