We've launched a weekly email to keep you updated on events happening in the Welsh Assembly.
Sign up now

Urgent Question: Historical Sexual Abuse within Football in North Wales

November 30, 2016

7 speeches by…

  • Elin Jones
  • Carl Sargeant
  • Russell George
  • Llyr Huws Gruffydd

Elin Jones

Before I call the third urgent question, I would like to remind Members of the sub judice rule. If active proceedings of a criminal case or a case involving a jury are in progress, then Standing Order 13.15 prohibits discussion in this Chamber. Members need to be satisfied before speaking that they are not pursuing matters that would breach that Standing Order. I now call on Russell George to ask the third urgent question.

Carl Sargeant

I thank the Member for his question. North Wales Police issued a statement about historical sex abuse within football. They confirmed they are working with the ongoing Operation Hydrant. I would encourage members of the public who have any knowledge of abuse of children or young people to contact the police.

Russell George

Can I thank you, Cabinet Secretary, for your response? At the moment, of course, this is very much commenting on historical cases of abuse, and it’s clear today that most people involved—the majority of people involved—in football coaching are there for the right reasons, and do a great job with young people and society as a whole. I think it’s important that we say that today. I would ask the Cabinet Secretary what enquiries he has made in discussions he has held with the football governing body in Wales since the scandal first emerged two weeks ago, and what measures, investigations and support will be offered by the Government and the various football bodies in Wales to support any individuals involved, and ensure that justice is delivered.

Carl Sargeant

Thank you for your question. My officials are in contact with the Football Association of Wales and football in the community trusts to ensure action can be taken as and when required. Whilst policing is a non-devolved matter, the Welsh Government is determined to learn lessons and prevent a further repeat of any child sexual abuse, and we applaud the courage of players who’ve come forward to expose the harrowing acts committed against them and acknowledge how difficult this was for them and their families. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 will help ensure that local safeguarding partners are supported by more robust leadership and a stronger, more effective framework for multi-agency co-operation in this space.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd

I agree that it’s important that we applaud the courage of the people who speak out in these cases, and the Waterhouse inquiry demonstrated in the year 2000 that children at that time hadn’t been believed, and that people hadn’t listened to them. And what that did, of course, was to place the spotlight on advocacy services here in Wales, which are a hugely important part of the provision in this context. Since then, of course, we have seen a whole host of reports—three by Assembly committees and four by previous children’s commissioners—expressing concerns about advocacy services in Wales. But we’re now, as I know the Cabinet Secretary will agree, looking forward and hoping that the national approach to statutory advocacy services will be put in place next year. But would you recognise, however, that we haven’t had the necessary strategic leadership from successive Governments here in Wales on this? Because waiting over 10 years to reach the point that we have reached—and we’re still not in a position where this national approach is in place—is unacceptable.

Carl Sargeant

I thank the Member for his question. I have recently met with the children’s commissioner and with the WLGA and the director of social services to discuss the issue of the advocacy service. I am aware of the Assembly committee doing an inquiry into this and I have been given confidence by those authorities that they will have a service of advocacy in place by the end of June next year.