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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report

Contents

Pen portraits

LA-A2

LA-A2 was taken into the care of Lambeth Council in 1962 and placed at Shirley Oaks children’s home. In 1974, LA-A2 had made an allegation of sexual abuse against Donald Hosegood, a house father at Shirley Oaks.[1] LA-A2’s sister told the Inquiry that she had also witnessed Hosegood abusing him.[2] In 1975, LA-A2 was one of four children who were complainants at Hosegood’s trial, at which he was acquitted on all charges.

In 1977, LA-A2 was found dead in a bathroom in a home on the Shirley Oaks site. Lambeth Council did not inform the coroner that LA-A2 had alleged that he had been sexually abused by Hosegood, who had been his house father, or about his involvement in Hosegood’s criminal trial. Lambeth Council suggested that there was no indication of LA-A2 having been unhappy in the period leading up to his death.[3] As Lambeth Council has acknowledged, this was “extraordinary” and “not a true picture of what had happened to” LA-A2.[4]

LA-A2’s sister told us about the lack of support her brother received following the trial. In her view, if her brother had received some support he might still be alive.[5]

LA-A7

LA-A7 was taken into the care of Lambeth Council in the mid-1970s when he was about eight years old. Initially, he was placed with foster carers, which he described as an “awful experience”.[6] He then spent time at Shirley Oaks, where he remembered “running away”, before moving to South Vale and other children’s homes.[7]

At South Vale, LA-A7 described sexual abuse by three male members of staff. One assaulted LA-A7 in the bath and took him to his flat, where he photographed LA-A7 naked.[8] LA-A7 was also abused by his keyworker Leslie Paul after washing or when being put to bed. On one occasion, Paul took LA-A7 to his flat and had him pose for photographs, before trying to assault him. LA-A7 escaped but the police returned him to South Vale.[9]

l had often tried to report abuse to other staff members and sometimes to the police when l ran off. l would be accused of being a liar. I would tell the police l was scared to go back to South Vale, and I recall the police asking staff why l was so scared. I don’t recall anything further happening about this … I tried to explain to them that I was being abused and they told me I was lying.[10]

Paul was convicted for indecent assaults against LA-A7, who described giving evidence at the criminal trial as:

extremely hard … It felt like I was in the witness box and for a lifetime and it was a very traumatic experience. I don’t think that trial helped my mental health, forcing me to relive events that I had tried to forget.[11]

LA-A7 also explained that, because of the abuse, “my education suffered and I didn’t get any qualifications. This then affected my life afterwards and being able to get employment”.[12]

LA-A323

In the 1970s, when she was less than six years old, LA-A323 was in care in a home on the Shirley Oaks site. She said that the house mother would swear at her and tell her she was “nothing”.[13] LA-A323 was hospitalised after being thrown into a table by the house father at the home. Two weeks later, it happened again.[14] She was also locked in a cupboard.[15]

While she was at Shirley Oaks, LA-A323 was sexually abused by a male visitor who, though not a relative, was described as an “uncle” and visited Shirley Oaks at night. Like other witnesses, she said that she was so young at the time that she had no idea what was happening to her.[16]

After leaving Shirley Oaks when she was six years old, LA-A323 was also sexually abused by a man on her housing estate. She described looking out of a window while she was abused and thinking about different things. The man would give her five pence.[17] She explained that her body did not feel like it was hers for years to come.

LA-A323 received money from Lambeth Council’s redress scheme and described using this to help others:

Every smile Lambeth took from me, I have made sure I have given a smile to someone else.”[18]

LA-A327

LA-A327 came into the care of Lambeth Council in the 1970s when she was around 12 years old, having suffered physical abuse within her family, including being knocked unconscious by her mother.[19]

She spent time in several children’s homes. Her first placement was at Cumberlow Lodge, where she described life as “like hell”. LA-A327 and other children were locked in their bedroom at night, and she worried that if there was ever a fire she would die. She described being constantly subject to restraint and being placed in a room that resembled a cell in a police station. Eventually LA-A327 said that she was forced, against her will, to take tranquillisers to calm her down.[20]

One member of staff at Cumberlow Lodge made children sit on his lap, especially if they were emotional or upset. LA-A327 said that he held the children around the waist so that they could not get up. He would shake uncontrollably and then when the shaking stopped, he would let the children go. At the time, LA-A327 was 12 years old but, having had no sexual education, she did not know what he was doing. Other children would also talk about it.[21]

LA-A327 then moved to Shirley Oaks, which she described as a very harsh environment, with the house parents staying in their office or speaking amongst themselves rather than interacting with the children. If she was late home, she would not receive any food. She did not go to school. One morning after breakfast, when all the other children had gone to school, LA-A327 heard one child – around three years old – screaming. A cleaner told her that the child was being toilet trained, but LA-A327 heard the child screaming for some time before it turned into sobbing. LA-A327 said she “just knew that this kid wasn’t being potty trained”. She left after that and never went back to Shirley Oaks, returning to Cumberlow Lodge.[22]

LA-A327 also lived in the Calais Street children’s home. She described her time there as one of “real danger”. She was “raped continuously” and, as a result, she became pregnant aged 15.[23] LA-A327 and her baby moved into a council flat, but she was left to cope alone:

That was literally it. I walked out of Calais Street and went into a council flat. No help, no furniture, nothing … that was it. I was literally left to deal with it myself. No money, no nothing. Nothing I left care with no-one. I went into care, I had family. I came out of care, I hadn’t seen my family for 14 years.[24]

LA-A307

At the age of nine, LA-A307 was taken to Shirley Oaks. He described hearing other children screaming at night: “to hear it, it was just terrible”.[25] He said that physical abuse started “within two to three weeks”, being “woken up at night, my bed being stripped and I was being hit and then screamed at to stand on the stairs, with the house mother having a lot of fun doing that”.[26]

He was sexually abused twice while in the Shirley Oaks sick bay. He told two members of staff at the time – the matron and a house mother – but no action was taken.[27]

LA-A307 told us that he was asked to be involved in a play which LA-F64 (who held a senior staff role at Shirley Oaks) was organising, and would go to his house to rehearse. He recalled being photographed while being raped there, and did not ever recall returning to Shirley Oaks.[28]

LA-A147

LA-A147 was in care in Lambeth in the 1990s and 2000s. She was first accommodated by Lambeth Council when she was approximately three years old. Over 10 years, she was placed in nine care homes and with four foster carers. When she was nine years old, she told her care worker that she had been raped by a foster carer’s teenage son, but she said that no action was taken. She told us that she was also sexually abused on a frequent basis by older men whom she met outside her foster placement or care home.[29] By the age of 13, she had developed a drug addiction and was “selling herself” to fund it.[30]

I didn’t even really consider these situations to be high risk. I didn’t know what high risk was. It was just what I was doing … So instead of me getting the right support, I was just kind of struck off.[31]

LA-A147 told us about a time when a drug dealer hit her and raped her at his flat. She called the care home in a distressed state and told staff what had happened to her.[32]

LA-A147 was subjected to repeated sexual abuse and violence throughout her time in the care of Lambeth Council, which was aware of the abuse and of her drug addiction. LA-A147 said that she did speak with the police but told them that she didn’t want to proceed with formal charges.

This was quickly accepted without much question because it was easier.[33]

When asked if she was supported to make allegations against those who had abused her, she said: “I can’t say I feel like I was supported from what I remember”.[34]

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