As child abuse investigations take shape, old crimes are transforming British society



Prof. Martin Innes writes for The Conversation

The home secretary, Theresa May, has announced a major independent inquiry into claims that for decades, accusations and evidence of child abuse were dismissed, ignored and mishandled by many of Britain’s most important institutions.

She also announced a review of the way the Home Office handled sexual abuse allegations passed to it between 1979 and 1995 – including those submitted by MP Geoffrey Dickens to the then home secretary Leon Brittan.

The allegations of organised historic sexual abuse of children by MPs and peers are already sending huge shockwaves through the British establishment; they point to abuses and cover-ups in the care system and the civil service, among others, and have revived long-dormant inquiries into alleged child abuse by powerful figures at the Elm Guest House in Barnes in the early 1980s.