A “rift” between social services and police led to a crisis in child protection and hundreds of survivors being let down.
Nottingham care home inquiry reveals 343 cases of child sexual abuse
The independent inquiry is looking at the abuse of children in the care of Nottinghamshire councilsBy Tom Parmenter, news correspondent
A generation of young people in care in Nottinghamshire were “betrayed” by a dysfunctional system that allowed the sexual abuse of vulnerable children to flourish, an inquiry has heard.
The extent of the scandal was outlined at the opening of the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings in Nottingham that revealed that 343 individuals have come forward to say they were sexually abused as children.
Despite three previous police investigations and numerous reviews, the scale of the scandal in Nottinghamshire has never been fully understood or investigated.
The inquiry heard there had been a historical “rift” between the police and social services that led to a “crisis” in child protection in the county.
One unidentified complainant said in a statement: “The approach that the councils of Nottingham have taken to the abuse is just an extension of the abuse.
“It just drags it on.”
Patrick Sadd, counsel to the Inquiry, said: “As at 2015, when this investigation was selected to form part of the national inquiry, recent police investigations had only led to one conviction for child sexual abuse in a children’s home.”
Hearings start in Nottingham this week Pic: IICSA inquiry
Since 2015 there have been a series of further criminal prosecutions in Nottinghamshire.
One of the most notorious children’s homes in Nottingham, known as Beechwood, has been singled out by the inquiry for special investigation. There were 136 allegations of sexual abuse from children there between the 1960s and the 1990s.
Yet just two instances of disciplinary action resulted from the allegations of sexual abuse.
In another case a care worker who was engaging in sexual activity with an underage girl in his care was not sacked because he may not have been aware it was wrong.
Mr Sadd told the inquiry that the following justification was given to a subsequent investigation: “He was not dismissed because in 1983 there was a lack of clear guidance given to him as the role of a house parent.”
John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, who is representing around 30 survivors, told Sky News: “It is a total betrayal, the system didn’t work for them, the institutions didn’t even co-operate and hardly talked to each other.
“It is quite astonishing how they were let down… This is institutional failure but we need to learn for the present and the future.”
The Inquiry is also examining the failure of the council to address abuse allegations from children who had been placed into foster care in Nottinghamshire.
In one case Mr Sadd said the child was just ignored: “The police viewed the incident as a foster child ‘plying her trade… rather than being harmed.'”
In January 2018 the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council councillor Kay Cutts made a full apology to those who suffered abuse in care.
She described the scandal as a “dreadful stain on the history of this council that we must neither refute nor excuse”.
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Today, approximately 1,400 children are in care in the county.
The IICSA will continue to examine the failures in Nottinghamshire for the next three weeks.