Children's home abuse raised in Tynwald

By by Adrian Darbyshire adrian.darbyshire@iomtoday.co.im Twitter:@iomAdrian in Crime

Allegations of historical sexual abuse at a Douglas children’s home will be raised in Tynwald next week.

Ayre and Michael MHK Tim Baker will table a motion concerning the former Knottfield children’s home, on Woodbourne Road, Douglas, which closed in 1983.

Allegations of abuse at the home were first investigated in 1992-3 and led to a man being convicted and jailed the following year for sexually abusing boys in his care.

Knottfield came under the spotlight again in 1999 when investigations into a suspected paedophile ring in the 1970s and 1980s were launched after links to the island were discovered by Greater Manchester Police as part of Operation Cleopatra.

The family protection unit appealed for information from former residents and staff at Knottfield.

Further alleged victims came forward in the last couple of years but the Attorney General’s chambers took the decision not to prosecute given the age and health of the suspect, who is now in his 80s.

The ’remorseless’ increase in public protection investigations is highlighted in the Chief Constable’s latest annual report.

The report reveals that cases shot up from 294 in 2014-15 to 616 in 2015-16 and then up again to 771 in 2016-17. Ten of those 771 inquiries were into historic sexual abuse, twice the number from the previous year. There were no such cases at all under investigation in 2015-16.

Chief Constable Gary Roberts said the raw data fails to paint a detailed picture of the demands placed on the public protection unit, whose investigations into allegations of child abuse, or abuse of vulnerable adults, are usually complex and difficult.

There were 48 registered sex offenders in 2016-17, down one from the previous year, but the number remains considerably higher than it was a decade ago. Three registered sex offenders were arrested for further offences.

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