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Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel

Updated October 2020

What is the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (CSARP)?

If a victim or survivor reported allegations of child sexual offences before 5 June 2013 and the police or the CPS decided that no further action should be taken at the time, they can request that the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel reconsider the decision, if they are not satisfied that the original allegations were dealt with appropriately. CSARP is a joint enterprise between the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

What does CSARP do?

The panel will consider whether the approach taken by the police or CPS was wrong and advises whether the allegations should be reinvestigated by the police or the prosecution decision reviewed by the CPS. To do this, they will look at the information requested of and provided by the relevant police force or CPS area, to decide whether to advise that the original decision was correct or if further action should be taken.

If the decision is made to reinvestigate or review the case, it will be referred back to the police force or CPS area from where the case originated for them to decide on the action to be taken.

If the panel agrees with the original decision to take no further action, the victim or survivor will be informed by letter with specialist help and support provided or signposted. There is no appeal point beyond the panel.

Sole responsibility for taking these decisions in the panel rests with the police and CPS members. The independent representative in the panel will play an advisory role i.e. they will receive and consider the relevant information and provide views to the police and CPS members of the panel as to the decision they consider should be taken.

Since being set up, 212 eligible cases have been referred to CSARP. Of these:

  • 46 (22%) have been charged;
  • 19 (9%) are currently ‘live’ ongoing reviews or reinvestigations for which outcomes are not yet known;
  • 25 (12%) have been convicted;
  • 6 (2%) are awaiting final court outcomes.

Whilst many cases still conclude without the suspect(s) being charged, the victim(s) in each case have the benefit of knowing their case has been fully re-examined or re-investigated to current standards and that all opportunities to advance the investigation to that point have been considered. The victim(s) then receive a full explanation as to why their case could not be authorised for charges; something than in many older investigations had not occurred at the time, often due to the age of the victim.

Why was CSARP set up?

CSARP was set up in June 2013 to look again at cases that were not covered by the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) Scheme.

VRR was introduced to make it easier for victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges or to terminate all proceedings; however, the scheme only applies to decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.

Cases will be considered if:

  • The report is about an alleged sexual offence against the victim or survivor;
  • The victim or survivor is referring to a report previously made to the police about the sexual offence;
  • A decision to take no further action was taken by the police or by the CPS;
  • The alleged sexual offences was committed when the victim or survivor was under 18 years of age;
  • The alleged offender may still pose a risk;
  • The alleged offence was committed in England and Wales;
  • The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS before 5 June 2013.

It is important to note that even if the victim or survivor has previously asked the police or the CPS to look at the decision they made previously, their case will still be considered.

Cases will not be considered if:

  • The victim or survivor hasn’t previously reported the matter to the police as this will therefore be a new complaint that the police will need to investigate;
  • New evidence has come to light prompting a fresh investigation by the police;
  • The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS after 5 June 2013.

Who is on the panel?

The panel consists of a Chief Crown Prosecutor, a chief police officer, a specialist prosecutor, an experienced child abuse police investigator, and an appropriate independent representative.

How do victims and survivors refer a case to the panel?

Cases can be referred to the panel directly through a dedicated email address:

Alternatively, the victim or survivor can also bring their previous complaint back to the police force or Crown Prosecution Service.

David Lean - my experience with CSARP

A short video featuring former footballer and child sexual abuse victim, David Lean, has been created to raise awareness of CSARP and ensure victims and survivors are aware of how they can refer their case to the panel.

David, who was abused by football coach Barry Bennell in 1980, referred his case to CSARP in 2013. The panel made the decision for police to reinvestigate, which resulted in Bennell being charged.

In April 2015, Bennell pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 14, and two counts of enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for these offences.

In the video, David speaks about his experience with the panel, why he is supportive of the work they do and why he is encouraging victims and survivors to refer their case, if appropriate.

CSARP case studies

John Doherty

John Doherty repeatedly raped a 14 year-old girl over a period of months in the Coventry area. These allegations were first investigated in 1995, but upon completion of the investigation, the matter was marked no further action.

Following a referral to the panel in 2015, this matter was reviewed. The panel advised the case should be investigated further and considered for charges. In 2019, Doherty, then 76 years old and of Malin Head, Ballygorman, Ireland, was convicted of a campaign of rape against the victim over several months. He was sentenced to 19 years' imprisonment and ordered to remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

Terence Wilmer

Wilmer groomed and sexually abused two girls, one 12 years of age and the other aged under 10, in Robertsbridge and Hastings in the 1990s. This matter was first reported and investigated in 2004, but resulted in a decision to take no further action.

Following a review of the case prompted by a referral to the panel in 2015, Wilmer was charged and convicted of rape as well as several allegations of indecent assault offences. In 2017, the court sentenced Wilmer, then aged 57 years old and of Emmanuel Rd, Hastings, to 16 years' imprisonment with a further five years on extended licence. Wilmer will be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court notice.

Keith Worthington

Worthington was accused of abusing three boys in the St Helen’s area in the 1990s, with allegations surfacing in 2005. The investigation concluded with a decision to take no further action.

This case was referred to the panel in 2015, prompting the police to reinvestigate all of the allegations. This resulted in the suspect being charged with numerous sexual offences.

Worthington, then 47 years of age and of Prestwood Road, Dovecot, was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment, and ordered to remain on the Sexual Offenders’ Register for life. The court also authorised a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to remain in place indefinitely.

Further reading

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