In February 2017, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer wrote to a constituent concerning abuse in the town.
His comments included this: ‘I am aware that, according to a report in October last year, Ipswich has the unfortunate accolade as being the town with the largest number of sex offenders per resident, a total of 361, living in it…’
This is also born out by the Mirror https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/towns-uk-highest-levels-sex-9137993
Ipswich, Hull and Grimsby have the highest rates of sex offenders living in the area, as numbers in England and Wales continue to rise.
There are 361 registered sex offenders in Ipswich, a rate of 308.8 per 100,000 people aged 10 and over.
The information was only brought to my attention yesterday, but it came as absolutely no surprise to me.
Ipswich was, and seemingly still is, an infamous town where children are more at risk than elsewhere.
My recollections of Ipswich in the 1960s are that it was an absolute hive of secular and non-secular abuse. I believe there was often an important overlap between the two which is also worthy of comment.
I’m sure proven De La Salle sexual abusers – like Brothers James, Solomon, and Kevin – didn’t care whether their young victims were Catholic or Protestant or Atheist. Whoever was the most vulnerable, available and would keep silent. It just happened to be Catholic children.
Although some predators normally hunt and eat zebras, and that’s their modus operandi, I’m sure they’re not averse to antelopes, too. It’s all just meat to them.
I mention this because it took me a while to realize, as I recalled my childhood experiences from fourteen to sixteen years old, that such Catholic and non-Catholic predators mixed freely and socially at parties with each other. Sharing their common interest in prey. Perhaps naively, I had previously thought that abuse was divided along strictly sectarian lines, just like everything else with religion.
This is why important Catholic laity, Catholic professionals, and Catholic lay teachers from that era are of particular interest to me. The De La Salles may have had their boarder victims already easily available ‘on tap’, and has no need to go hunting, but St Joseph’s lay teacher abusers – and there were some from that era who I’m not going to name today – had to look elsewhere for their prey.
The worst town in the whole of Britain for the sexual abuse of children.
Defining what this means in practise gets me into the territory of the Catholic laity and the Ipswich Knights of St Columba, already clearly identified as covering up abuse in my ‘The Shocking Truth’ post.
Consequently, I’ve asked Catholic Safeguarding to look into both organizations both on a local and a national level.
But the confirmation that my hometown is still the darkest town for abuse in Britain set me thinking about further implications.
Like most of us, I’ve always thought – perhaps with justification – that Catholic abuse, at least, died down around the millennium and there were significantly less Catholic abuse crimes afterwards. Statistically that’s probably true. But equally, children often keep traumatic experiences to themselves, block them out (as I did) and only acknowledge or recall them in mid-life (as I did). So it’s possible that ten years from now there could be a series of allegations that could change our perception. After all, we’re told that abuse is actually on the increase, presumably thanks to the internet.
But not where Catholic abusers are concerned? Really? Does that increase apply only to secular abusers now? Have the Catholic organizations really cleaned up their act? When and why did that happen? Especially given the intergenerational factor in organized abuse, provably passed on to the next generation. That’s another question I’ve asked Safeguarding.
We can’t simply take the word of the De La Salles that they’re the ‘good guys’ now. They forfeited that right with their crimes. That’s for others to judge now, not for them. And don’t tell me about all the supposed good they and the Knights of St Columba do today. All the wonderful work for the poor, for charity etc. So did Jimmy Savile whom the Knights admired so much that they officiated at his funeral.
It’s children at risk today that rightly take priority over ‘historic’ crimes. I fear they may still be at risk today from Catholic organisations. The precise reasons why I fear this I have also brought to Safeguarding’s attention and will elaborate on it further with them.
I would assume, rightly or wrongly, that the usual targets today are not schools and boarding schools anymore (because of the terrible publicity about them) but children abused via the internet, family victims, runaways, children bred for purpose, trafficking, institutional victims and organizational victims.
As the Catholic Church plays a key role in the last two categories that concerns me.
Personally, I’m bemused if parents who are aware of this blog and similar sources should want anything to do with them anymore. Why take a risk with your children? Whatever happened in the past doesn’t just go away with an unemotional, meaningless apology like Cardinal Nichols https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3rgeY8ZWTc.
To me, the De La Salles and other religious organizations with a history of sexual and physical abuse have to carry the shameful cross of their crimes for a long, long time to come