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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of the Nottinghamshire Councils Investigation Report

A.2: Nature and extent of allegations of sexual abuse

9. The sexual abuse of children in the care of the Councils[1] was widespread in both residential and foster care during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

10. The sexual abuse alleged in this investigation varies widely. It includes repeated rapes and other sexual assaults, related physical abuse, voyeurism and sexually inappropriate physical contact. The abuse was carried out by a range of perpetrators, including residential care staff, foster carers and their relatives, and children in care. Some allegations relate to single perpetrators, whereas others concern sexual abuse by more than one perpetrator at the same time. Several complainants make a number of allegations of sexual abuse during their time in care, including within the same placement.

11. Children in the care of the Councils have also been victims of child sexual exploitation.[2] By the mid-to-late 1990s, the County and then the City began to address this issue, including the introduction of a joint protocol with Nottinghamshire Police, a multi-agency group on sexual exploitation and a Home Office pilot project.[3] (This report does not consider child sexual exploitation in detail, as this will be addressed in a separate investigation within the Inquiry.[4])

12. In addition to evidence from complainant core participants, the Inquiry has reviewed information from police investigations, civil litigation claims, disciplinary investigations and foster care investigations. Around 350 individuals report having been sexually abused whilst in the care of the Councils from the 1960s onwards. This includes 259 accounts of sexual abuse in residential care,[5] 91 in foster care[6] and 89 accounts of harmful sexual behaviour.[7] Of the 71 complainant core participants who provided a statement to the Inquiry but were not called to give evidence, 57 make allegations of sexual abuse in residential care and 18 in foster care, and 13 give accounts of being the victims of harmful sexual behaviour by other children.[8] 

13. The true number of children who suffered sexual abuse in the care of the Councils is likely to be higher than these figures. There are multiple barriers to disclosure during childhood, many of which continue into adulthood. Additionally, there are very few remaining records from the Councils regarding their response to allegations of sexual abuse before the 1980s, and none from the police, because records have been destroyed in accordance with the record retention policies of the day. If a child did report sexual abuse at the time, it may never have been recorded. The absence of records therefore does not mean children were not being sexually abused during this period, simply that we do not have documentary evidence. 

14. In some cases, there have been convictions for sexual abuse of children in care, as well as dismissals or disciplinary action taken against staff members, deregistration of foster carers and the settling of civil claims. In others, complainants were not believed, alleged perpetrators died before allegations were reported, or children’s social care, the police or the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to take any action.


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