Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse publishes damning report on sexual abuse of children in the care of Nottinghamshire councils

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Stephen Simblet and Laura Profumo, instructed by Chris Ratcliffe of Uppal Taylor Solicitors, Nottingham, represented 34 victims/survivors of sexual abuse.

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has produced its Investigation Report on Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils. Its damning conclusions show that scores of children were exposed to serious sexual abuse and failed by the institutions supposed to care for them, at every stage. 

This phase of the Inquiry concerned the institutional failures of Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council in relation to the high levels of sexual abuse of children in their care, going back many years. Sexual abuse was widespread in residential and foster care during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. 

The Inquiry focused on a number of particular case studies, including the situation at Beechwood Children’s Home, sexual abuse of children in foster care and the unsatisfactory approach of Nottinghamshire Councils to harmful sexual behaviour between children in care. 

The Inquiry has found that neither of the councils learned from their mistakes despite decades of evidence of failure to protect children in their care. The various policies and procedures produced over that time were not generally made known to staff or their implementation checked. Despite a significant number of residential care staff facing disciplinary investigations for sexual abuse, there had been no assessment of the scale of abuse, and the council chief executives had not been sufficiently proactive in protecting the children in their care. 

The Inquiry found that more needs to be done to provide support and counselling for those who have suffered while in care, and that the guarded approach of the City Council to providing apologies to sufferers of child sexual abuse had caused avoidable upset and anger. 

The Inquiry found that in Beechwood, sexualised behaviour was tolerated or overlooked and despite a high number of allegations of sexual abuse against staff, only very inadequate disciplinary action had been taken. Beechwood was not a safe environment for vulnerable children, with violent physical abuse as well as sexual abuse being commonplace. There had been several opportunities for Beechwood to be closed down, and the Inquiry found this should have happened earlier than its actual closure in 2006. 

The Inquiry found, in relation to foster care, that there had been inadequate supervision and there continues to be weakness in current practice.  Similar problems exist in relation to harmful sexual behaviour between children in care, with the Inquiry finding ongoing problems with the institutional response, particularly within the City Council. 

The Inquiry has also made criticisms of the councils in relation to their oversight of children’s social care, with councillors not being fully briefed in relation to allegations of sexual abuse. 

The Inquiry has made recommendations that the councils assess the risks posed by current and former residential staff and foster carers, and that the City Council should commission an independent evaluation of their practice concerning harmful sexual behaviour. It has called for the councils to publish their response to the recommendations within six months. 

Read the full report on the Inquiry website.

This has been reported by BBC.

Stephen Simblet and Laura Profumo are members of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests & Inquiries Team and Civil Liberties Team

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