Culture of cover-up saw hundreds of children abused - My Uganda Updates
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Culture of cover-up saw hundreds of children abused

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse strongly criticised the south London council for allowing decades of abuse in five homes.

It said abusers were able to to infiltrate homes and the foster system.

Lambeth Council has made an unreserved apology to the victims of the abuse.

The inquiry into the council, held in the summer of 2020, examined five homes – Angell Road, South Vale Assessment Centre, the Shirley Oaks complex, Ivy House and Monkton Street – dating back to the 1960s

The Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report said: “With some exceptions, they [Lambeth Council staff] treated children in care as if they were worthless.

“As a consequence, individuals who posed a risk to children were able to infiltrate children’s homes and foster care, with devastating, life-long consequences for their victims.”

Of the 705 complaints made by former residents across three such facilities, only one senior member was ever disciplined, the report said.

The inquiry’s chair, Prof Alexis Jay wrote: “These children became pawns in a toxic power game within Lambeth Council and between the council and central government.”

The IICSA is calling on the Metropolitan Police to consider a criminal investigation into why allegations of sexual abuse made by a boy, later found dead at the Shirley Oaks care home, were not passed on to the coroner by Lambeth Council in 1977.

Shirley Oaks and South Vale were found to have been “brutal places where violence and sexual assault were allowed to flourish”.

Another care home, Angell Road, “systematically exposed children (including those under the age of five years) to sexual abuse,” the report said.

The former Shirley Oaks site in Croydon

The council received allegations of abuse, involving at least 529 residents, against 177 members of staff connected with Shirley Oaks, which closed in 1983.

Children spent time with “social aunts” or “social uncles”, volunteers who worked with children without proper vetting.

One such volunteer, Geoffrey Clarke, stayed at Shirley Oaks with regular and unimpeded access to children there from the early 1970s.

He was convicted of sexually assaulting three children in 1998, but Lambeth Council is now aware of at least 40 people who have made allegations against him.

Clarke was charged with numerous abuse offences as part of Operation Middleton, one of five police investigations into child sexual abuse linked to Lambeth Council from 1992 to the present date. Clarke took his own life before his trial.

The inquiry criticises the Metropolitan Police for its failures to follow up evidence that may have led to the identification of further offending.

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