Sex abuse cases to be reviewed

Panel to be appointed to identify patterns of failure in long-term abuse cases

Police and local government authorities are coming under scrutiny in the wake of several recent case of severe child abuse at the hands of their own parents.

The revelations, including two this week, have the social minister, Karen Hækkerup, calling for a review of the way such investigations are handled.

“These types of cases are just coming out of the woodwork right now,” Hækkerup told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

In one of the two cases that came to light this week, a 55-year-old man is accused of sexually abusing seven of his own children, as well as two others, over a 16-year period. The man, being referred to in the media as ‘DenmarkÂ’s Fritzl’ in reference to a high-profile abuse case in Austria, came under the suspicion of child welfare authorities as a possible abuser as early as 2005, but no action was taken until 2010.

“If local authorities and the police can be in contact with children for so long without finding out whatÂ’s going on, then we need to look at the system and see whatÂ’s going on,” Hækkerup said. “ThatÂ’s not acceptable, and it can be done better.”

Hækkerup has called for the establishment of a fast-working expert panel that will identify any problems in the child welfare system and make proposals by May for how they can be fixed.

The panel will also be asked to find out whether the number of abuse cases is actually on the rise or if more are being made public.

Previous cases of long-term abuse will also be reviewed in order to determine whether any individual or organisation can be faulted. By comparing cases it also hopes to determine whether a pattern of failures can be identified.

Child welfare experts praised the initiatives, but cautioned against believing that all cases of child abuse could be avoided.