Tuesday 3 March 2015

Sir Cliff again

This is in relation to an alleged assault in 1985. And apparently, there is "more than one allegation", which I would guess, means two.

Let's leave aside the way that the police got the BBC involved in coverage of the original raid, which I think was very shabby. What I'd like to discuss here is the allocation of resources.

People agree that child abuse is a terrible thing, of course it is. And even if it happened 30 years ago ... hang on.

The problem is that of gathering evidence, 30 years after the date of the the alleged crime. If you asked me where I was or what I did on 3 March 1985, I wouldn't have the foggiest idea. Maybe if I'd been in Australia giving a talk on Antivirus issues, there would be documentary evidence of that, but I doubt it - I don't have the paperwork from 30 years ago, and I doubt if the event was important enough for it to have something about it somewhere on the internet. All I would be able to swear to is "I can't remember where I was or what I was doing".

That's why there's a statute of limitations. In most European countries, this is 12 years, with a maximum of 20 years for underage victims, I won't say what the limit should be, that's something for careful discussion and consideration. I just say that there should be a limit, because under current law in the UK, you can be prosecuted for somethnig you did (or didn't do) 80 years ago.

But now lets look at allocation of resources. And that has to do with how urgent and important a case might be. So what is more urgent and important, the 1400 victims in Rotherham that have only just come to light, or the possibility that Sir Cliff Richard did something bad 30 years ago? "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse the child victims suffered", said Professor Alexis Jay in her report on Rotherham; she said that South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

And that's the problem. It's the allocation of resources. A team of police investigating an alleged 30 year old crime, cannot be investigating 1400 current crimes. Because here's what worries me. Was it just Rotherham? Or are there other similar situations that aren't being investigated because the necessary resources are pursuing 30 year old alleged offences?


  1. What about war crimes though?
    Daughter. 2

  2. That's becoming difficult. WW2 ended in 1945, 70 years ago. Someone who committed a war crime would now be 90 or more, and wouldn't look much as they did when they were 20. It's the same problem; 70 year old crimes are very difficult to prosecute. The reason why there isn't going to be a statue of limitations on war crimes, is because some of what the Nazis did is so awful, no-one would support a SoL.