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Institutional complaints

Children living in boarding schools or care homes share rumours and frequently malign staff. Perceived favouritism may give rise to sexual connotations and before long ‘everybody knows’ that that a particular member of staff has an evil eye for a pupil though there may be no evidence of this at all. In some cases there may be substance to rumour, but the idle belief in such conduct may also be a potent source of false allegations, particularly in a historical context.

When police conduct retrospective investigations into schools and care homes, old rumours may cement into concrete allegations with the same person being accused by multiple complainants.

Suspect names may already be in circulation through individual groups in contact, through media publicity or the internet.

Compensation may be a strong incentive, with mass civil claims bundled against the authorities running the home or school.

Claims of abuse also fit in with the trauma theories. Many ex-care home residents have had a damaged childhood prior to being in care and may go on to having difficult adult lives, including alcohol, drugs and criminal offences. To attribute these problems to institutional abuse where there is a potentially significant financial reward may be an easy source of temptation.