Friday 07th August 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

May Lodge and Throxenby Hall

December 23, 2019 North Yorkshire Police

May Lodge and Throxenby Hall

by TIM HICKS

~~~~~

May Lodge Children’s Home

Five reports on the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) website have caught my attention recently:

Report on a successful investigation in Filey here.

Reports of successful investigations by York CID into separate sex attacks on young girls in 1968 (article here) and 1996-8 (article here).

Reports on successful investigations by NYP’s Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team (NRAIT) into abuse at a school in Ripon (article here) and the May Lodge National Children’s Home (article here), which resulted in a man being jailed for eleven years:

Detectives also identified two other offenders who worked as live-in carers at May Lodge during this period, Maurice Berry, 64, from North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, and Ray Vasey, 72, from Darlington, who were sentenced to 13 and 17 years’ imprisonment respectively in June and July this year. They sexually abused three young girls each.

Detective Constable (DC) Alison Morris, from the NRAIT, led the investigation into the three offenders at May Lodge. 

DC Morris said:

“The victims of these depraved offenders have endured decades of turmoil stemming from the sickening abuse they endured as very young girls.

“Their terrible experiences will live with them forever, but I really hope they have gained a measure of comfort knowing that justice has now been served. 

“I have nothing but admiration for the bravery of the victims in this case.” 

DC Morris added:

“Even after all these years, it shows once again that it is never too late to report non-recent sexual abuse and secure justice. 

“The Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team is fully equipped to support victims at every stage. Victims can have confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect throughout. 

“If you have been a victim of such crimes, no matter when it occurred, please do not suffer in silence. We are here to help you.”

I read the above articles from (NYP) concerning successful investigations into sexual abuse of vulnerable children at the May Lodge National Children’s Home with mixed feelings. Sadness over the ordeal these vulnerable children suffered, anger that they were betrayed by people that were supposed to protect them. Admiration for the police officers who have undertaken the harrowing task of investigating these offences so skilfully.

Historic sexual abuse crimes are very difficult to investigate and successfully prosecute, so it is clear that the NYP and the Crown Prosecution Service have conducted a most creditable investigation to secure these three convictions. They should be congratulated on this success.

Whenever a child abuser is convicted I believe it deters others from similar offending. So it is commendable that NYP have a specialist team that can conduct this type of complex and sensitive investigation. It is also good that the media gives more prominence to reports on this type of offending.

However, it has not always been so.

The historical context

Historically in North Yorkshire child abusers routinely went unpunished. This was for a variety of factors, including:

  • The abusers were often authority figures (prominent businessmen and politicians like Peter Jaconelli; media figures like Jimmy Savile; teachers; authority figures like volunteers and social workers in institutions like the May Lodge Children’s Home and Throxenby Hall).
  • The Police were focussed on acquisitive crime like burglary, not child abuse, which was given a low priority.
  • Lack of specialist police officers trained in this type of investigation.
  • Refusal to believe victims, particularly if they were children, delinquents or vulnerable adults.
  • Failure of the media to cover child abuse cases and raise public awareness of the problem, or to challenge the police.
  • Reluctance to investigate cases such as Savile, Jaconelli, the Harrogate Ripper attack and the murder of “Hope” which would reveal policing failures by NYP and result in media criticism and/or prosecution of police officers.
  • Complete failure of the police intelligence function by the Force Intelligence Bureau, which was unable to process or record intelligence, or disseminate it for investigation.
  • Failure to engage with the media, particularly local media when investigating allegations of sexual abuse of children.

Consequently there were a series of failures to investigate sexual abuse and serious crime in North Yorkshire.

The Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile paedophile ring in Scarborough 

No police officer has faced prosecution or censure for the inexcusable failure of Scarborough Police to arrest Savile and Jaconelli.

No action has ever been taken against Deputy Chief Constable Sue Cross over her investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, which concluded there was no intelligence or evidence of crime by Jimmy Savile, without interviewing the NYE team or the witnesses it had traced. NYE Report here.

BBC reports here and here.

Interestingly, Savile featured in the May Lodge National Children’s Home investigation in 2012. Briefly, Savile initially moved his Mother to a house in Filey Road, near the May Lodge National Children’s Home. An internet posting confirmed that he had some contact with at least one child from the home as a result of his charity fundraising.

I had a concern that he had selected Filey Road to buy a house because of its close proximity to the May Lodge National Children’s Home and may have been involved in offending there. I reported this concern to Operation Hibiscus the NYP investigation into Savile, it found no evidence of offending by Savile.

Throxenby Hall 

Another institution that caused concern to the NYE team was Throxenby Hall (pictured above), which was a residential school for troubled children run by North Yorkshire County Council, situated in Lady Edith Drive on the outskirts of Scarborough. It was not an approved school or a borstal. There have been allegations of both brutality and sexual abuse of the children there.

