London, 27 July 2021 (PA Media/dpa/MIA) – UK council staff “put vulnerable children in the path” of sex offenders, who infiltrated children’s homes and foster care, with “devastating, life-long consequences for their victims,” a damning report into decades of abuse has found.
Employees in the south London borough of Lambeth “treated children in care as if they were worthless” and appeared to demonstrate “a callous disregard for the vulnerable children they were paid to look after,” according to the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
It heard evidence of children being raped, indecently assaulted and sexually abused, but said that of complaints from 705 former residents across three such facilities, only one member of senior staff was ever disciplined.
When children reported complaints at the time, they were routinely
disbelieved. The report estimated the number of those abused was likely much higher and recommended the Metropolitan Police should consider whether there were grounds for a criminal investigation into one boy who died in a care home in 1977, having previously complained of being abused by a senior member of staff.
John O’Brien, secretary to the inquiry, said this report was the worst of the 15 issued by IISCA to date.
He told the PA news agency: “It didn’t matter which corner you look in here, you found a failure or a number of failures.”
“It’s the only report where, reading through it, I’ve had to put it down at regular intervals because what it’s describing is just unrelenting.”
In a statement, Claire Holland, Lambeth council leader, said: “The council was responsible for their care and protection but failed, with profound consequences. The council is deeply sorry for their experiences.”