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Inquiry publishes report into Nottinghamshire Councils

31 July 2019

The Inquiry has published its report on the response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in the care of Nottinghamshire Councils

The Inquiry has today (31 July) published its report on the response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in the care of Nottinghamshire Councils - Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.

The report found some 350 individuals reported being sexually abused whilst in the care of the Councils from the 1960s onwards. The true number is likely to be considerably higher.

It concludes that the sexual abuse of children was widespread in both residential and foster care during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This included repeated rapes, sexual assaults and physical abuse. 

During 15 days of public hearings in 2018, the Inquiry heard from those who had been sexually abused as children whilst in the care of Nottinghamshire Councils.

The case study into Beechwood Children’s Home found that staff were threatening and violent, physical abuse was commonplace and children were frightened. Sexualised behaviour by staff was tolerated or overlooked, allowing abusers to thrive. Despite the high numbers of allegations of child sexual abuse, only two disciplinary actions were taken and these were inadequate.

From the late 1970s to 2019, 16 residential staff were convicted of sexual abuse of children in residential care, 10 foster carers were convicted of sexual abuse of their foster children and we are aware of 12 further convictions relating to the harmful sexual behaviour of children against other children in care.

The report found that the extent of sexual abuse in foster care in the seventies and eighties was compounded by poor decision-making in cases where disclosure had been made; some known perpetrators were permitted to remain as foster carers and then went on to abuse children again. 

It concludes that neither of the Councils have a satisfactory approach to addressing the issue of harmful sexual behaviour between children in care. The case study focusing on this issue found that five separate reports in five County community homes were conducted between 1988 and 1995. In one home, all children resident over a 12 month period were found to have been exposed to harmful sexual behaviour.

The report states that to the present day the Councils do not have a process for the regular reporting of child sexual abuse allegations, or the action taken in response. As a result, understanding of the scale of allegations made over a period lasting over half a century, has been limited and inconsistent. 

The Chair and Panel have concluded that neither of the Councils learned from their mistakes despite over 30 years of evidence of failure to protect children in care. 

Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the Inquiry, said: 

“For decades, children who were in the care of the Nottinghamshire Councils suffered appalling sexual and physical abuse, inflicted by those who should have nurtured and protected them. “Those responsible for overseeing the care of children failed to question the extent of sexual abuse or what action was being taken. Despite decades of evidence and many reviews showing what needed to change, neither of the Councils learnt from their mistakes, meaning that more children suffered unnecessarily. 

“We hope this report and recommendations can help ensure it never happens again.”

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