Although I have tried to keep Throxenby Hall in the public eye through NYE coverage, the reality is that the NYE has not been able to get to the bottom of what was going on there. We know that:

  • One boy named or thought to be named Mennel died in a mysterious swimming pool accident.
  • There have been allegations that Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli visited the school, that everyone in the school knew about Jaconelli and that the boys were being trafficked to him by members of staff.
  • One former pupil has written to the NYE that he saw no evidence of Peter Jaconelli or Jimmy Savile at Throxenby Hall. He stated that the boys were taken on a trip to Leicester with a member of staff, who got them all drunk and abused them. This man stated that he reported it to NYP about two years ago and gave a full statement of what he had endured and then heard nothing more. I have not been able to independently verify this, but given the length of time that has elapsed this is not unusual or unreasonable.
  • Despite having the information above that a victim of historic sexual abuse had made a complaint to the police and been ignored, Chief Constable Winward failed to follow up with the NYE and try to find out what happened. This clearly undermines the assurances given by DC Morris above that “it is never too late to report non-recent sexual abuse and secure justice. Victims can have confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect throughout.”
  • In July 2015 the Yorkshire Post announced arrests over abuse at Throxenby Hall. Yorkshire Post report which is obviously based on a police briefing here. NYE report here. NYE enquiry to Chief Constable Winward about the current status of the Throxenby Hall investigation below:

From: Timothy Hicks

Sent: 10 April 2019 18:09

To: Office of the Chief Constable (OfficeoftheChiefConstable@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk)

Subject: Throxenby Hall investigation 

Dear Chief Constable Winward, 

I write concerning reports of an investigation by your force into child abuse at Throxenby Hall, Scarborough. According to these reports, three men were arrested in connection with multiple offences of abuse over thirty years. 

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/three-held-over-30-years-of-abuse-at-scarborough-boys-home-1-7338229 

Please can you confirm if the statements attributed to your force are accurate and if so: 

    • The current state of the investigation. In particular, if the three men arrested have been charged, are on police bail or have been released from police bail and if the investigation is closed.
    • If the investigation was able to establish if Savile and Jaconelli had visited Throxenby Hall.
    • If the investigation was able to establish if pupils from Throxenby Hall had ever been taken out of the school to meet Jaconelli or Savile in Scarborough.

I thank you in anticipation of your assistance in this request. 

Yours sincerely, 

Timothy Hicks

Needless to say, my enquiry was ignored and this appears to be another failed investigation into the abuse of children by NYP that has been abandoned and shrouded in secrecy.

The Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit

Following public concern arising from the Rotherham child abuse scandal; in September 2014 Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan ordered a review of the ability of North Yorkshire Police to undergo a thematic in depth ‘health check’ into its practices and procedures relating to Child Sexual Exploitation, to ensure nothing like the Rotherham scandal could occur in North Yorkshire. 

“Child Sexual Exploitation is quite rightly a top priority for both me and North Yorkshire Police, and on behalf of the public I need to by fully reassured this is being dealt with appropriately. I have asked the Chief Constable for a comprehensive update on our plans to tackle this issue, how we are working with partners, and most importantly, what we are doing to safeguard children from sexual exploitation.”

The report was issued by Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason on the 15th of October 2014 and published by PFCC Mulligan shortly afterwards.

We were told that the all was well with NYP’s dedication to investigating into abuse of children and old people. To quote Detective Chief Superintendent Mason in the report: 

“Operationally NYP works to a nationally recognised method of gathering, accessing, developing and acting upon information and intelligence called the National Intelligence Model (NIM). NIM processes are such that they create a series of well-established daily, fortnightly and monthly operational meetings. All key managers attend and through analysis of current intelligence and information are informed of dynamic events that affect the operational plans and priorities set by senior police commanders. Regionally NYP form part of the Yorkshire and the Humber (YaTH) force CSE sub group. That group meets quarterly with Intelligence and PVP managers to discuss and share best practice and understand cross border issues from a regional perspective”.

At the same time as the report was being issued, according to a Judge’s remarks in July 2014 and the police officers that were working in the North Yorkshire Police PVP Unit, it was in fact a shambles.

This NYE report The Strange Case of DC Lane covers this in detail.

The Project Spade fiasco

Then one month after the publication of Detective Superintendent Mason’s report it was announced that the IPCC was to investigate the failure of North Yorkshire Police to process intelligence about paedophiles. BBC report here.

The following press release was published in October 2015 by the Independent Police Complaints Commission:

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into how North Yorkshire Police (NYP) handled intelligence from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) has led to a police staff member being disciplined for misconduct and changes in how the force now deals with such intelligence. 

On 26 November 2013, intelligence was received by NYP from CEOP relating the purchase of DVDs from Canada containing indecent images of children. This intelligence was not acted upon by NYP until the week commencing 29 September 2014. 

