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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC Investigation Report

B.5: Police and Crown Prosecution Service reviews

The Foster report

106. In the early 1990s, Leicestershire Police appointed C/Supt David Foster of West Mercia Constabulary to investigate how Leicestershire Police handled complaints made by (or on behalf of) children about social workers prior to 1986.

107. The Foster report (published in January 1993) identified 29 instances where individuals had complained to the police alleging abuse (whether physical or sexual) between 1973 and 1986. The report acknowledged that there may be more complaints but suggested that the 29 separate complaints “establish an accurate picture”.

108. In relation to the receipt and recording of the complaints, the Foster report found that:

“in almost every case the contact between the Police and abused child came about as a result of the child being missing from a Children’s Home”.

It included the caveat that the term ‘complaints’ included:

“a whole range of comments from an outright allegation of sexual abuse to a simple request not to be taken back to the home. Some abused children said nothing at all”.

It observed that, while many of the initial complaints were “vague and on the initial information the [staff] could be forgiven for not recognising them as a complaint”, staff should have asked further questions to “establish the reasons behind the comments”, including asking why the child ran away.

109. The report found that “on the rare occasion that a full allegation of sexual abuse was made, the Police took further but inadequate action”, and that allegations of physical abuse “were not recorded and investigated”. In relation to 14 complaints, no action was taken. The children considered that they were not believed. C/Supt Foster noted that “some officers showed their disbelief and even openly expressed it”. He gave the following reasons for this disbelief:

  • the child was in care and had run away from the children’s home;
  • the child may have been initially “hostile” when responding to the officer, and “many told lies”;
  • many officers thought that children would commit crime whilst missing from the home and so would tell “lies, including false allegations, to divert attention from their criminal activities”;
  • some officers “considered that a beating was no more than summary justice”; and
  • on a more general level, there was in the 1970s and 1980s “the public’s non-acceptance of the existence of child abuse”.

110. The Foster report’s recommendations included that:

  • Force Policy and training should acknowledge that an abused child, when first spoken to will rarely disclose the full extent of that abuse”;
  • Force Policy should ensure that Officers record all allegations of abuse as a crime, irrespective of the complainant’s character, background and demeanour and even if the complaint is not believed”; and
  • when the complaint of abuse involved an employee of the care authority, there should be “full consultation” between identified senior members of police and the care authority.

111. The Foster report was important. It highlighted the danger of ignoring accounts of abuse given by children resident in care. However, some of the same negative attitudes highlighted in the report remained within Leicestershire Police many years later, as evidenced by our conclusions on Operation Magnolia and Operation Dauntless.

112. More generally, we heard other evidence of a pervasive culture of disbelief in the 1970s, such that some police officers, some staff within children’s homes and some social workers simply dismissed what they were being told. Mr Robert Parker, a former senior manager at Leicestershire County Council, told us that the general response to allegations of child sexual abuse during the 1970s and early 1980s was that children were simply not believed. He said that it was:

“very, very difficult for people who were not involved at the time to understand what the level of ignorance was … not only in the local authority, but even amongst the police and other agencies”.[1]

113. Retired Chief Constable Michael Creedon echoed these comments. He told us that “by and large” children were not believed at that time and the “tragedy that haunted” him was that police officers had taken children back to children’s homes where they were being abused.[2]

114. As the Foster report highlighted, many children found themselves in a hopeless situation – they ran away from the children’s home to escape abuse, only for the police to disbelieve any complaint they made and return them back to the home. The barriers to complaint were, for some complainants, almost insurmountable, with many complainants feeling unable to report these matters until many years later. The delay in resolution of these matters has inevitably had an impact on all of them.

Operation Nori

115. During Operation Enamel, the police investigation team identified potential breaches of policing standards (the Standards of Professional Behaviour) arising out of Leicestershire Police’s previous investigations into the allegations against Lord Janner. There is a statutory duty on all police officers to “report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below” those professional standards. In September 2014, Leicestershire Police made its first Operation Enamel referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now the IOPC.[3] Further referrals followed in 2015 and 2016.

116. The IOPC investigation – Operation Nori – commenced in April 2015 and concluded in August 2019. Its terms of reference included investigating whether officers involved in those previous investigations (including Operations Magnolia and Dauntless) might have committed any criminal offences, and to identify whether any officer had a disciplinary case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct.[4] Thirteen police officers and one civilian member of staff were the subject of the investigation. One of the officers, D/Supt Graham Thomas (the SIO in Operation Magnolia) died in 2017, ending Operation Nori’s investigation into his conduct.

117. Operation Nori concluded that none of the officers had committed any criminal offence. Potential misconduct offences were identified against three of the 13 officers but, given the age of the police investigations, the officers had since retired and so disciplinary proceedings could not be brought.

The Henriques report

118. In her statement of 16 April 2015, the Director of Public Prosecutions stated that “the CPS considers that some of the decisions made by both itself and the police in relation to past investigations relating to Lord Janner were wrong”. As a result, the Director of Public Prosecutions commissioned Sir Richard Henriques, a retired High Court judge, to “conduct a thorough and independent review into the CPS decision making and handling of all past matters relating to this case”.

119. The Operation Nori and Henriques reports are critical of aspects of the ways in which Leicestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service handled earlier investigations into Lord Janner. The individuals singled out for criticism in those reports have responded to, and often rejected, such criticism in the statements they made to the Inquiry. However, it is not within the scope of this investigation to examine why the Operation Nori and Henriques reports arrived at the conclusions they did. While there is some overlap in the material that this Inquiry has gathered with that seen by either Sir Richard Henriques or the IOPC, this Inquiry has also seen material that was not available to them. As such, we do not consider ourselves bound by the findings of those reports. Our conclusions are based on the entirety of the evidence seen and heard in this investigation, as set out in this report.

References

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