We need to re-think effort spent on old sex cases: former NI police boss

Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh Orde

Police forces’ focus on historic child sex abuse cases over new crimes is “back to front”, the former head of police chiefs has said.

Sir Hugh Orde, who retired after heading the now-defunct Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the way older cases were dealt with should be reviewed.

The former chief constable of the PSNI told Sky News: “You fully resource a historic investigation, yet you don’t fully resource a current day investigation. That is back to front.

“We have to focus on people who need our protection now. I absolutely understand and respect the need for the victims of these awful cases to have some form of resolution.

“Personally, I would far rather that money was spent protecting the next generation and we look differently at how these past cases are reinvestigated or resolved to a degree.”

Awareness of the scale of historical abuse cases exploded after the Jimmy Savile scandal, which led to the launch of several long-running police probes into high-profile figures.

Scotland Yard ended its £1.8 million Operation Midland investigation into claims of a VIP paedophile ring last month, after the 16-month probe ended without a single arrest.

Sir Hugh’s comments came as he backed a charity called the Dot Com Children’s Foundation, which teaches primary school pupils to recognise signs of grooming and abuse.

But his views drew criticism from Liz Dux, a specialist lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers who represented Savile abuse victims.

She told the broadcaster: “It’s very dangerous if an offender thinks ‘well, if I committed my crime 40 years ago I’m not going to be prosecuted because there isn’t any police money’.

“That would be a terrible message to send out.”