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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Are attitudes towards child abuse changing?


Police say Sir Cyril Smith, former MP, was a sex abuser of boys in the late 1960s.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith should have been prosecuted for child abuse.

Vera Baird QC, who was solicitor general in the last Labour government and Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, and Alan Collins, from the law firm Pannone and represents men who say they were abused by Cyril Smith, examined the implications that this case and cases like this will have on victims of abuse and allegations of abuse in the past.

Mr Collins said that there has not been a significant change in culture: "There is a tone of underline dismissiveness... those who should be looking after children are not really doing so."

Ms Baird explained to Today presenter Justin Webb, "It is about giving [victims of historic abuse]... the confidence to know that they can be believed by the public authorities."

"It is a good thing... that the CPS has said that they would have charged Cyril Smith if he were alive now," she added.

"I hope that will give the victims some satisfaction that they were denied by the way that the criminal justice system functioned in earlier days."

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