North Yorkshire Police is due to give evidence to an independent inquiry into allegations of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, which starts today.
The inquiry’s first public hearings are being held in London and will continue until December 15.
The inquiry seeks to assess how institutions and organisations in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children and the first case study will examine the English Benedictine Congregation which has been the subject of numerous allegations of child sexual abuse, including at schools run by the Congregation.
The hearings will examine the relationship between orders such as the Benedictines and the Catholic Church in England and Wales and consider how that relationship impacts on child protection.
It will also evaluate whether any failings identified within the English Benedictine Congregation, and within any other case studies identified as part of the investigation, are representative of wider failings within the Catholic Church.
North Yorkshire Police’s particular involvement relates to Ampleforth College.
The hearing will also hear evidence from other organisations, institutions and victims of sexual abuse.
The public hearings are expected to last until 2019 and the outcome of the inquiry will not be published for several years, however the public hearings are being broadcast live each day and a transcript will be published at the end of each hearing on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) website.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “North Yorkshire Police is aware of how reports of this nature affect victims and their families. If you are affected by the content of the hearings, you can seek help from a number of organisations, but importantly we want you to feel comfortable in reporting abuse to the police.
“It does not matter when the abuse happened, whether it is happening now or if it happened many years ago. What is important is that you get the help and support you need, that wider safeguarding measures can be put in place and that any perpetrators are investigated and brought to justice. Your information may also help to protect other victims and help the police to build up a wider picture of someone’s offending.
“Even if your abuser has died, you may still need help to come to terms with what has happened to you. Your information could also lead to a wider investigation and still help protect others.
“Over the years, legislation has changed and the police have changed how they investigate child sexual abuse. There is more awareness and understanding of the devastating, life-changing affect it has on victims, and more support than ever before is available from specialist agencies.
“We appreciate that telling the police what has happened takes courage. It is not easy reliving such distressing situations. We understand this and have specially trained officers who will guide you through the process as well as signposting you to other agencies who can help you.
“Child sexual abuse and exploitation is a foremost priority for all police forces and all reports will be fully investigated. Please do not suffer alone, if you have been abused, please report it.”