Welcome to another week.

As a report detailing findings in relation to allegations that former Prime Minister Edward Heath was a paedophile is set to be published, confirmation that the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual abuse will be considering the report as part of its work, has emerged.

Operation Conifer, which was led by Wiltshire Police, was set up to look into the allegations and to explore ways to safeguard children and vulnerable adults who could be at risk of abuse today and, where possible, bring living offenders to justice.

Wiltshire Police’s statement reads:

“The operation commenced in August 2015, following an IPCC press release naming Sir Edward Heath as a suspect in an investigation into non-recent child sex abuse.

“Operation Conifer is investigating a number of separate allegations made by persons who have come forward. Two arrests have taken place in relation to Operation Conifer and, at this time, both remain on police bail. Due to the fact that this remains a live investigation it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further at this stage.

“A panel of independent experts outside of policing are providing ongoing scrutiny of the investigation to ensure its proportionality and justification. Furthermore, in line with recognised best practice, Wiltshire Police recently commissioned Operation Hydrant to undertake an independent review of the investigation to ensure its ongoing proportionality and justification.

“Further to the release of the Henriques review Wiltshire Police, in conjunction with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council, will consider where relevant any national guidance and policy recommendations that may impact upon the ongoing Operation Conifer investigation.”

The Inquiry’s role in examining the report has, however, upset some survivors of abuse. The Inquiry has said that it will only be looking at how law enforcement agencies responding to allegations of sexual abuse. Survivors have expressed disappointment at this position, preferring to see the Inquiry use its powers to uncover new evidence rather than assess the appropriateness of government bodies’ responses to claims of abuse, based on the current evidence before them.

One of the great difficulties in examining periods in history where alleged abuses took place is being able to find evidence relating to alleged crimes, with much vital data either lost or purposely destroyed.

Our question this week then is this: do you think the Inquiry should be doing more than just assessing responses or is that all the public and survivors can hope for given the Inquiry’s scope and limited access to often decades-old evidence? 

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