My first reaction on seeing this appeal was that it could well be yet another forgery – I know that many of you were of the same opinion. Such is the level of suspicion and paranoia that the events of the past year have engendered, since that night exactly one year ago today, when television executives decided that child abuse was a suitable subject to fill the gap between lucrative advertisements rather than a profoundly serious matter for the Police to investigate.
I have checked it out throughly, and I am totally satisfied that it is genuine. E-mails have been sent to the address given and replies received from genuine police officers. The telephone number given in the original appeal has been checked out. Further, enquiries were made amongst retired senior officers from Surrey Police force – and Inspector Matt Durkin will be relieved to know that he is ‘highly thought of’ as an ‘honest and diligent investigative policeman’. I was even given a different number which enabled me to speak to Inspector Durkin himself. Apologies Inspector Durkin for our lurking doubt, but the media have frequently told us (or been told themselves) that newly minted police constables, fresh out the box, have been in charge of child abuse investigations in the past…people need to be sure who they are talking to.
I realise that this still only means that it is I who is vouching for its authenticity – if you have any doubts at all, and you are entitled to them, then make contact via your local police station or via Kate Roach at Barnardo’s if you were a Duncroft girl.
Please, please, do make contact with Inspector Durkin by whichever route you feel comfortable with, if you have any information whatsoever which can throw light on events which may have taken place in Duncroft or were connected with Duncroft 40 years ago, whether you were a Duncroft girl or not. If you are aware of anyone who does not have internet access – then print this page and post it to them.
Now I, (and others!) took him to task for the wording of this appeal; the wording suggested that he was only interested in hearing from any ‘former pupil who might have been a victim or witness to abuse’. He assures me that he wishes to ‘investigate all aspects’ of that period when Jimmy Savile visited Duncroft – and that includes knowledge of any subsequent events that have made so many of you reluctant to come forward.
I have not, I would not, I will never, break your many confidences – you need to step forward now of your own accord. Please don’t e-mail me – I shall not be here and it is no longer appropriate. There is now a senior police officer and supporting officers currently investigating the events at Duncroft and you need to support them – for everybody’s sake.
I totally understand how difficult it is – the media are under the impression that the only people who find it difficult to speak out are those who believe they may have been subjected to child abuse.
I would say that the ‘Savile affair’ and subsequent press coverage has reaped many hundreds of victims, not only of child abuse – in some cases, victims of traumas that have been genuinely life threatening, and life ending.
I don’t mean only those ‘celebrities’ who have seen their lives and reputations sent up in flames by press coverage of their arrest or subsequent charges even when cleared – but also those who have been the subject of endless unfounded speculation and innuendo on the Internet.
I don’t mean only those members of Savile’s extended family, who, utterly innocent and blameless, have seen their good names and lives torn apart by the media’s desire for yet another story with the word ‘Savile’ in it.
I don’t mean only the charities denied funding they had believed would support their future plans because of legal action for compensation.
I don’t mean only the BBC employees who lost their jobs in the shambolic response to the ‘spiking’ of the original ‘Newsnight’ programme.
I do mean, specifically, the many girls who passed through Duncroft’s portals in the 60s when they were subject to court ordered ‘care and protection’ orders, the 70s when MIND took over the educational facilities to provide a community home and education for young girls with mental health problems now required to have a full time education up to age 16, and the 80s when it became a Barnardo’s home with educational facilities.
For many of you (‘us’ even) Duncroft represented a chance to put behind us the demons of an unhappy childhood and have a fresh stab at life. So many of you have successfully done that. You have become fine upstanding members of your communities, wives, mothers, grand-mothers. Some of you have middle aged children who have no idea that they may once have had earlier siblings of whom they have no knowledge – and it is bloody hard to admit to a partner or middle aged child that you have harboured secrets all these years, that you have been less than honest. I do understand the secret fears that have kept you awake at night wondering if your carefully constructed new life is about to come tumbling down round your ears – it isn’t!
What you are being asked to do is talk to Inspector Durkin, tell him what you know, instead of telling me. If you believe you were abused, he needs to know, not a television company.
He needs to know of the letters some of you received, purporting to come from ‘Surrey Police’ – but which didn’t. He needs to know of the fake identities purporting to be of staff you knew and trusted, but which you belatedly learnt were false and you had unwittingly confided details of your new life to some anonymous internet persona. He needs to know the truth of the memory sticks containing databases of your details that were circulating. He needs to know of the bullying and coercion that has occurred, of the betrayal of trust that has left some of you at the mercy of members of the press unhelpfully armed with all your personal details.
He needs to understand that the word ‘distress’ in his appeal doesn’t even begin to cover the upheaval in 50 and 60 year old lives to be suddenly handed a file from a charity you may not have realised you even had a relationship with, containing family secrets you had no idea existed, or letters that were withheld from you at the time, of relationships with siblings broken forever, of misplaced trust – if only you had known the truth. The entire affair has been utterly unfair on all of you. Kate Roach has done a fantastic job – but I don’t think anyone who hasn’t had the experience many of you have had, of having past lives dumped back on you, 40 and 50 years too late to put right, can truly understand that the word ‘distress’ is hopelessly inadequate.
He needs to understand the pressures that many of you have been under to either say, or not say, certain things – for that is all part of a full investigation of ‘all aspects of that period when Jimmy Savile visited Duncroft’. You need to be heard now.
It is time for truth and honesty to elbow internet speculation and media careers based on shoddy journalism off centre stage.
Be brave! Talk to Inspector Durkin.
What follows is from Inspector Durkin:
Our ref: Op Outreach
Dear Former Duncroft pupils
I apologise that this letter has not appeared on this forum until now.
“Anna Raccoon” has kindly agreed to allow us to post this letter on her site.
I am posting this letter on the forum on behalf of Surrey Police and Barnardo’s as we are trying to trace all pupils who were at Duncroft School for Girls, Staines in the 1970’s.
Surrey Police and Barnardo’s are working together in order to find out what happened at Duncroft during the 1970’s and to offer support to any former pupil who might have been a victim or witness to abuse. Surrey Police are continuing to investigate this period when Jimmy Savile was visiting to establish as complete a picture as possible.
If you are a former pupil I would like to give you the opportunity to make contact with the Police or Barnardo’s and describe your experiences there. It is important to stress that it is not the intention of the police or Barnardo’s to cause you any distress by making contact. Please be assured that the welfare of victims is the primary concern of both Surrey Police and Barnardo’s. This is a search for the truth and you will be believed.
If you feel that you have some information that you wish to tell police please contact us on any of the below methods:-
By email:- firstname.lastname@example.org
We request that you provide your name at the time you attended Duncroft, together with any name you may be using now. Your date of birth and current contact details are also required. This will assist us in dealing with any information we receive.
Alternatively, you may wish to contact Barnardo’s. Making Connections is the part of Barnardo’s which manages the archive of personal child care records, and provides a comprehensive access to records service to all adults who were formally in the care of, or adopted through the organisation. Barnardo’s takes all allegations of abuse very seriously and the Making Connections team will provide you with support following any disclosure of abuse.
Barnardo’s Making Connections team can be contacted on 0208 498 7536; email@example.com or by writing to Making Connections, Barnardo’s Head Office, Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex IG6 1QG.
Support is available for those who suffered abuse whilst a child and in care and we would encourage you to contact the below agencies if you feel this support would be beneficial to you.
NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children):-
0808 800 5000
NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood):-
0800 085 3330 – from landline or Virgin, Orange or 3 Mobile
0808 801 0331 from O2, Vodafone and T Mobile
Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, Surrey Police