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Stableford | 22:18 Thu 28th Apr 2022 | Law
5 Answers
In private conversation with a work colleague, he confided in me that his wife had been sexually abused by a paedophile (her grandfather) many years ago. She is estranged from him, but the matter has never been reported to the police, nor does she wish it to be. The dilemma I have is that I happen to know the identity of this person (now an old man) and I am wrestling with the fact I now know the identity of a paedophile but the chances of him ever being brought to justice are extremely remote, so far as I can see, and I am only going on the hearsay of a colleague. Do I have any legal obligations to take the matter further, and what can I do, if anything, to put the matter where it belongs?


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//Do I have any legal obligations to take the matter further,//

No, you don't.

//...what can I do, if anything, to put the matter where it belongs?//

Nothing. You have no evidence to offer to show that any offence took place and without the co-operation of the alleged victim, neither does anybody else.
Using estimates from the Office of National Statistics, about four million adults in the UK suffered some form of sexual abuse during their childhoods.

The police and social services aren't going to be at all interested in third party information about offences allegedly carried out against just one of those four million people (especially where that person doesn't want to give evidence against an alleged offender anyway) unless there's clearly an ongoing risk to others.
They would be interested if the third party were another agency such as social services for example but you heard it only second-hand.

If the police were to contact the alleged victim but she were unwilling to co-operate, that would create difficulties between the man and his wife and the man and you for breaking confidences.
You do nothing, Stableford. If the abused person has reasons for not reporting it you must respect that.
She may know, as I have experienced, what will happen if she considers reporting him. You don't.
Question Author
Thankyou to all of your for your thoughtful, reasoned and helpful responses. I wanted to offer some reassurance and give some friendly help to my colleague but was a little freaked out when he blurted the persons' name out, being someone I have known most of my life. I will not be taking it further, except to say, that if he wishes to talk about it with me again, he may be better advised to get legal or police advice, although both are unlikely to be able to assist, in any case. I had found it a hard one to reconcile with my own conscience, as would hate to think that other potential victims may be holding back and that it seems this man is likely to get away scot-free. But I suppose it has to be weighed up against the realistic fact that I don't know enough (and certainly don't want to know anymore!)about the alleged offences, in any case. Thanks again all, for your responses.

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