Abuse inquiry: Nottinghamshire children in care suffered despite ‘decades of evidence’

beechwood-childrens-home-nottingham
The former Beechwood care home in Mapperley. Many of the early allegations which led to the inquiry were related to this care home, which has since closed.

A wide-ranging public inquiry into the abuse of children in care has concluded victims and survivors were failed over decades because Nottinghamshire councils did not learn from mistakes or take enough action.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its report into abuse at care homes and in foster care today following two weeks of public hearings in 2018 and years of evidence gathering.

The document, released today, concludes sexual abuse of children in care in Nottinghamshire was widespread throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The 160-page report, released today, says the crimes were not stopped because people responsible for overseeing care did not properly question the extent of abuse or what action was being taken.

“For decades, children who were in the care of the Nottinghamshire Councils suffered appalling sexual and physical abuse, inflicted by those who should have nurtured and protected them,” said Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the Inquiry.

“Those responsible for overseeing the care of children failed to question the extent of sexual abuse or what action was being taken. Despite decades of evidence and many reviews showing what needed to change, neither of the Councils learnt from their mistakes, meaning that more children suffered unnecessarily.

“We hope this report and recommendations can help ensure it never happens again.”

The inquiry also says councils still do not have a process for the regular reporting of child sexual abuse allegations, or the action taken in response.

It adds: “As a result, understanding of the scale of allegations made over a period lasting over half a century, has been limited and inconsistent.”

The inquiry has been investigating how hundreds of children were were abused sexually or physically while in the care of Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils.

The crimes, dating back decades, first began to be made public in 2013 after several victims came forward, many of whom were linked to the former Beechwood Children’s Home in Mapperley. This led to 418 people coming forward with claims spanning decades, implicating 22 separate children’s homes, and 13 criminal convictions to date.

In response the Government set up the inquiry to examine how children came to be failed by the authorities.

The current leaders of both Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council have both already apologised for failing children in care and outlined changed which have been made to improve care and reporting and investigation of allegations. Some of the abuse took place when both council operated as one single authority.

City Council leader David Mellen today repeatedly the apology and said: “We need to redouble our efforts in terms of recruitment of foster carers and we need to look again at what the report is saying about our children’s homes. Our children’s homes look nothing like the situation they were 20 years ago.

“But we can’t stand here today and say we’ve done everything we need to because clearly there are still failures and we need to address those. We will take time to take in the report and address its findings.”

Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts also repeated her apology and said: “I feel very responsible for the victims and survivors and I think it’s my job now to make sure they get satisfaction.

“We are all determined to get to the bottom of this and to finally give survivors of this awful abuse the best we possibly can. I cannot apologise enough, I think it’s a terrible stain on our council’s history.”

Anyone who has a current concern about the well-being of a child is asked to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101, or the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub. There are also a range of support services for adults in Nottinghamshire.

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