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Friday, November 20, 1998 Published at 18:48 GMT


Sex abuse alert

Police and social workers investigating allegations of sex abuse at a former children's home have appealed to 1,250 former residents to contact a special telephone hotline.

The Director of Calderdale Social Services, Chris Brabs, said 250 of the 1,500 people who stayed at Skircoat Lodge in Halifax, over the last 20 years had been contacted.

Two former employees at the home have been arrested and remanded at Calderdale magistrates court on a series of sex abuse charges.

Operation Screen

The charges followed complaints to a joint police and social services investigation team, codenamed Operation Screen, which was set up a year ago to look into allegations made by former residents.

A telephone hotline has now been set up in a bid to unearth further witnesses.

Mr Brabs said former residents could be living anywhere in the country and he urged them to get in touch.

He said: "My heart goes out to those who have had the courage to come forward, and we are providing support and counselling to help them cope with their experiences."

Mr Brabs said: "We know many people find it very painful to talk about the past, but they can be reassured that the staff are specially trained and will deal with any approaches sensitively and confidentially."

The number to call is 01422 365948 and it will be open between 4pm and 8pm every day until 27 November.

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