A former professional footballer is supporting a scheme, which helps to ensure victims of child sexual abuse get the justice they deserve.
The Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (CSARP), which is a joint enterprise between the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), looks again at cases where a victim or survivor feel the decision to take no further action (NFA) in an investigation was unjust and would like the result to be reconsidered.
The panel, which was set up in June 2013, consider whether the approach taken by the police or CPS was wrong and advises whether the allegations should be reinvestigated and/ or reviewed.
To do this, the panel looks at the information requested of and provided by the relevant police force or CPS area, to decide whether to advise that the original decision was correct or if further action should be taken.
If the decision is made to reinvestigate or review the case, it will be referred back to the police force or CPS area from where the case originated for them to decide on the action to be taken.
If the panel agrees with the original decision to take no further action, the victim or survivor is informed by letter with specialist help and support provided or signposted. There is no appeal point beyond the panel.
Since being set up, 184 cases have been referred to CSARP. Of these,
- 143 cases were reinvestigated by police or reconsidered by CPS (78%)
- 20 cases were agreed NFA by the panel (11%)
- 21 cases where the victim disengaged with the panel (11%)
Of the 143 cases that were reinvestigated or reconsidered,
- 44 cases resulted in NFA by police or CPS (31%)
- 29 cases resulted in a charging decision (20%)
- 21 cases resulted in a conviction (15%)
- 14 cases remain live investigations (10%)
The remaining 35 cases are recorded as either having insufficient details, resulted in NFA due to victim disengaging with the investigation or are recorded as unknown (24%).
Now, a short video featuring former footballer and child sexual abuse victim, David Lean, has been created to raise awareness of CSARP and ensure victims and survivors are aware of how they can refer their case to the panel.
Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (CSARP)
David, who was abused by football coach Barry Bennell in 1980, referred his case to CSARP in 2013. The panel made the decision for police to reinvestigate, which resulted in Bennell being charged.
In April 2015, Bennell pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 14, and two counts of enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment for these offences.
In the video, David speaks about his experience with the panel, why he is supportive of the work they do and why he is encouraging victims and survivors to refer their case, if appropriate.
“If you are not able to move on because you have this anger, this bitterness inside you from your case being dropped five, six years ago or longer, I would recommend you go through this system.
“Without the panel, there wouldn’t have been a second look at my case. There is no guarantee that your case will be reinvestigated and yes, it will be difficult, but it could change your life. It changed my life.”
NPCC lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said,
“We have listened to the experiences of victims and survivors and we are doing our best to ensure that today, they can be confident that if they come forward to police they will be treated with empathy, their report taken seriously and a proportionate investigation will follow.
“Policing has made mistakes in the past and we recognise that some victims and survivors may feel that they have been previously failed. However, the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel seeks to give those victims and survivors the opportunity to get the justice they deserve – as David Lean says in the film, the impact can be life-changing.
“It is really encouraging that 78% of cases being referred to the panel are being reinvestigated or reconsidered by police and CPS, ensuring the case is examined again to present day standards. Whilst some cases do not result in a charging decision, it is crucial that victims and survivors feels they have been listened to and provided with an explanation regarding why the case cannot proceed.”
CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor, Ed Beltrami, said,
“Getting justice for victims of these horrific crimes is a priority and I urge anyone who feels a decision should be revisited to engage with the panel. Working with police, it is imperative we give victims the confidence to come forward and report these offences.
“Since its inception, a number of cases referred have been reviewed, charged and prosecuted. CPS and police have come a long way over the years in understanding sexual abuse offences, and our knowledge and understanding of them will continue to develop. It is important that decisions that were made before this change came about are looked at again.”
Victims and survivors who wish to refer their case to the panel can do so through a dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, victims and survivors can also bring their previous complaint back to the relevant police force and/or Crown Prosecution Service.
CSARP was set up in June 2013 to look again at cases that were not covered by the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme. VRR was introduced to make it easier for victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges or to terminate all proceedings; however, the scheme only applies to decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.
CSARP consists of a Chief Crown Prosecutor, a chief police officer, a specialist prosecutor, an experienced child abuse police investigator, and an appropriate independent representative who meet quarterly to consider whether the approach taken by the police or CPS was wrong and advises whether the allegations should be reinvestigated by the police or the prosecution decision reviewed by the CPS.
Cases will be considered if:
- The report is about an alleged sexual offence against the victim or survivor;
- The victim or survivor is referring to a report previously made to the police about the sexual offence;
- A decision to take no further action was taken by the police or by the CPS;
- The alleged sexual offences was committed when the victim or survivor was under 18 years of age;
- The alleged offender may still pose a risk;
- The alleged offence was committed in England and Wales;
- The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS before 5 June 2013.
It is important to note that even if the victim or survivor has previously asked the police or the CPS to look at the decision they made, their case will still be considered.
Cases will not be considered if:
- The victim or survivor hasn’t previously reported the matter to the police as this will therefore be a new complaint that the police will need to investigate;
- New evidence has come to light prompting a fresh investigation by the police;
- The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS after 5 June 2013.
John Doherty repeatedly raped a 14 year-old girl over a period of months in the Coventry area. These allegations were first investigated in 1995, but upon completion of the investigation, the matter was marked no further action.
Following a referral to the panel in 2015, this matter was reviewed. The panel advised the case should be investigated further and considered for charges. In 2019, Doherty, then 76 years-old and of Malin Head, Ballygorman, Ireland, was convicted of a campaign of rape against the victim over several months. He was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment and ordered to remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Wilmer groomed and sexually abused two girls, one 12 years of age and the other aged under 10, in Robertsbridge and Hastings in the 1990s. This matter was first reported and investigated in 2004, but resulted in a decision to take no further action.
Following a review of the case prompted by a referral to the panel in 2015, Wilmer was charged and convicted of rape as well as several allegations of indecent assault offences. In 2017, the court sentenced Wilmer, then aged 57-years-old and of Emmanuel Rd, Hastings, to 16 years imprisonment with a further 5 years on extended licence. Wilmer will be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court notice
Worthington was accused of abusing three boys in the St Helen’s area in the 1990s, with allegations surfacing in 2005. The investigation concluded with a decision to take no further action.
This case was referred to the panel in 2015, prompting the police to reinvestigate all of the allegations. This resulted in the suspect being charged with numerous sexual offences.
Worthington, then 47 years of age and of Prestwood Road, Dovecot, was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, and ordered to remain on the Sexual Offenders’ Register for life. The court also authorised a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to remain in place indefinitely.