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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report

Contents

F.9: Apologies and redress

68. Victims and survivors told us how important it was for them to receive a meaningful and genuine apology.

69. LA-A25 was sexually abused by Hosegood in the 1970s. She told us in June 2020 that she had recently received a letter of apology from Lambeth Council. She explained that it was important for her to have her experience acknowledged and to be believed.

I felt relieved, because … it gave me a sense that I was believed, after all, and they were sorry. But it isn’t this Lambeth that needs to be sorry.[1]

70. Lambeth Council’s full apology to this Inquiry, made by Ms Annie Hudson, is welcomed.[2] However, Lambeth Council was aware – from numerous reports, inspections and investigations throughout the 1980s and 1990s – of the nature of its failings and that the incidence of child sexual abuse was likely to be significantly higher than the reported numbers of complaints and convictions. It did not make any meaningful apology until relatively recently.

71. In response to those who were abused or lived in fear of abuse whilst in its care as children, Lambeth Council opened its Children’s Homes Redress Scheme in January 2018. This scheme is open to those who lived in or visited a Lambeth Council children’s home. By August 2020, there had been more than 1,600 applications to the scheme, and more than £46 million had been paid in compensation to victims and survivors.[3] We understand that Lambeth Council has extended the closing date of the scheme until 1 January 2022. The Inquiry has not examined this scheme (as explained during our preliminary hearing on 15 January 2020), although redress schemes were considered during our Accountability and Reparations investigation.[4] We note, however, that the Lambeth redress scheme has been criticised by some core participants to this investigation.[5] These criticisms included:

  • The redress scheme does not provide compensation for abuse suffered in a foster placement before a child was placed in a Lambeth Council children’s home.[6]
  • Racial abuse and loss of earnings and education are not sufficiently compensated.[7]
  • The Melting Pot has not been included in the scheme, although children in the care of Lambeth Council were placed there (and we have received evidence from some who suffered sexual abuse there).[8]
  • Confining the provision of housing assistance to the small geographical area of Lambeth significantly reduces its value to survivors of sexual abuse, some of whom may need to live elsewhere.[9]

In its closing submissions, Lambeth Council stated that it continues to deal with claims based on negligence (such as where a child was placed in care incorrectly or it failed to provide appropriate oversight of a child placed in foster care) on a case-by-case basis through the civil justice system, separately to its redress scheme.[10] It confirmed that the scheme does not apply to those abused in private or voluntary children’s homes not managed by Lambeth Council, although it had placed children in care in these establishments.[11]

72. The Inquiry recognises the devastating consequences of sexual and other forms of abuse to children in care. The potential for redress schemes to offer accountability and reparation to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse was considered in detail in the Inquiry’s Accountability and Reparations Investigation Report.[12] It has arisen in a number of other investigations and therefore any further consideration will be dealt with in the Inquiry’s final report.

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