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New probe into Cyril Smith claims
Sex abuse allegations involving the late politician Sir Cyril Smith are to be investigated by a second police force.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) will look into claims that the former Liberal MP for Rochdale was involved in abuse at a hostel for boys and young men in the town.
GMP will look at cases which date back to 1974 - when the force was created and any before that will be investigated by Lancashire Police, which previously covered Rochdale. The GMP force will now trawl its old, pre-computerised records to see if any complaints were made to them during the 1980s and 90s.
Prime Minister David Cameron urged witnesses to come forward to help their investigation. "I would say, particularly in light of what's happened over the last few weeks, if anyone has information, if anyone has facts, then take them to the police," he told the Commons.
Sir Cyril, who died in 2010, was elected to Parliament in 1972 and served for 20 years before retiring from politics.
He faced rumours of abuse throughout his career, with allegations being published twice, but never faced any charges. Sir Cyril was secretary of the Rochdale Hostel for Boys Association, where it is alleged, he abused vulnerable youngsters by spanking and touching them.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Following discussions between the force and our colleagues at Lancashire Police, it has been agreed that Greater Manchester Police will now investigate any allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Sir Cyril Smith that happened from 1974 onwards.
"We take all reports of sexual abuse very seriously and we have teams of specially-trained officers who can provide support and guidance if you were a victim. I can assure you that what you say will be treated in the strictest of confidence and with sensitivity.
"There has been a lot of speculation in the media about whether Greater Manchester Police investigated allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Sir Cyril Smith in the 1980s and 1990s.
"We are examining our records to see what involvement Greater Manchester Police may have had. However, we need to be clear that some of these allegations are up to 30-years-old and predate our computerised records, so it will take some time to establish what, if any, the force's involvement was."