Dear Mr Rhodes
Thank you for your e-mail of 21 February. I am sorry for the delay in replying.In the early 1990s, the Department of Health commissioned Professor Jean La Fontaine to provide a review of the nature and extent of cases of organised abuse where there were alleged to be ritualistic elements. A summary of the main findings, The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse, was published in June 1994.
Professor La Fontaine found no independent material evidence to support the allegations of satanic child abuse and devil worship. This finding met with criticism from certain quarters. The Department received a great deal of correspondence from people who remained concerned that there was clear evidence to support the view that satanic and other ritual abuse does exist. In the light of this response, the Department, in order to ensure that all sides of the issue were explored, commissioned Dr Hale and Ms Sinason to undertake a pilot study of adult survivors of alleged organised ritual abuse.
While the Department is aware of recent media reports of clinical findings purportedly related to the research, we have yet to receive a draft of the research for review, following which we would expect to receive the finalised research report. It is only at this stage that the Department would be in a position to consider the implications of the research, if any, for policy and practice.
The recently revised inter-agency guidance on child protection, Working Together to Safeguard Children was issued in December 1999. It draws practitioners' attention to the possibility of bizarre and unusual aspects linked to the sexual abuse of children, in accordance with Jean Le Fontaine's findings. The text may be accessed via http://www.open.gov.uk/doh/quality.htm
Yours sincerely Bruce Clark Section Head - Child Protection and Domestic Violence Policy Unit
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