Greater Manchester Police has now assumed overall command of the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse made against the late Sir Cyril Smith.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police have been working very closely with colleagues at Lancashire Police over the past few weeks to pull together the precise chronology of all previous investigations carried out into Smith's alleged activities. It has taken some time for the exact details to be confirmed due to the passage of time since the original allegations were made in the late 1960s.
The Force is now publicly acknowledging that young boys were victims of physical and sexual abuse committed by Smith.
Three separate files regarding Sir Cyril Smith's actions were passed to first the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) although on each occasion no prosecution was pursued.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said: "This has been a very complex inquiry and I hope people understand why it has taken some time before we were in a position to comment publicly.
"It was very important that both ourselves and Lancashire Police examined all our records very carefully so we could be certain what involvement we had in investigating allegations of sexual and physical abuse made against such a high-profile figure as Smith.
"We are now in a position to say that on three separate occasions, files were passed to first the DPP and then the CPS containing details of abuse committed by Smith, but on each occasion no prosecution was pursued.
"Having now reviewed those decisions, we believe that if the same evidence was presented to the CPS today there would have been a very realistic prospect that Smith would have been charged with a number of indecent assaults, and that the case would have been brought to trial.
"Clearly that is a bold statement to make but it is absolutely important for those victims who were abused by Smith that we publicly acknowledge the suffering they endured. Although, Smith cannot be charged or convicted posthumously, from the overwhelming evidence we have it is right and proper we should publicly recognise that young boys were sexually and physically abused and we will offer them as much support as they need should they wish to speak to us."
A thorough investigation was carried out by Lancashire Police in the late 1960s into Sir Cyril Smith's actions at the Cambridge House Hostel, a privately-run care home in Rochdale. The investigating officer presented details of allegations made by eight youths to the DPP, and concluded Smith had abused his position to indecently assault young boys. The DPP recommended no prosecution be pursued.
In 1998 and 1999, Greater Manchester Police passed two separate files to the CPS about Smith's activities at Cambridge House, but on both occasions no further action was recommended.
Greater Manchester Police also investigated Smith's involvement with the Knowl View care home in Rochdale, but during this investigation no allegations of sexual abuse were made against Sir Cyril Smith.
Since the allegations have resurfaced in the media in recent weeks, two people have come forward to report historic abuse by Smith, and both are being investigated by Greater Manchester Police.
The Force is continuing to encourage anyone who was a victim to come forward.
"We need to be both realistic and frank that as Smith is no longer alive, we will not be able to bring any criminal prosecution against him," ACC Heywood said.
"We have now taken overall command of this investigation so there is no confusion whatsoever among the public: if you have a complaint, please report it to Greater Manchester Police. I would stress that if you do want to speak to someone, your information will be treated with the appropriate sensitivity and in total confidence
"If we receive any evidence that anyone was complicit in the abuse that is still alive today, we will of course investigate that thoroughly.
"Lastly, I want to add my sympathies to anyone who was a victim of sexual or physical abuse by Sir Cyril Smith. Having reviewed the full history of this case, I am satisfied that numerous attempts were made to expose his activities but for various reasons this did not happen. That will be of little comfort to the people who were brave enough to recall their traumatic experiences, but will never see justice done in court. However, I hope that by publicly acknowledging what happened 50 years ago it will give those people some sense of justice."
Anyone who does wish to speak to police can call Greater Manchester Police on 101, the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing email@example.com or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
On 11 March 1970, a file was submitted to the then Director of Public Prosecutions following a thorough investigation in 1969 by Lancashire Police, which detailed allegations from eight young people at Cambridge House Hostel about indecent assaults committed by Sir Cyril Smith.
Lancashire Police recommended Smith be prosecuted, and concluded: "It seems impossible to excuse his conduct. Over a considerable period of time, whilst sheltering behind a veneer of respectability, he has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys to whom he had a special responsibility. Prima facie, he appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault."
On 19 March 1970, the DPP recommended no further action be taken.
In February 1998, another Force were conducting a review of care homes in their area and referred a complaint to GMP that was made by one of the original complainants of the 1969 inquiry who was unhappy with the result. This complaint was recorded and investigated by GMP as part of a wider investigation into care homes in Greater Manchester, and a file of evidence was submitted to the CPS for a review.
In June 1998 GMP was advised no further action would be taken.
In March 1999, a second file was sent to the CPS by GMP following two further complaints that were made about Smith's actions at Cambridge House Hostel between 1962-1965. Again, no further action was recommended by the CPS.