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Allegations of historical child abuse in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottinghamshire Police are looking into allegations of child abuse in Nottingham children's homes going back to the 1950s.

Children's homes should be a place of safety, and harm of any kind is a dreadful and damaging abuse of duty and trust which we take extremely seriously.

The City Council will not shy away from these historical allegations and, with the County Council and Police, is committed to bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring professional standards are upheld.

The councils are also the subject of an investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, with hearings getting underway from October 1. It will look into sexual abuse that happened to children in the care of the councils in the past, and how the council has responded to this.

What if I'm affected by abuse?

We understand how difficult it is for abuse survivors to come forward and would assure them they would be listened to, taken seriously and action taken wherever possible. The City Council always encourages anybody aware of or affected by abuse, current or historical, to come forward and speak to us on 0115 876 4800 or the Police by calling 101. All calls will be treated with absolute confidentiality. 

There will be opportunities to provide evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. For more information go to the Inquiry website here: 

Historical abuse

Background

  • Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire Police are looking into allegations of child abuse in children's homes going back to the 1940s
  • In 2010 five individuals lodged civil claims in respect of allegations of abuse at Beechwood Community Home, Woodborough Road, Mapperley (a former approved school, observation and assessment centre, remand home, and latterly a community home). Beechwood closed in 2006. The allegations were subject to a joint investigation by the City Council and Nottinghamshire Police. The Council commissioned an independent investigation by the NSPCC
  • In 2011 a former resident made allegations of abuse relating to their time at Beechwood in the 1980s. At this stage Nottinghamshire Police launched Operation Daybreak to investigate all allegations in respect of Beechwood and related matters
  • Operation Daybreak, to date, involves allegations ranging from emotional, physical and sexual harm between the 1950s and 2000, with 110 allegations to the Police and 101 civil claims

The Police Investigation

Operation Daybreak involves allegations ranging from emotional, physical and sexual harm between the 1950s and 2000, with more than 100 allegations to the Police. A significant number of civil claims have also been received by Nottinghamshire County Council (and the City Council).

Operations Xeres was launched by Nottinghamshire Police in early 2015 looking at similar allegations in the north of the county dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Operation Daybreak and Operation Xeres are now being managed by the police under the umbrella of Operation Equinox.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse announced on November 27 2015 the first phase of investigations into the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. It was announced that Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils would be one of the Inquiry's first 12 investigations.

The public hearing for the Notts Councils investigation has now been scheduled to begin on 1 October 2018 for up to three weeks. The hearing will be split into two parts with a break of one week in the week commencing 15 October 2018.

We understand that the hearings being underway may cause stress for some, and may also prompt people to come forward to voice their own experiences or those of a loved one for the first time.

There are a range of local support services which people can access, as well as through IICSA.

The Council is committed to fully supporting the principles and aims of the Inquiry and will continue to cooperate fully.

See the IICSA announcement and supporting documents here: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse investigations. There is further information on the focus, scope and approach of the Inquiry's Nottingham investigation here: IICSA investigation into Notts councils.

There are a range of local support service swhich people can access, as well as through IICSA. Survivors can also engage with IICSA's Truth Project

Apology

Nottingham City Council Chief Executive Ian Curryer said: “We have apologised in private to individuals, and have always said we would apologise publicly at a time where there was substantive evidence to show this would be appropriate and not a hollow gesture. In preparing for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, information has come to light that shows instances when the standard of child care fell seriously below what we would now demand and what children in the council’s care should have been able to expect.

“It is now clear that on inheriting the responsibility for children’s services from the County Council twenty years ago, there should have been swifter and more robust action taken to address the issues which began to emerge about the way some children’s homes were run and the impact this was having on children.  Changes we made to children’s residential care did not have an immediate impact, but over the last decade we have overseen consistently improved standards including much smaller, family home-like units.

“We now wish to state publicly that we are deeply sorry and offer our heartfelt sympathy to survivors who should never have had to suffer whilst in our care. We apologise unreservedly for any failures and shortcomings which allowed such abuse to take place.

“Being in the care of the local authority should provide safety for children and sadly this was not always the case. Abuse of a child is an abhorrent, unforgivable crime which has a devastating effect on the lives of victims. We hope that the independent scrutiny of the Inquiry, and having their voice heard as part of the proceedings, will give survivors a sense of justice.

“We will continue to provide any support we can and would encourage anybody aware of or affected by abuse, current or historical, to come forward and speak confidentially to us or the police. We can assure anyone who suffered in the past or is suffering now, that they will be listened to, taken seriously and appropriate action will be taken.”

Responding to new allegations of historical abuse

  • All new referrals are initially processed by our Children and Families Direct service. In that service there are three specifically trained service advisors who take calls in relation to historical abuse
  • The service follows a clear process designed to ascertain key information in relation to the concern that is being highlighted. Advisors will also seek to clarify whether the survivor has appropriate support or access to support such as counselling
  • If the alleged abuser has children or contact with children then Children's Social Care would undertake an assessment of risk
  • On all occasions the details of the alleged perpetrator are passed to the Local authority Designated Officer (LADO). The LADO has a key role to play in supporting agencies to respond appropriately when there are concerns about the suitability of individuals who work with children and young people. In carrying out this work the LADO will ensure that relevant records are reviewed and work closely with colleagues from the City and County Council and the police
  • In October 2014 the Nottingham City Council publication Arrow detailed how people can contact us if they have or had concerns. We have dealt with further contacts as a result of this

Support for survivors 

Other documents relating to survivors support are available at the foot of this page.

Additional background information

What is alleged to have happened?

