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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report

Contents

Annex 4: Recommendations proposed by core participants

A number of witnesses, including all complainant and victim core participants, were invited to provide their views about any practical recommendations to prevent child sexual abuse in the future and to improve the response to such allegations. Responses are collated below.

Proposed recommendation Proposed by
Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse
There should be a statutory duty to report suspected and actual cases of child sexual abuse; a clear and unambiguous legal requirement to report abuse and reasonable suspicion of abuse, breach of which can give rise to criminal sanctions.

LA-A7, LA-A24, LA-A25, LA-A61, LA-A103, LA-A109, LA-A115, LA-A131, LA-A136, LA-A138, LA-A139, LA-A141, LA-A142, LA-A143, LA-A144, LA-A147, LA-A154, LA-A155, LA-A156, LA-A181, LA-A184, LA-A203, LA-A221, LA-A222, Russell Specterman, LA-A271, LA-A298, LA-A299, LA-A300, LA-A302, LA-A303, LA-A304, LA-A305, LA-A306, LA-A307, LA-A308, LA-A309, LA-A310, LA-A311, LA-A312, LA-A321, LA-A322, LA-A323, LA-A324, LA-A325, LA-A326, LA-A327, LA-A330, LA-A351, LA-A352, LA-A353, LA-A354, LA-A355, LA-A449, LA-A456, LA-A457, LA-A481

The Department for Education submitted that the government would consider introducing new statutory measures regarding mandatory reporting “if the evidence from its work, and/or that of the Inquiry, strongly suggested that to do so would make children safer”.[1]

Mandatory training of elected councillors

Newly elected councillors should be given mandatory training on corporate parenting and safeguarding of children.

Councillors should also be trained in institutional racism and cultural differences.

LA-A7, LA-A24, LA-A25, LA-A181, LA-A203, Russell Specterman, LA-A271, LA-A298, LA-A299, LA-A300, LA-A302,LA-A303, LA-A304, LA-A305, LA-A306, LA-A307, LA-A308, LA-A309, LA-A310, LA-A311, LA-A312, LA-A321, LA-A322,LA-A323, LA-A324, LA-A325, LA-A326, LA-A327, LA-A330, LA-A354, LA-A457, Stephen Whaley, Dr Nigel Goldie
Regulation of social care staff
Regulation of the children’s home workforce is urgently needed for social care workers. There should be an overarching local authority regulator or national safeguarding body that is able to compel action and impose financial sanctions on local authorities which are in breach of their statutory duties towards and causing harm to children. LA-A7, LA-A24, LA-A181, LA-A203, Russell Specterman, LA-A271, LA-A298, LA-A299, LA-A300, LA-A302, LA-A303, LA-A304, LA-A305, LA-A306, LA-A307, LA-A308, LA-A309, LA-A310, LA-A311, LA-A312, LA-A321, LA-A322, LA-A323, LA-A324, LA-A325, LA-A326, LA-A327, LA-A330, LA-A457
Training of social care staff

Social workers should have proper training and qualifications.

Foster carers should have better training regarding child care in general.

LA-A299, LA-A300, LA-A330, LA-A354, LA-A327

All social care staff and foster carers should be given training on how to deal with concerns about potential abuse, disclosures of abuse, how to identify the signs of child sexual abuse and what to do to address it.

Each child should have access to abuse prevention programmes and to social workers with expertise in child sexual abuse and substance abuse.

LA-A99, LA-A103, LA-A141, LA-A143, LA-A147, LA-A300, LA-A330, LA-A308, LA-A327, LA-A103
Vetting of social care staff and foster carers
Stringent background checks should be carried out for all those people working with children, including social workers, foster carers and the individuals entering children’s homes as visitors. LA-A7, LA-A25, LA-A61, LA-A99, LA-A103, LA-A136, LA-A142, LA-A147, LA-A156, LA-A181, LA-A184, LA-A299, LA-A307, LA-A321, LA-A323, LA-A330, LA-A351, LA-A355, LA-A449, LA-A457
Background checks should be regularly updated. LA-A156, LA-A355
Monitoring of children and placements
There should be intensive monitoring of children placed in care. Children’s homes and foster placements should be subject to regular visits by independent experts. LA-A103, LA-A109, LA-A115, LA-A131, LA-A143, LA-A155, LA-A156, LA-A303, LA-A351, LA-A353, LA-A354, Russell Specterman
A child’s behaviour should be carefully observed. Systems should be put in place to record changes in behaviour and to examine whether behavioural issues, such as absconsion, are indicative of sexual or other abuse. LA-A11, LA-A99, LA-A109, LA-A131, LA-A147, LA-A299, LA-A303, LA-A307
Children’s homes should have CCTV in order to monitor and evidence any abuse that takes place in these homes. LA-A115, LA-A143, LA-A307
Social workers should be contactable at any time so that the child may have support in an emergency. LA-A302, LA-A326
Implementation of safeguarding policies
Policies and procedures should be in place to safeguard children. They must be actually implemented. LA-A25, LA-A142, LA-A147, LA-A309, LA-A457
Policies should include training for staff regarding child sexual abuse, including an action plan regarding how to investigate allegations of such abuse. LA-A139, LA-A141, LA-A143
Care planning

Children should not be kept for long periods in children’s homes.

