Last week I wrote a blog showing how David Cameron had failed to implement immediate help for people who witnessed child abuse. Downing Street responded by saying that there was £10.5m was available to help.
Not only has this proved to be wrong . But the situation is far worse than I could have imagined. The government is closing down what specialist support that might be available just when the police led by the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit are expanding their investigations so people all over the country are being contacted about historic child abuse – whether over Savile or the Fernbridge and Fairbank operations or further allegations against music schools or Roman Catholic priests.
Now I have learned from Graham Wilmer, pictured above, that we are just a week or so away from the closure a pioneering project in Merseyside, the Lantern project. This project ( see http://www.lanternproject.org.uk) is unusual since it is run by a person who was sexually abused in his youth. It is also a specialist site.
Mr Wilmer is alarmed about the situation facing people now being contacted by the police who cannot get help. See my article in Exaro News (http://www.exaronews.com/articles/4909/child-sex-abuse-groups-offering-support-services-face-closure) for the full story.
But his experience of government support under the coalition is appalling. First the funding of his centre was halted by the justice department under Ken Clarke. Then he was advised to apply through the Cabinet Office under Francis Maude who pushed him to the Big Lottery. But the Big Lottery would not fund him for bureaucratic reasons – and only the use literally of the old boy’s network – did he get any cash. He rang Gus O’Donnell, then Cabinet Secretary, who used to be head boy at his old school to explain the situation. An hour later,he says, £29.000, was promised to the charity.
The money was given to put on a course to train health professionals in giving proper support to people who had been abused as children. But the NHS re-organisation under then health secretary Andrew Lansley, meant that the local primary care trust, was being abolished and did not send anyone on the course. Its successor body may have some money under Jeremy Hunt next year, but by then the centre will be closed.
As he said: “We will be closing down in two weeks time. The outgoing government did promise to set up a national strategy which would include funding for child sexual abuse but this was cancelled by the new government.”
His will not be the only none. Fay Maxted, chief executive of the Survivors Trust, said: “A significant number are going to have to close as they are funded by private trusts and money from the lottery and this is not forthcoming.
So far from the government supporting victims and witnesses to child sexual abuse – they are actively hindering any help. Cynics might think the ministers might not care because after all some of the alleged paedophiles are linked to the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties in the past. I do not think this is case but people could be forgiven for thinking it.
This situation is a disgrace and the present coalition government has not got a grip on the scale of the problem. Hang your heads in shame Francis Maude, Jeremy Hunt and the present justic secretary, Chris Grayling. You don’t seem to have clue about what is happening.