Allegations (criminal or civil) have been made against individuals (including members of staff) at a number of institutions in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, most of which have since closed. These institutions have been listed below.  We will not list any homes that Nottinghamshire Police advise the publication of which could compromise ongoing investigations.

Home

 

Current status

Amberdale (Stapleford)

became Clayfields House Secure Unit

Ashley House (Worksop)

now closed

Beechwood Complex (Mapperley)

Units at one time individually called, LindensRedcot and Enderleigh formed what was then known as Beechwood.  The Beechwood unit was also later known as Woodborough Road

now closed

Berry Hill Open Air School (Mansfield)

now closed

Bracken House, may also have been known as Crabtree Farm (Bulwell)

now closed

Brick House (Radcliffe on Trent)

now closed

Caudwell House (Southwell)

closed, then became home for children with disabilities

Cobblestones (St Ann’s)

now closed

Forest Lodge (Hyson Green) also linked to Forest Lodge (Forest Fields)

now closed

Greencroft (Clifton) may also have been known as Lees Children’s Home

now closed

Hazelwood (Forest Fields)

now closed

Laybrook and Somersall Street

now closed

Ranskill Gardens, later known as Farmlands

(Top Valley)

now closed

Redtiles (Bestwood Park) Re-opened as Beckhampton Road

open

Repton Lodge (Worksop)

now closed

The Ridge (Mansfield)

now closed

Risley Hall (Risley)

now closed

Skegby Hall (Sutton in Ashfield)

now closed

South Collingham Hall (Newark)

now closed

Sycamore House (Sherwood)

now closed

Wollaton House, later known as Radford Bridge Road (Wollaton)

now closed

Wood Nook, later known as Beechdale Road and Lady Bay (Nottingham)

now closed

Woodyard Lane, formerly known as Cherry Orchard (Nottingham)

now closed

Whatton Young Offender Institute(Whatton)

now a prison for adults

When is this said to have taken place?

Some of the allegations date back to the 1950s through to around 2000. Both councils and the police have previously taken action in earlier cases of historical abuse.

Who was responsible for running these homes?

Over the decades, due to local government reorganisations, the responsibility for running the homes in Nottingham has passed between the City and County Councils. The County Council was responsible for the homes between 1974 and 1998, with the City Council responsible before and after those dates.

What is being done to investigate these allegations?

A police investigation, was launched in 2011 to investigate the criminal allegations. It is ongoing and so far has resulted in several arrests, charges and convictions.

The police investigation continued and in early 2015 started looking into similar allegations in north Nottinghamshire. Both councils are taking the allegations very seriously and are helping the Police with their investigations to try and get to the truth and, hopefully, bring perpetrators to justice.

Operation Daybreak and Operation Xeres are now being managed by the police under the umbrella of Operation Equinox.

Both councils and the police have previously taken action in earlier cases of historical abuse.

What else are the councils doing?

Civil claims for compensation, relating to historical physical and sexual abuse, are underway against both councils, centring on but not exclusive to Beechwood Community Home.

There have been more than 100 claims submitted to the Councils to date a number of which have already been settled. The councils are continuing to respond to these appropriately.

If you experienced abuse in your childhood you are entitled to see the perpetrators brought to justice, and if that abuse took place within institutions you may be entitled to civil compensation.

If you want to make a criminal complaint you should contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101. If you wish to pursue a civil claim against an organisation, you would be advised to seek independent legal advice either by contacting a solicitor directly, or via the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

It is possible to make either a criminal or a civil claim on their own, or to or to progress both at the same time.

There is a strategic group of local authority directors, senior police and health colleagues supporting all aspects of these investigations, including offering support to survivors. Work overseen by this group is underway to ensure that any lessons are learnt from what happened in the past at children's homes in Nottinghamshire, how services at those homes were delivered, and how local agencies have responded to the allegations of abuse, and will engage survivors or representative groups in this process. This work will be independently reviewed, but not until the active police investigation has concluded, to ensure that its integrity is maintained and the prospect of securing convictions is not undermined.

The councils are also engaging fully with the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

What are you doing to protect against this happening again?

There will sadly always be individuals who seek to harm children. This council is committed to always doing everything we can, with our partners, to protect children from them and keep children in Nottingham safe. The safety and wellbeing of children in our care is our highest priority.

Residential care has transformed over the period these allegations relate to, changing from large institutions intended for providing containment, sometimes punishment, and education through to community homes and to the current provision of small group homes for those children unable to live in a family environment.  The use of corporal punishment remained acceptable, and regulation of residential care was minimal, until the 1990s. Child protection procedures were established in the early 1980s, with sexual abuse being included from 1985.

Children's homes now have much tighter scrutiny and controls and any complaints from children in care are always listened to by independent experts. The safety, quality of care and outcome for individual children are now closely monitored and reviewed by Ofsted, local safeguarding children boards. A recent inspection of children's services by the independent regulator Ofsted, confirmed that Nottingham City Council has put in place effective measures to safeguard and protect our most vulnerable children.

What is happening about a review?

Police investigations have been subject to ongoing independent scrutiny and a multi-agency strategic management group has been established to oversee the response to these allegations, with clear terms of reference in line with national child protection procedures.

Both councils are already undertaking work to ensure that any lessons are learnt from what happened in the past at children's homes in Nottinghamshire, how services at those homes were delivered, and how local agencies have responded to allegations of abuse, and will engage victims and survivors or representative groups in this process.

Both councils have welcomed the independent scrutiny that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will bring to cases of historical sexual abuse and will engage fully with it. The full scope of any local independent review required will become clearer once we fully understand what ground the national Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will cover.

Further Information 

 

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