The troubled child abuse inquiry is risking further controversy by going into prisons to ask criminals if they were molested when they were young.
Critics warn the plan could encourage inmates to make false allegations and lodge unwarranted claims for compensation.
The so-called ‘Truth Project’ is part of the £100 million inquiry which allows survivors of child sex abuse to tell their stories, without their accounts being tested, challenged or contradicted.
Officials will go into jails later this year to ask prisoners to share their experiences, in the belief that many turned to crime after their lives went off the rails when they were abused as children.
Inmates’ stories may be published anonymously in official reports on the scale of past abuse and cover-ups in Britain’s schools, children’s homes and churches.
But barrister Barbara Hewson said: ‘I think it is trawling.
‘It’s all very well to say they want to look into institutional abuse but the more they do this and encourage people, some people will start to think maybe they can go for compensation.
‘They may well be people who have a long history of dishonesty and who see this as an opportunity to portray themselves as being wronged.’