Butler-Sloss urges more resources

First published in National News © by

Baroness Butler-Sloss called today for the police to be given more resources to investigate cases of child abuse.

In her first comments in the Lords after stepping down as chair of an inquiry into allegations of child abuse by establishment figures, the former judge stressed the need to deal with both historic cases of abuse and "recent child abuse ... going on across the country at this moment".

At question time, the independent crossbench peer said the police needed "more money to cope with both kinds of abuse - those of the past and those of the present".

Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down yesterday from leading the inquiry announced last week by Home Secretary Theresa May following controversy over her selection.

Critics warned of potential conflicts of interest, as the investigation was likely to look into the role of her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, who is reported to have tried to prevent the naming of an abuser in Parliament by whistle-blowing MP Geoffrey Dickens in the 1980s.

Announcing her decision to step down, Lady Butler-Sloss acknowledged then that she "did not sufficiently consider" the difficulties her family connections might cause in the conduct of the inquiry.

Today, in the Lords, Home Office spokesman Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said it was with "great sadness" that Lady Butler-Sloss had stood down, adding: "The Government fully recognises your ability in this regard.

"Certainly it was the Home Secretary's view that you should remain the chairman of this important inquiry."

Lady Butler-Sloss asked ministers to recognise that the importance of investigating historical abuse "shouldn't deflect from the equal importance of dealing with existing, recent child abuse and that which is going on across the country at this moment".

She added: "It seems to me that there needs to be sufficient resources for the police, who at the moment are being cut down in the amount of money they have.

"They really need more money to cope with both kinds of abuse - those of the past and those of the present."

Lord Ahmad paid tribute to Lady Butler-Sloss's "great experience and expertise" on the issue.

He said it was with "great sadness" that Lady Butler-Sloss had, for "understandable reasons" which peers could appreciate, decided to step down from the role.

Lord Ahmad said he shared the concerns raised by the former judge. "This isn't just about looking backwards. It's about ensuring in the future that we protect children in all facets of society.

"The important element is that we engage - that no stone is left unturned historically and no person feels that tomorrow they are vulnerable to sexual abuse.

"This is an abhorrent crime and the sooner we eradicate it from our society the better."

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