Officer criticises lack of evidence From The Independent, Thurs 09.08.90 A POLICE expert i

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Officer criticises lack of evidence From The Independent, Thurs 09.08.90 A POLICE expert in child abuse yesterday criticised the lack of evidence provided by groups highlighting cases of alleged ritual sexual abuse of children. Det Insp Sylvia Aston, a policy adviser on rape and child abuse to the West Midlands Police, said: "I do not know of any persons who have given any information whatsoever to the police which remotely substantiates some of the claims that they make." She particularly criticised claims that foetuses had been induced before term, sacrificed and then eaten during satanic ceremonies. Her comments reflect the general police scepticism. Insp Aston said: "A simple medical examination would at least indicate whether or not the women making these claims had in fact ever been pregnant and would provide the police with a starting point." She was attending the final day of an international conference on incest and abuse at Harrow in north-west London. However, Sue Hutchinson, founder of Safe, a helpline for victims of ritual abuse, said that such examinations would be inconclusive since a long period had usually elapsed by the time those involved disclosed, during counselling, what had happened. She added that Safe was co-operating with one police force and hoped to be able to secure forensic evidence. Several psychotherapists and psychiatrists have told the Independent privately of patients speaking of teenagers who had births induced before term. These foetuses were then sacrificed, their patients said. Insp Aston said she was worried that if claims were not supported with evidence they could damage other work on child abuse. "Those who claim to help others will discredit their own aims if they are unprepared to back them with evidence. As a police officer, I keep an open mind. I believe satanic abuse occurs on rare occasions. We have had a handful of proven cases in the past decade." She said she found it difficult to believe that a child would show no revealing signs of anxiety after the horrific abuse detailed by some alleged victims. Counsellors say that ritually abused children develop multiple personalities to block out the abuse. They may appear normal unless unintentionally triggered. Many have been unable to recall experiences until they had undergone lengthy psychotherapy. The patients describe bodies being destroyed by acid or buried in existing graves.

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