The London Guardian newspaper has reported yet more astonishing confirmation
of the scale of child abuse in the UK (and what goes for the UK goes for the
rest of the world.)
Police in the west country have launched an investigation into what could
turn out to be one of the country's biggest child abuse scandals involving as
many as 20,000 children in council care.
Avon and Somerset police have set up incident rooms in Bristol and Taunton to investigate allegations of institutional abuse during the 1960s, 70s and 80s at residential homes. More than 30 officers have been assigned in the inquiry, which could take up to five years.
The investigation has so far focused on three homes: the Olands observation and assessment Centre in Milverton near Taunton, Somerset, the Kingswood assessment centre and the Kingswood secure unit, both in Bristol.
More than 20,000 boys passed through the two Bristol centres before they were demolished in the 1980s , and several hundred boys and girls passed through Milverton before it closed in 1993.
The enquiry was launched after several former residents came forward following the recent Bryn Alyn care home scandal in north Wales. Several arrests have already been made but senior detectives are said to be overwhelmed by the scale of the abuse they have uncovered.
The enquiry started after allegations of abuse from former residents of the Forde Park approved school in Newton Abbott, Devon. Officers found a disturbing pattern of abuse at the Bristol homes and the investigation was expanded. Many of the suspected victims were boys and girls who passed through the homes before moving back home, to foster homes or another institution.
Steve Pilkington, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, said: "This should put out a strong message to those people who prey in the vunerable."
A force spokesman confirmed a 50 year old man arrested in connection with the Taunton enquiry had been released on police bail. A 55 year old man who worked in the Milverton home was bailed pending further inquiries.
A Somerset social services spokesman said: "We are co-operating fully with the police and will do all we can to assist them in their enquiries."
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