Theresa May
A letter to Theresa May urges a new investigation panel to be set up Reuters

Survivors of child abuse are calling on the government to introduce a more powerful investigation body that will "compel witnesses to give evidence under oath".

The call comes after the leak of a letter from home secretary Theresa May, outlining the possibility that the current inquiry panel may be scrapped.

Dozens of people who have been victim of child abuse, as well as campaign groups, signed the letter to May, saying they would welcome a new inquiry that will hold "statutory powers" and be a "replacement of the current panel".

The aim of the body, the letter details, will be to "prevent evidence being withheld or tampered with", and they hope to introduce a "dedicated police team to take evidence alongside the inquiry and investigate and prosecute offenders".

The authors of the letter believe that the potential new body would give victims more confidence in coming forward: "It is essential that those conducting the inquiry have appropriate experience, are free from strong links to prominent establishment figures or any other potential conflict of interest and have a proven track record of promoting survivors' rights."

May told MPs that she would welcome the possibility of giving an inquiry more powers which the panel members are in full support of.

It reads: "Following the mistakes of the last six months, we consider your proposals as an opportunity to place the inquiry on to a firm footing whereby it can focus on dealing with organised and institutional abuse and cover-ups at the highest levels."

The current panel has been heavily criticised and has come under increasing scrutiny since Baroness Butler-Sloss stepped down as chair after just a week.

Butler-Sloss was inundated with calls to resign during her brief tenure because she is the sister of the late Sir Michael Havers, who was attorney general in the 80s.

May said that the situations has "not been easy" for members of the panel.