Abused children ‘failed’ by social services

By AlexBritton  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

SOCIAL services missed several opportunities to prevent three children being raped and sexually abused – because they didn’t believe them when they asked for help, a report has found.
Robert Oldham and Rita Oldham, of Greendale Crescent, Clipstone, were sent to prison last February for a total of 26 years.
And a serious case review, published on Thursday, March 6, found authorities missed opportunities to intervene and did not believe the children when allegations were made.
The report said that “several” disclosures and allegations were made against the Oldhams and police investigated seven times between 1997 and 2012.

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But the report said professionals “did not hear and understand what the children were saying to them” and that there was a “willingness” to disbelieve the allegations.
Chris Few, Independent Chairman of Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) said: “The review identified that in the nine-year period covered by the review, whilst there was some good practice, there was an overall failure to protect these children.”
Referring to the current state of the children, the report said: “It is clear that they are in an emotionally and physically difficult place as they continue to struggle to deal with the impact of such long term abuse.”
It also adds there were instances where the children made allegations and then withdrew them, without the reasons for the retractions being explored.
It said: “There is repeated evidence that the children were not always listened to and that they were more likely to be believed when they retracted allegations than when they made them.”
Robert Oldham pleaded guilty to 16 offences including rape and indecent assault, and was jailed for 20 years.
Rita admitted rape, indecent assault and willfully neglecting and exposing a child to assault and ill-treatment. She was given six years.
Nottingham City Council’s Corporate Director for Children and Families, Alison Michalska, said: “There have been many improvements in practice since this case to ensure that professionals are more knowledgeable about female sexual abuse perpetrators and are more focused on and skilled at listening to and understanding what children may be trying to tell them when physical and sexual abuse has taken place.”
Steve Edwards, service director for children’s social care at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “While this situation was complex, the agencies involved, including Nottinghamshire Children’s Social Care, let these children down.
“There were a number of opportunities that could have been taken to protect the children and I am very sorry that more was not done to make them safe.
“I do not want to make any excuses for these failures; we could and should have done more to protect these children, particularly, listening to them and believing them.
“I have met with the victims in this case and have personally apologised to them.”
He added that many of the issues identified in the report had been dealt with through training and practice.
He said: “We do the best we can to keep children as safe as they can be, but, in this case, we acknowledge that these children were failed.”
For more stories about Notts County Council, click here

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