Ombudsman identifies failures in Kincora Boys' Home sexual abuse complaints handling by police

The Police Ombudsman has identified police failures in responding to complaints of sexual abuse made by victims at Kincora Boys' Home.

The Ombudsman, Marie Anderson, has written to former residents of the home who made complaints.

She received seven complaints on behalf of former residents about the failure of police to investigate complaints of sexual abuse.

Following her investigation, the Ombudsman has said the complaints made to watchdog were 'legitimate and justified'.The Ombudsman has identified that former police officers failed in their duty to the victims of Kincora because they did not act on the information provided to them during the 1973-1976 period.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland, which was the successor to the RUC during the period referred to by the Ombudsman, said it apologised to the victims for the failings identified.

The PSNI has said it fully accepts the findings of the Ombudsman, noting that all the relevant officers referred to in the investigation are now deceased or retired.The Ombudsman has also identified systemic failings which prevented police from being aware of complaints of sexual abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home which had been made to the Belfast Welfare Authority and the former Eastern Health and Social Services Board (EHSSB).Mrs Anderson said: “The boys who were sent to Kincora were vulnerable children. They were placed in the care of the state where they ought to have been safe and protected.

"The evidence identified by my investigation and previous reviews and inquiries demonstrates that this was not the case.“When boys complained about the abuse they experienced there is evidence that their accounts were ignored or not taken seriously or were not adequately investigated by the Belfast Welfare Authority or the EHSSB. Complaints were not referred to the police."

Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson Credit: Nipso/PA

“I have identified systemic failings and a convoluted complaints system which resulted in police not being aware of all instances of sexual abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home.

"However, I have also identified occasions when police officers did not act appropriately on the information that had been provided to them and intelligence they had received.“Nothing can undo the trauma caused by the sexual abuse experienced by these boys but I hope that this independent investigation into the conduct of former police officers can bring some measure of resolution to the victims and their families.”

In a statement, Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally, Head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Public Protection Branch said:

“Police process of investigation into child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s was radically different to that of today.

"We now have a specialist trained branch of Detectives dealing with investigations of this type and who provide support to victims and survivors.

"This was not the case at the time under consideration in this Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland report. “The systems and procedures we have in place today are very much based on a multi-agency approach, allowing all safeguarding agencies to effectively share vital information and promptly work to put protective measures in place for victims and potential victims. "Sexual offences carried out against anyone in the past can still be, and will be, robustly investigated and where appropriate a prosecution pursued. “We strongly encourage anyone who was sexually abused as a child or has knowledge of abuse taking place to report this to Police. We will listen, treat you with respect and act to keep you and others safe," Mr McNally said.

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