Sir, The campaign on behalf of Falsely-Accused Care-workers and Teachers (FACT) is calling for a review of the dangerous developments in police methods of gathering allegations of abuse in children's homes dating back as early as the 1960s.
We feel that because of the methods adopted by eighty-two special police units throughout England and Wales innocent people are being arrested, charged and convicted along with the guilty.
These investigations use the "reverse of normal police methods" as Detective Supt. John Robbins, head of Merseyside's Operation Care, stated in an interview with Richard Webster in 1996.
Judge Jonathon Crabtree said at a trial in 1999 "Police forces that have fished for allegations of sexual abuse are in danger of garnering false accusations". It is these police trawling methods that lead to false allegations, in most cases fuelled by the attraction of large compensation payments that
concern our organisation. False allegations of this nature have devastated the lives of thousands of dedicated present and former caseworkers and their families.
Even those who have not been accused live in fear that these police trawling methods will dredge up false accusations against them with potentially horrendous consequences.
This departure from normal police procedures is compounded by a judicial process where no evidence is needed by the prosecution to gain a conviction. Merely sufficient allegations by a number of complainants to sway a jury which has had its opinion formed by a sensational press which gives the impression that "You worked in a children's residential home therefore you must be a paedophile"
Sir William Utting, ex-Chief Inspector of Social Services stated on BBC Newsnight (Feb 15) "It may be that innocent people are being convicted but we ought to be more worried abeut the guilty who might get away".
How many innocent people is he, the Home Secretary, Margaret Kennedy and the rest of the country willing to convict? Ten, a hundred or a thousand? Is this the British Justice that we were brought up to believe is the best in the world?
The conviction rates in trials concerning cases of historical abuse in residential children's homes on Merseyside and in Cheshire are running at over ninety per cent.
The brief of FACT, as we are known, is confined to historical allegations of abuse. We do not deal with domestic cases. For more detailed information on these police operations read "The Great Children's Home Panic" by Richard Webster (FACT can supply).
The Catholic Herald, The Guardian and the New Statesman are the only papers to prim articles which express the disquiet felt by thousands of residential caseworkers and teachers. Other national papers will follow when the scale of miscarriages of justice is fully realised.
Lest Margaret Kennedy and those who think like her should get the wrong impression, as she did about Archbishop Ward's sermon, let me assure her that all the members of FACT abhor all forms of child abuse and wish to see the full weight of the law brought against the perpetrators of such abuse.
Yours faithfully Harry Feams Campaign on behalf of Falsely Accused Care-workers and Teachers St Helens Lanes WAIO 6DR www.factnotfiction.org.uk