Children should be involved in decisions about their lives and who will care for them. Specific action decisions about a child must be carried through. Foster placements should not be physically isolated.

LA-A115, LA-A155, LA-A354
There should be a reduction of multiple moves between care and foster placements. Constant moves undermine stability and any trust a child can have in the people around them. This further reduces the possibility of a child feeling able to tell anyone about abuse. Similarly, there should be limited staff turnover, which is also disruptive. LA-A115, LA-A138, LA-A147
Allocated social workers
Children in care should always have an allocated independent social worker. The social workers should work closely with the children they are assigned to so that the children can build trust and confide in them. LA-A25, LA-A103, LA-A115, LA-A271, LA-A300, LA-A307, LA-A327, LA-A353
Voice of the child and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse
The approach to children placed in care should be child-centred. The child, his or her experience and their feelings about where they are should be at the centre of institutional work around children. The child’s feelings have value; their pain matters. LA-A136, LA-A309, LA-A327, LA-A353, LA-A354, Anna Tapsell
Children in local authority care should have access to someone independent who can have independent meetings with the child. Children need someone who can act as an independent sounding board – like a nurse, or an advocate; someone the children can speak to. LA-A25, LA-A103, LA-A131, LA-A155, LA-A221, LA-A300, LA-A322, LA-A327
There should be a support network around each child and more than one avenue by which a child can make a complaint. Keeping children connected to wider family members also reduces their vulnerability. LA-A99, LA-A138, LA-A299
lf a child reports any allegations of sexual abuse, immediate investigations should be carried out with coordination and cooperation between child care authorities and the police. The alleged abuser must be stopped immediately from ongoing contact with children. LA-A61, LA-A99, LA-A155, LA-A156, LA-A302, LA-A310, LA-A323, LA-A449, LA-A457

The child should be questioned in a safe environment away from their caregivers to ensure they feel able to share.

A child should never be punished for disclosing abuse. Rather, he or she must feel they will be protected if they come forward to disclose sexual abuse.

LA-A18, LA-A99, LA-A103, LA-A144, LA-A147, LA-A154, LA-A302, LA-A308
Children should be listened to properly when abuse is alleged. Authorities are too quick to dismiss children when they speak out about their sexual abuse. Simple disbelief causes long-term psychological damage. LA-A7, LA-A30, LA-A131, LA-A138, LA-A144, LA-A154, LA-A156, LA-A303, LA-A307, LA-A309, LA-A310, LA-A323 LA-A326, LA-A449, LA-A456, LA-A457
All complaints should be effectively documented by those to whom they are reported. LA-A99, LA-A147, LA-A351
When police interview a child, someone should be present who has experienced abuse and can understand the child and ensure they are treated with respect. LA-A307
Protocols and guidelines are implemented to promote transparency within police investigations. Dr Nigel Goldie, Stephen Whaley
Counselling and other support should be provided to a child who has made an allegation of abuse. The counselling provided ought to be by an organisation or agency that has specialist expertise in working with young people who have been affected by and experienced sexual abuse. LA-A25, LA-A115, LA-A131, LA-A141, LA-A147, LA-A154, LA-A181, LA-A203, Russell Specterman, LA-A271, LA-A305, LA-A311, LA-A324, LA-A330
Support should also be provided to the victim or survivor after he or she has spoken to police or participated in a trial. LA-A61, LA-A109, LA-A369
After care support is vital. Care leavers should be provided with proper support to cover basic human necessities. At minimum, the authorities must ensure care leavers have somewhere to live and to cook. LA-A24, LA-A131, LA-A147, LA-A327
There should be a transparent child-centred complaints procedure in place that is understood by children, staff, volunteers and families. The complaints policy must outline roles and responsibilities, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints and obligations to act and report. Complaints must be taken seriously, responded to promptly and thoroughly, and reporting, privacy and employment law obligations met. Children, staff, volunteers and families should know who to talk to if they are worried or are feeling unsafe. Information should be provided in accessible, age-appropriate and meaningful formats to children and families who use the service, mindful of their diverse characteristics, cultural backgrounds and abilities. LA-A99, LA-A131, LA-A138, LA-A147, LA-A184, LA-A222, LA-A271, LA-A302, LA-A322, LA-A457
Revision of section 9 of the Children Act 1989
Section 9 of the Act restricts the powers of a court so that it may not make orders under section 8 of the Act in respect of children who are in care. Section 8 orders include contact orders, residence orders, prohibited steps orders and specific issue orders. Removing the statutory restriction set out in section 9 would reduce the discrimination between children in care and those not in care.

Hudgell Solicitors, Switalskis Solicitors, Slater and Gordon, Verisona Law, Dr Nigel Goldie, Stephen Whaley, Anna Tapsell.

Lambeth Council provided legal submissions on this point and remains neutral.

This was not supported by the Department for Education or the Ministry of Justice.

References

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