The investigation found that an NYP intelligence officer in the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) failed to adequately deal with the intelligence. A case to answer for misconduct was found by the investigator.

The IPCC also identified learning for the force to that would stop individual errors resulting in intelligence not being progressed. NYP accepted and has now implemented all of the recommendations. 

IPCC Commissioner Kathryn Stone OBE said: “North Yorkshire Police have acted promptly to put in place new ways of working following our investigation.”

The IPCC investigation can be read here.

Ampleforth College failure 

In 2016 a major investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse at Ampleforth College by NYP failed on evidential grounds. This report from The Independent refers to the NYP investigation as “botched”. It was alleged in The Times that NYP did not interview two witnesses that were former pupils of the school and had information about further alleged sexual offences.

NYE investigation into the murder of “Hope”.

The NYE has traced five witnesses that have given important new evidence that obviously warrants re-opening the case into the murder of a woman in the Scarborough area in 1979.

NYE investigation here

Three-dimensional wax reconstruction of the victims head and face.
Did you see her in Scarborough at the Victoria Road bus stop?

Yet NYP will not interview any of them. The same tactics used by Deputy Chief Constable Sue Cross to prevent any investigation of Jimmy Savile. Nor will it declare the woman we suspect is the victim as a missing person or comment on the case at all. Again, the case has been shrouded in secrecy.

From: Timothy Hicks

Sent: 28 July 2019 13:16

To: Office of the Chief Constable (OfficeoftheChiefConstable@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk)

Cc: Information NYPCC (info@northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk); nypcp (nypcp@northyorks.gov.uk)

Subject: “Nude in the Nettles” murder 

Dear Chief Constable Winward,

“Nude in the Nettles” murder. Missing person report

Further to my e mails of the 30th, 26th and 11th of May 2019, which you have ignored, I am writing again concerning the Nude in the Nettles murder.  

Your force has confirmed that it reviews my articles on crime published in the North Yorks Enquirer, so you will be aware that as a result of an appeal I ran featuring the full description of the deceased known as “Hope” or the “Nude in the Nettles” murder. Mr Norman Murphy has come forward with a credible identification of the victim as a woman who frequented Victoria Road in Scarborough. Further information in the article below: 

http://nyenquirer.uk/hope-new-evidence/ 

In addition to producing an identification of the victim, I believe it will be possible to provide your force with information of the current prime suspect known as “The mystery caller” and identify that the “Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe should be designated as a prime suspect in this offence and interviewed under caution over this offence.   

Obviously it is deeply disappointing that you have chosen to ignore my correspondence and your force has not followed up on this information. I believe this is because of your personal disdain for new media and because I have criticised the conduct of the North Yorkshire Police investigation into this crime. Further information in the articles below. 

Therefore in order to force North Yorkshire Police to take action, please can I ask that you:

    1. Record the lady identified by Mr Murphy in my article above and who suddenly disappeared from Scarborough in about 1979, as a missing person.
    1. Request a review of the murder investigation known as the “Nude in the Nettles” by another force, preferably the Metropolitan Police.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course. 

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Hicks,

Freelance journalist

Needless to say, I have received no response from the Chief Constable or from NYP CID.

Could this be because any fresh investigation will reveal that the two previous investigations by NYP were bungled? Surely not.

Vetting of NYP officers and staff 

Recently there has been concern that police officers are not being adequately vetted according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report here.

This follows the arrest and conviction of a Constable from Cheshire Police for the rape of a child. BBC report here. This man apparently joined the police specifically for the opportunities it offered for meeting vulnerable girls and using police computer systems to research victims. He was not vetted and so consequently his criminal past, which should have prevented him from being a police officer or from committing the rape, was not revealed when he joined the police and became a predatory PC.

Despite years of warnings the police service has not learned that police officers that are specifically tasked with dealing with vulnerable persons (In NYP, the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit (PVPU)) or those that will routinely come across them in the course of their duties (neighbourhood police officers and CID family liaison officers)) must be fully vetted.

This Guardian article states that of 202,000 police officers, staff and contractors in the UK, 35,000 have not been vetted. In the year ended March 2018, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) received 143 referrals for abuse of position for a sexual purpose. HM Inspector Zoe Bellingham also revealed:

“There have been national vetting standards in place since 2006. However, HMIC has previously found these were not fully implemented at some forces.

The inspectorate called for all forces to vet staff by December last year, but few have achieved this. 

“We were surprised to find there’s no requirement to vet officers at point of transfer. Some police predators who get wind of the fact they’re about to be caught run and move from force to force. There’s no way of sharing intelligence between transfers.” 

In response to media enquiry from me NYP confirmed that

“All North Yorkshire Police staff and officers with access to Force data, premises and systems are all fully vetted. This includes all staff who deal with children and vulnerable adults.

