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BBC Wales's Social Affairs Correspondent Gail Foley
"Some victims have received compensation. Others are making a multi-million pound claim"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Social Affairs Correspondent Gail Foley
"Sir Ronald is expected to point the finger at those in social services he believes were negligent"
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Peter Clarke, Director Childline Cymru Wales
"I hope the report reflects the recommendation for a children's commissioner"
 real 28k

Monday, 14 February, 2000, 14:08 GMT
Criticisms expected in abuse report

Bryn Estyn Boys Home Bryn Estyn Boys Home - scene of child abuse

Councils, the police and social services inspectorate in Wales are preparing for criticism as Britain's biggest ever inquiry into child abuse is published on Tuesday.

The Waterhouse Report on abuse in children's homes in north Wales is expected to condemn a catalogue of 20 years of sexual and physical abuse of children as "obscene cruelty".

Victims such as 36-year-old Andrew Teague, from Swansea, who was sexually abused by the late Peter Howarth, have already received compensation.

When they tried to speak out they were ignored
Neil Hunt, NSPCC
Others are involved in a multi-million pound claim due to be heard next month.

The success of their actions could hinge on other names which may well emerge from the report as abusers, or negligent in their duty to protect children.

Owen Long, 38, from Aberdare, was sent to Bryn Estyn at the age of 14.

"Not everybody wants to be dragged through the courts to open op a bad dream," said Mr Long.

"But then again, things have to be said."

The government is being urged to force councils to provide an independent voice for children in care.

The call comes from a group of organisations, including the NSPCC and ChildLine.

Sir Ronald Waterhouse Sir Ronald Waterhouse: report's author
The Government is expected to publish the Waterhouse report into abuse in north Wales children's homes - the worst case of its kind in Britain - on Tuesday.

The 18-month inquiry, headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC, covers the alleged abuse of up to 750 children in 40 homes over two decades.

The report is expected to contain widespread criticism of social services and North Wales police.

Widespread abuse

Among the damning evidence is that the Welsh Social Services Inspectorate only checked five residential homes throughout Wales in seven years.

Last year a member of the inspection team was jailed for 14 years for indecently assaulting children.

The inquiry heard allegations against 148 people in 40 homes, centring on the former counties of Gwynedd and Clwyd.

More than 200 complaints of sexual and physical abuse were made at the Bryn Estyn residential care home, where former care worker Stephen Norris was jailed for seven years for sexual offences.

At the privately-run Bryn Alyn children's home, owner Peter Allen was jailed for six years for sexually abusing children in his care.

An independent advocacy service could have prevented many of these cases, child experts believe.

NSPCC child protection director Neil Hunt said: "The tragic and disturbing facts about past abuse in North Wales children's homes were that the children had no one to turn to for help and, when they tried to speak out, they were ignored.

Advocacy services

"If these children had had access to advocacy services to stick up for them, this tragedy might well have been averted," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it would be inappropriate to comment before the Waterhouse report - and the Government's response - was published.

The call for advocacy services has the backing of the Boys and Girls Welfare Society, ChildLine, the Children's Rights Alliance for England, Children's Rights Officers and Advocates, the NSPCC, the National Youth Advisory Service and Voice for the Child in Care.

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See also:
06 Oct 99 |  Wales
Child abuse inquiry report completed
09 Feb 00 |  Wales
Speech precedes Waterhouse abuse report
26 Dec 99 |  Wales
Pressure mounts for children's commissioner

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