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The huge publicity in recent times of formerly hidden sexual and physical child abuse and encouragement for people to report such abuse has given rise to an avalanche of reports.

It is now time to consider whether some of the allegations may be false and whether some innocent people are being wrongly punished. Human fallibility means that it is always possible for some offenders go free and for some innocent people to be unjustly treated.  The question is whether the current balance is appropriate.

Allegations of decades-old abuse of children raise particular difficulties. Often there is no physical evidence and no corroboration. This important issue is addressed in a recent book edited by Dr Ros Burnett, a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford.

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