More positively, the HMICFRS report goes on to state:

“We found that the force has addressed our 2016 recommendation to make sure that all members of the workforce have at least the basic level of vetting. The force maintains effective vetting health checks and renewals, with minimal backlogs, supporting its need to ensure only appropriate candidates are employed or placed in designated roles. It has increased the capacity of the vetting team and the vetting co-ordinator plans to enable vetting processes to be renewed.” 

So it appears that this issue has been addressed and NYP now comes out of it quite well, compared to other forces.

Failure to ensure Police data and systems can’t be abused 

The 2018 HMICFRS inspection of NYP (here) also reveals cause for concern: 

“The force doesn’t have the capability to monitor all IT systems and the data contained within them. As a result, there are gaps in coverage. Recent extra capacity in the professional standards integrity unit is enabling the force to develop proactive processes to look for corruption linked to abuse of position for a sexual purpose by analysing data. But this is in its initial stages. The force should take steps to make sure that data is protected and effective monitoring of technology can take place.” 

On the 28th of September 2019 I asked Chief Constable Winward and PFCC Mulligan for a press statement on vetting and use of outdated technology, which does not retain evidence of misuse of police computers and intelligence by police officers and staff, gathering information on vulnerable persons who would make suitable targets for their offending

After nearly four weeks, I received the following response under the guise of a Freedom of Information Act response:

North Yorkshire Police are currently able to audit certain*1 key policing systems, and have made plans to introduce technology to enable proactive audit and monitoring activity across all computers and systems in the coming months*2 under the Transform 2020 programme. 

I submitted a further enquiry asking:

“I would like to ask for some clarity on the information you have provided. Please can you provide further information around the word “audit”: 

    1. Does this encompass being able to trace inappropriate or unauthorised access and use of North Yorkshire Police computer systems by police officers or staff that are acting corruptly?
    1. If this facility is not currently available, when will it be implemented?”

Finally, on the 14th of November 2019, I received an answer that caused me some concern:

“The current auditing systems enable North Yorkshire Police to reactively trace inappropriate or unauthorised access and use of certain[*1] key Force policing computer systems by Police Officers or Staff that are acting corruptly. The new system being looked at will enhance this ability significantly, whilst also enabling some proactive monitoring. Although the project has been agreed, a date for implementation is not yet known  [*2], therefore this information is not currently held”. (My emphasis bold underlined).

[*1] Please note: Not “All” systems The implication being that these safeguards do not exist on all systems.
[*2] Please note: In the “coming months” has miraculously turned into “a date for implementation is not yet known”. The implication being that although NYP know this is a weakness that should be addressed, it has no plans to do so.

It therefore appears that contrary to the assurances that NYP has “made plans to introduce technology to enable proactive audit and monitoring activity across all computers and systems in the coming months under the Transform 2020 programme.” In fact the truth is “Although the project has been agreed, a date for implementation is not yet known”.

This means that any predatory police officer or member of staff can access information through the force computer system and use it to target vulnerable adults and children. A catastrophic failure of NYP information security that could leave children vulnerable, despite warnings from HMICFRS since at least 2016.

I suspect the reason for the delay in responding to my enquiry is that NYP knows this is a serious weakness and a failure of management, but do not want to admit it, or have it revealed to the public by the NYE.

PFCC Julia Mulligan, seen here with Chief Constable Lisa Winward.
Spends hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees to prosecute journalists and for the Chief Constable to
travel all over Europe on FBI alumni junkets, but will not spend on improving the security on police computers,
thereby leaving children at risk.

Conclusion

This article is a classic example of community journalists investigating policing failures that the police would prefer were left alone. Hopefully it will raise public awareness and lead to improvements.

I have no information that would lead me to believe that any NYP police officer, member of civilian staff, or contractor is involved in sexual offences against children. Nevertheless, cases of police officers being accused of abuse do exist. Recent BBC report on South Yorkshire Police here.

This has to be guarded against. However, my investigation has revealed the same failures of allocating a low priority to the prevention of child abuse by NYP and a culture of secrecy.

It appears to me that the same issues of failure of management, low prioritisation of child abuse, refusal to work with the media, failure of intelligence and refusal to prosecute any investigation that could result in any form of criticism of NYP still prevail.

NYE Appeal for information

Were you:

  • A pupil at the May Lodge National Children’s Home?
  • A pupil at Throxenby Hall?
  • At the Farndale Road Remand Home in Middlesbrough?
  • At the Aycliffe Assessment Centre in Darlington?
  • A pupil at the Stanhope Castle Approved School?

If you:

  • Suffered abuse at any of these institutions.
  • Have been the victim of a predatory police officer.
  • Have any information on the “Nude in the Nettles” mystery.

You can pass on information confidentially, have your story told anonymously, or talk to a journalist confidentially, by contacting the North Yorks Enquirer using our letters@nyenquirer.uk address.

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