The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will be looking at child sexual abuse in the South West, and especially at the abuse suffered at Forde Park School.

The police investigation into Forde Park was one of the most lengthy and complicated investigations in Devon and Cornwall. The investigation known as Operation Lentisk took three years and cost a total of £3 million. Forde Park School was a Home Office approved reform school in Newton Abbot that was opened in 1933 to help reform disruptive children. The pupils were subject to strict discipline routine and dressed in a uniform. Under county council control discipline became less rigorous as a modern and caring approach was adopted through to its closure in 1985. It was not until the 1990s that the first victim came forward with the allegations of the abuse suffered whilst he was a pupil. The police investigation then started in 1998.

In 2013 the force answered a Freedom of Information request and noted that the operation covered “allegations made against 190 persons by 302 victims at 41 institutions throughout Devon and Cornwall. Eight had been convicted with sentences ranging from six months to 18 years. Three had been found not guilty and one cautioned. Offences charge include, rape, buggery, indecent assault, grievous bodily harm and gross indecency.” Notorious paedophile William Goad who was jailed for life in 2004 at Plymouth Crown Court, claimed the roots of his offending was due to the abuse he suffered by a paedophile at Forde Park School.

The IICSA was set up as there were serious concerns that some institutions and organisations had failed to protect children from sexual abuse. The institutions included councils that managed children’s homes; religious group; custodial institutions and by people of public prominence associated with Westminster. The inquiry aims to allow victims and other organisations the opportunity to speak out about their abuse and the failings. The IICSA has contacted various groups in the South West in February 2017. Evidence regarding Forde Park will be heard by the IICSA next Friday, November 30, in London.

Mr Poole, who is the head of the South West Inquiry Office, told Plymouth Live in 2017:

“This inquiry is not here by accident. There have been patterns of abuse over decades and it’s been a taboo subject for too long. But it had now started to be talked about in a way that society hasn’t in the past and we have to act upon that. IICSA will make recommendations to Parliament based on the stories it gathers, which the Government and the Prime Minister would be expected to act upon.”

Mr Poole stated that

“Legislation may need to be changed and it would be unwise for any future government to ignore any recommendations the inquiry makes.”

If you have been a victim of sexual or physical abuse and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094 or you can request a call back.


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