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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report


I.2: Regulatory framework

3. The oversight of children’s homes operated at a number of levels, both internal and external. The obligation to visit and inspect was regulated by statute and developed over time.

3.1. The Administration of Children’s Homes Regulations 1951 required monthly visits to children’s homes by members or officers. The visitor was required to “satisfy himself whether the home is conducted in the interests of the well-being of the children and shall report to the administering authority upon his visit”.[1]

3.2. Under the Community Homes Regulations 1972, local authorities were required to arrange visits at least once a month by such persons as they considered appropriate, and for written reports to be produced on the conduct of the home.[2] The 1972 Regulations were replaced by the Children’s Homes Regulations 1991. These similarly required monthly visits, with the official guidance stating that these should be unannounced and that, in the case of local authorities’ reports, should generally be “presented to an appropriate committee of members of the authority”.[3]

3.3. In April 1985, the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) was established. It formed part of the Department of Health and its role was to inspect, monitor and advise local authorities with social care responsibilities.

3.4. From 1991, children’s homes came within the remit of internal inspection units. These were instigated by the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990, and required local authorities to establish internal inspection units to oversee adult and subsequently child residential care services.[4]

3.5. In 2004, the SSI was replaced by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI). In 2007, the CSCI was in turn replaced by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).[5] In addition to its role of inspecting education and skills, Ofsted had powers under the Care Standards Act 2000 to inspect residential care, including children’s homes and fostering agencies.

3.6. Lambeth Council had a duty to ensure that inspections of children’s homes took place on a regular basis.[6] By its own admission, Lambeth Council failed to comply with its own policies or statutory guidance regarding visits.[7]

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