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.

Do you currently have concerns about the well-being of a child

The IICSA website

Historical abuse

Background

  • 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

Nottinghamshire Police are investigating allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse from 292 victims under the county-wide Operation Equinox, of whom 172 come under Operation Daybreak which is looking at historical cases in the City of Nottingham and 120 come under Operation Xeres which covers the county of Nottinghamshire.

The overall Operation Equinox position is currently that 20 suspects have been arrested and four have been convicted.

The principles underpinning the investigation are: All complaints and alleged victims are listened to, all allegations are taken seriously and all allegations are investigated irrespective of:

  • Detail given (some victims describe the abuser as 'unknown' and some allegations are against people who were not linked with care homes or staff)
  • Location (some involve abuse in establishments outside Nottinghamshire and have been referred to appropriate police forces or councils)
  • Previous action (allegations involve individuals who have been previously identified, investigated and successfully prosecuted).

The civil claims

There are 101 claimants in total to date. See breakdown below:

 

No of claimants

Of which pre 1974

Of which post 1998

City

12

10

2

County

80

n/a

n/a

Split City/County

9

n/a

n/a

Of the 12 City claims:

  • Four have been paid compensation relating to allegations that were pre 1974
  • Two have been paid compensation relating to allegations that were post 1998. Liability in both of these cases was split with Nottinghamshire County Council

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, known as 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. Hon. Lowell Goddard announced that Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils would be one of the Inquiry's first 12 investigations.

See the 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

Responding to the Inquiry's announcement, Anthony May, Chief Executive at Nottinghamshire County Council and Ian Curryer, Chief Executive at Nottingham City Council said:

"We welcome 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. We have been jointly investigating allegations of historical abuse, some of which are of a sexual nature, for a number of years now with Nottinghamshire Police.

"From the outset, we have taken these allegations seriously, some of which date back to the 1940s when predecessor organisations were in charge of children's homes.

"The safety and well-being of children in our care today must be, and is, of the highest priority. The safety and quality of care for such children is nowadays closely regulated and scrutinised by Ofsted and our Children's Safeguarding Boards."

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 victims 

  • All alleged victims have been listened to and their concerns and allegations have been taken seriously
  • This will continue to be the case. Current investigations are being progressed by two dedicated teams of specialist police officers and are being progressed through both civil and criminal proceedings, although a small number of cases are only in one or other of these processes
  • Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council have commissioned an independent private law firm to investigate all civil claims. Claimants are represented by their own legal advisors. Disputed claims are heard in civil court with decisions being made by a judge
  • A support pathway for victims and complainants has been developed by local health colleagues. Information regarding this will be sent to all of those who have made some form of complaint. You can download the 'Have you been impacted by sexual abuse in childhood?' booklet.
  • There is a dedicated victim and survivor section of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse website
  • There was also a Victims and Survivors Forum Pilot event in August 2016, the summary of which can be found here

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, none of which are still open.  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, Lindens, Redcot 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/Somersall Street

now closed

Ranskill Gardens, later known as Farmlands

(Top Valley)

now closed

Redtiles (Bestwood Park)

Closed, then re-opened as Beckhampton Road

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, Operation Daybreak, was launched in 2011 to investigate the criminal allegations. It is ongoing and so far has resulted in several arrests and charges. A further police investigation, Operation Xeres, was launched in 2014 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.

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. Some of the 101 claimants have made allegations about their time at the home (covering the period from the 1950s to 2000), but additional allegations are made in respect of the 15 other former children's homes formerly operated by the councils.

On legal advice and in consultation with our insurers, both councils have settled a number of civil claims with alleged victims relating to physical abuse, without any admission of liability. Four of these fell into the period when homes within the City boundary were managed by Nottingham City Council. These claims were paid by the respective Council or their insurers. In addition, two claims span both periods meaning that the claim has been part funded by both councils or their insurers. The total value of compensation made for claims in the city is £82,100 of which £74,750 was pre-1974 and £7,350 was post-1998. A number of other claims are ongoing.

In addition to Operation Daybreak and the civil claims, there is a strategic group of local authority directors, senior police and health colleagues supporting all aspects of these investigations, including offering support to victims. 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 will now also engage fully with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

What about other alleged victims?

Most alleged victims are being dealt with through the civil claims process and the police investigation. To date, one individual has chosen to deal with matters differently and we have gone to exceptional lengths to ensure he feels supported and that his case is being taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. Senior officers have dealt with his case as a matter of priority, personally speaking to and meeting him on numerous occasions. We have allocated a specialist worker to help him to write a chronology of his time in care to help him gain closure.

Have childcare files been lost?

During the period many of these allegations relate to, there was no statutory requirement or national policy determining how long such files should be kept. In the case of one individual, we have confirmed that the County Council was responsible for his childcare files and they have explained to him that, regrettable though it is, they were destroyed in 1978. The County Council has apologised to this individual. The City Council has allocated a specialist worker to help him to write a chronology of his time in care to help him gain closure. We want to help this individual and ensure his allegations are investigated properly.

Is it true there's been a cover-up?

There's no truth whatsoever in accusations of a cover-up. We are listening to every victim who comes to us and taking action on all allegations. Proper processes are underway - including Nottinghamshire Police's Operation Daybreak investigation, settling civil claims by the City and County Councils and an independent inquiry which will get underway once the police investigation has finished. We do not shy away from these allegations and will not rest until we have got to the bottom of what happened in the past to ensure that children are better protected today.

What are Councillors doing about this?

Councillors at Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council are committed to looking into allegations of child abuse and supporting Nottinghamshire Police's investigations. 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. We have welcomed the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Paddy Tipping's call for an independent review. This was a joint decision reached between the chief executives at the County and City Councils, the PCC and the Chief Constable. Work is underway to prepare for the review once it gets underway at the conclusion of the criminal investigation. We have also welcomed the independent scrutiny that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will bring to cases of historical abuse and will engage fully with it.

How do you know this couldn't happen 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 will happen next?

The City Council will continue to support Operation Daybreak. We will engage fully with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse which will bringindependent scrutiny to cases of historical abuse. The independent review will start once the active police investigation is complete.  It's paramount we are transparent and can reassure the public that any claims of this nature are taken seriously and fully investigated.

What is happening about a review?

The police investigation has 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 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.

Both councils will also now engage fully with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

We do not shy away from these allegations and will not rest until we have got to the bottom of what happened in the past to ensure that children are better protected today.

Is this the same as Rotherham?

The allegations currently being investigated through Operation Daybreak relate to forms of child abuse such as physical abuse, bullying and, to a lesser degree, sexual abuse, which took place within children's homes. The situation in Rotherham is very different as it focuses specifically on child sexual exploitation (CSE), where children in the community are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

What if I'm affected by abuse?

We understand how difficult it is for abuse victims 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: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

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