A recent survey commissioned by the NSPCC showed that the vast majority of the public support the need for child abusers to be prosecuted, regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the abuse. This report comes in light of the recent verdict of not guilty in relation to Coronation Street actor William Roache. It is of course important to note that a number of other people such as TV presenter Stuart Hall have either admitted their guilt or have been found guilty of child abuse offences despite the time that has elapsed since their crimes.
The psychiatric impact of childhood abuse often has a life changing impact on victims’ lives and it is normal for them not to report the abuse they suffered to the police for a number of years. Despite the recent newspaper coverage of “celebrity” child abuse cases, the vast majority of child abuse victims are abused by someone in a position of trust, such as a priest, teacher, scout leader or family member. This not only makes it more difficult for children to understand what has happened to them but means they often fear they will not be believed if they do report the abuse.
It is therefore important for child abuse victims to know that the police, with their designated Child Protection Units, and the Crown Prosecution Service will listen to and act on their allegations of abuse. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, has confirmed that the CPS will continue its attempts to bring suspected sexual abusers to justice.
Child abusers must be prosecuted, regardless of the time that has passed.