The aim was to study the outcome of criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse made by 160 children assessed over a two year period in a specialist paediatric unit in the North of England. In all, 141 of the 160 children (88%) were female, and 99 (62%) were aged under 12 years. There were 145 males and nine females named by children in allegations of sexual abuse. Fathers formed the largest single group of alleged male perpetrators (56/176). None of the nine alleged female abusers was prosecuted. Of the 145 males, 57 reached trial; 49 were convicted, an 86% conviction rate of those sent to trial and a rate of proven sexual offence (including cautions) of 44% (54/124) among men originally interviewed by the police. Twenty five per cent of children (17/68) who could have testified did so, most giving evidence against someone who was known to them. Pragmatic selection of cases for prosecution resulted in an outcome highly vindicating of the decision to prosecute. The possible effects of this process are discussed.
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