Introduction by the Author
Revised Joint Enquiry Report
The revised Joint Enquiry Report is now a historical document, but is still relevant.
It was Nottinghamshire Social Services Department which imported the concept of satanic ritual abuse from the USA in the UK. It was staff of the Department who helped to found RAINS (Ritual Abuse Information and Network and Support). The same staff ignored the Report's findings and continued to promulgate the idea of ritual abuse by means of conferences, articles in the social work professional journals, TV appearances and an advisory telephone service. It was the Nottingham experience that became the foundation stone for a widespread belief by professionals in ritual satanic abuse and to this day Nottingham is still quoted as a proven case - which it most definitely was not.
Today RAINS has a membership of around 200 and a recent survey by the British Psychological Society revealed that 97 percent of accredited psychologists who responded believed that clients' reports of satanic ritual abuse may have been accurate.
Excepts from the original Joint Enquiry Report were leaked to Central TV and a copy was demanded by Kenneth Clarke, Health Secretary and local MP. In response, the then Director of Nottinghamshire Social Services, David White, called a meeting on the 2nd April 1990 at which he stated that he wanted a shortened version "that would be available for public circulation" in order that "practice issues could be addressed." It was emphasised that the Revised Version must retain all the relevant evidence, conclusions and recommendations.
I agreed to write this report in consultation with my colleagues.
The Revised Report was made available to the Social Services Inspectorate and to the Government but was then suppressed. It was never made available to the Nottinghamshire Social Services staff and the Director refused to allow any information to be given to other Social Services Departments, despite the fact that his own staff, who were protagonists of the concept of ritual abuse, were still providing and "expert" advisory service. The Report was, however, widely leaked to the media.
The Report's conclusions and recommendations were ignored.
The Report had warned that if the presentations of ritual abuse information were not stopped there was the likelihood of a "witch-hunt" developing which would result in grave injustice to children and their abuse by professional staff. Tragically, our prediction proved to be well-founded with the subsequent misery involving children and parents in Rochdale, the Orkney Islands and Ayr.
J B Gwatkin
16 May 1997
Why we decided to publish this document
The full text of the accompanying report is being made publicly available for the first time - seven years late - with a new explanatory introduction by one of the authors who edited it into this version in 1990.
Readers will now be in a position to check independently the original context of the many leaks, references and occasional misrepresentation of what was (and remains) a very important document.
Since the early 1980's the protection of children from sexual crime and exploitation has become a widely-publicised and emotive issue in most Western societies. As welfare and criminal justice agencies began to devote growing attention and resources, the investigatory net gradually widened from the family and extended family to private and state institutions.
The latest development in this linked chain of events is the frequently-voiced suspicion that organised networks are responsible for both previously concealed and known crimes against children.
The beginnings of this complex process can be traced back to the United States in 1983. This soon led to child protection workers claiming that children were being victimised by networks of satanists. Their allegations revived age-old social anxieties that devil worship and ritual child sacrifice were rife in America. Before long, these same fears began to spread to Europe.
One of the first criminal cases in England to raise similar allegations occurred in 1988 in the East Midlands city of Nottingham. "The Broxtowe Case" took its name from the Nottingham district where many of the "T. family", central to the investigation, lived. Notorious as Britain's biggest ever prosecution of multi- generational incest, the Broxtowe Case began to acquire 'satanic' network dimensions.
This development caused a serious rift between the social workers and police involved.
In summer 1989, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire and the Director of Social Services, Nottinghamshire, agreed to set up a Joint Enquiry Team (JET) to re-investigate the evidence supporting the claims of an organised satanic network at large.
The team's full report was completed and submitted at the end of 1989. It named all the children, adults, social workers, police officers and external experts involved in the original investigation and other cases arising from it. For legal reasons, this initial draft version was unpublishable. However, one team member was asked to produce a shorter, revised version, which could be distributed for the general information of social worker colleagues and the police.
Then, in an unexpected U-turn, an internal decision was made not to publish the report. Its authors were officially banned from talking about their investigation or publicising their findings and recommendations.
The social workers directly involved in the Broxtowe case, who took a contrary view of it to that arrived at by the Joint Enquiry Team, freely promoted their opinions through the media and in meetings, seminars and conferences throughout the country.
Between 1990 and 1991 a rash of "ritual satanic abuse" cases occurred across Britain - from Rochdale to the Orkneys. In spite of dozens of children being taken into care and their parents being accused of bizarre crimes, nobody was convicted of any crime related to satanism. The media response eventually settled into scepticism and this type of case appeared to subside when the Government appointed Professor Jean La Fontaine to conduct a nationwide enquiry. Her findings, published in 1994, underscored those of the JET report.
Yet the controversy has not gone away; it has taken on new dimensions. Similar methods to those analysed in the JET report for uncovering alleged organised ritual abuse networks continue to be used, resulting in a number of questionable prosecutions.
The JET report was written at the crossroads of investigations into organised sex crime. It has remained unpublished until this day.
Concern about child safety is now a top political priority. Questions about the reliability of some methods used to obtain adult and child testimony remain unresolved.
The three journalists who have made the JET report available have taken this step in the hope that future debate will be open and fully informed. In the first instance, it is important to allow the Report and its findings to speak for themselves, without external commentary or critiques.
Apart from further concealing the identity of the children, the text is unmodified.
Nick Anning, David Hebditch and Margaret Jervis