Is it Ever too Late to Complain About Historical Abuse?

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Kate Hall

Solicitor Graduate, Abuse

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Survivors of abuse who come forward to report their experiences typically undergo an emotionally demanding journey, seeking justice, and ultimately closure. This process is marked by profound vulnerability, as survivors expose their deeply personal and often painful stories, in some cases revisiting long-buried traumas.

However, when those reports do not lead to action, survivors may experience frustration, confusion, and even a renewed sense of vulnerability. Understanding the options and support mechanisms available to survivors in such situations is very important. This includes exploring legal avenues, support networks, and advocacy channels that can help survivors find the closure and justice they seek.

In the following sections, we will delve into the complexities surrounding this issue and provide guidance for survivors who have faced the disheartening situation of reporting abuse without further action. We will explore the potential reasons behind this outcome, avenues for recourse, and the importance of emotional and psychological support throughout the process.

A look at a well-publicised case

In a 2022 case of ex MP Imran Ahmad Khan, his victim, who was 15 at the time of the incident, originally reported the matter to the Police in 2008. While an official report was logged, no further action was taken because the victim did not want to make a formal complaint. However, 11 years later, in 2019, he did file an official complaint after his memories of the incident came flooding back.

In the case, which was heard at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Khan was charged with sexual assault. The jury were told how he forced the youngster to drink gin and tonic, pushed him onto a bed and asked him to watch pornography at a house in Staffordshire. It was then alleged that Mr Khan touched the boys’ feet and legs, coming close to the child’s privates as he went to sleep in a top bunkbed following a party. Khan denied sexual assault but was found guilty by a jury. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison; Mr Khan appealed that decision, but was not successful.

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What is classified as Historical Abuse?

Historical abuse, often referred to as "non-recent abuse" includes a wide range of harmful actions done to a person. These actions can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The key characteristic of historical abuse is that it occurred at some point in the past, making it distinct from current or recent incidents.

Historical abuse can manifest in various ways, ranging from a single traumatic event to a series of repeated abusive acts that transpired over an extended period. It's crucial to recognize that the impact of such abuse can be profound and enduring, affecting survivors in both visible and hidden ways.

How to report non-recent abuse

Coming forward to report abuse from a long time ago is a brave thing to do.

People report historical abuse for different reasons. Some want to make sure the person who hurt them doesn't hurt others. Others report it to find closure and move on with their life.

If you decide to report it, then you will need to call 101 and explain what happened.  They will then refer you to a specialist team.

It's completely normal to feel nervous about reporting. You might worry about what will happen next. We're here to explain the process and support you through it.

Points to Keep in Mind When Reporting Historical Abuse

Location of the Offence

The location of the abuse determines which police force handles the case. If the abuse happened outside your current area of residence, your local police may take your initial account and forward it to the relevant force.

Status of the Perpetrator

If the person who abused you has passed away, then the investigation can’t proceed. If you're unsure whetherthe perpetrator is still alive, you can still report the abuse, and the police will investigate to check if they are still alive.

What can you do if You’ve Reported Abuse to the Police but no Further Action was Taken?

The Police will fully investigate your report, and this is often done by a specialist team of officers.  Ultimately it is down to the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether they want to bring a prosecution. They need to be sure there is enough evidence.  If they decline, you can appeal using the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme. If this is still unsuccessful you can apply to a magistrate’s court to bring a private prosecution.  This is not an easy process, and we strongly recommend you speak to our specialist team of abuse solicitors if you are considering this.

You may be able to seek compensation directly from the person who abused you or from other organisations who were involved.  Our team can advise you on the best ways to do this and support you throughout the process. Sometimes these cases can be dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Are There Time Limits to Bringing an Abuse Claim?

Courts do have times limits in place for bringing compensation claims. However, where the claim is for sexual abuse, the Court does have the ability to disapply these time limits. The Court has this ability has they understand there are many reasons why survivors don’t come forward straight away.

Please don’t let this discourage you from contacting us.  We have helped many survivors of historic sexual abuse and we can help you too.

What do you Need to Bring a Successful Abuse Claim?

In claims of this nature, especially where the abuse took place some time ago, the more evidence we can obtain the more likely the claim is to be successful. This will include any previous reports of the abuse, notes in medical records and any witness evidence.

Whatever type of abuse you have suffered and whenever it happened, our dedicated team of Abuse Claim Solicitors have years of experience helping people just like you. They know it takes courage to come forward and can be with you every step of the way to support you throughout the legal process.

Whatever type of abuse you have suffered and whenever it happened, our dedicated team of Abuse Claim Solicitors have years of experience helping people just like you. They know it takes courage to come forward and can be with you every step of the way to support you throughout the legal process.


NSPCC. (2023). "Non-recent abuse." [Online] Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2023)

Family Connect. (2023). "Reporting Non-Recent Abuse or a Crime." [Online] Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2023) (2003). "Sexual Offences Act 2003." [Online] Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2023)

The Guardian. (2022). "Tories MP Imran Ahmad Khan charged with sexual assault." [Online] Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2023)

The Guardian. (2022). "Ex-MP Imran Ahmad Khan Loses Appeal Against Sexual Assault Conviction." [Online] Available at: (Accessed: October 25, 2023)

Kate Hall

Solicitor Graduate, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Kate works as a Solicitor Graduate Apprentice in our Abuse Claims Department, with a goal to qualify as a Solicitor in 2024.

After completing her education at Leeds Beckett University in 2018, Kate decided to specialise in Abuse Claims. Within this department, she has gained experience dealing with Civil Claims against various institutions including local authorities, public schools, religious institutions and charitable organisations. This includes the Manchester Homes 2 Group Action and the claims against Manchester City Council for abuse at St Anne’s School. Kate has also successfully navigated claims through the Lambeth and Manchester City Redress Schemes.

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