Please see the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Mr Angus Macpherson's statement regarding the Operation Conifer Summary Closure Report.
“Putting victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do” is one of my top priorities as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.
People who have been the victim of child sexual abuse should have the confidence to come forward and know they will be taken seriously and listened to by the police.
Today Wiltshire Police has published its report into the allegations made against the late Sir Edward Heath, the former Prime Minister.
The investigation, known as Operation Conifer, was carried out on behalf of the police service nationally.
It took place amid intense media interest.
There have been calls for the Chief Constable, Mike Veale, to resign - or for me to sack him. I consider these to be fundamentally misguided.
Mike Veale is an experienced chief constable, leading a force that has been independently assessed as one of the most effective and efficient in the country.
At various stages I have been asked to comment on this investigation. It would have been wrong for me to do so ahead of today’s publication. That is because, under the Policing Protocol, chief constables have total discretion to investigate crimes and individuals as they see fit.
It was right and proper for him to conduct this investigation with complete operational independence.
My role is governance. I am satisfied that Operation Conifer has been:
- Independently reviewed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and found to be reasonable and proportionate.
- Peer reviewed twice by a national team bringing insights and lessons learned from other child sexual abuse investigations, and it has
- Followed College of Policing guidance to the letter.
Investigating allegations of child sexual abuse is a top priority for the Government.
This investigation was carried out on behalf of 14 police forces. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has acknowledged that by agreeing to pay £1.1m towards the total cost of £1.5m.
I am pleased that the Prime Minister, Teresa May, expressed her support for the investigation in a BBC interview last week.
Quite rightly the Force has not sought to determine the guilt or innocence of Sir Edward Heath. That is not the job of the police.
I welcome the decision by IICSA, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, to request a copy of the full Operation Conifer report.
IICSA will need time to consider what it can and cannot do with the report under its terms of reference.
In my view this extraordinary case merits a timely, rigorous and fair examination of the evidence as part of IICSA’s Westminster inquiry strand.
Victims, as I said earlier, are a top priority for me. I am greatly reassured by the care and attention focused by Wiltshire Police on all those who have come forward to say they were abused.
I hope the report published today will reassure victims that allegations of sexual abuse will be taken seriously and investigated - without fear or favour.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Read Wiltshire Police’s Summary Closure Report on Operation Conifer