[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 11:41 GMT
Met defends satanic abuse course
Satanic abuse graphic
The Metropolitan Police Force has been criticised for sending its officers on a course which helps identify the satanic ritual abuse of children.

The force sent 30 officers on the one-day event in October but has been criticised by some experts who say the ritual abuse does not exist.

There are 400 officers who work for the Met's child abuse team.

Its commander Det Ch Supt Peter Spindler said they were keeping an open mind when looking at child abuse cases.

Previous research commissioned by the government into ritual satanic abuse (RSA) followed in the wake of a number of local authority scandals, where claims were found to be without foundation.

I feel quite strongly that the pursuit of exotic cases which are categorised as Satanic is actually detracting from are search of abusers of children in less exotic ways
Anthropologist Prof Jean La Fontaine
These included clusters of allegations, such as the Orkneys and Rochdale cases in 1991 where dozens of children were removed from their homes by social workers.

Professor Jean La Fontaine, an anthropologist, was asked in 1994 by the Department of Health to carry out investigation into abuse claims.

She told BBC News "I feel quite strongly that the pursuit of exotic cases which are categorised as Satanic is actually detracting from our search of abusers of children in less exotic ways.

"Ten years on, and I would expect the information and conclusions to have been assimilated into everybody's approach to solving cases of this sort.

Lessons not learnt

"But it appears the lessons have not yet been learnt."

But barrister Lee Moore, who runs the awareness course, said: "I do believe SRA exists because as a lawyer you have to look at the evidence and ask why psychologists, psychiatrists, police, lawyers up and down the country, and abroad, are receiving similar accounts from people who have never met each other."

Mr Spindler defended the decision to go on the course, saying: "If survivors of abuse are telling us that this is the type of thing they have experienced in the past, then we need to be open minded."

Unless we are being racist, if religiously motivated crime exists in one culture then it can, potentially, occur in every culture
Dr Richard Hoskins
Dr Richard Hoskins, who runs a consultancy called Religion and Crime, advised the team looking at the "Adam" case, where the headless, limbless body of an African boy was found in the Thames.

The Met believes he was the victim of ritual murder.

Dr Hoskins says the scientific scepticism surrounding SRA may now need to be reviewed.

"Unless we are being racist, if religiously motivated crime exists in one culture then it can, potentially, occur in every culture," he said.

"The danger, of course, is going back to the position we were in 20 years ago where certain people were looking for it under every stone and round every corner making out this was massive organised abuse.

"That's going too far. We just need a balanced line here."




SEE ALSO:


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific