Sunday Times, 1st August 1993
by Richard Palmer
Britain’s biggest police inquiry into organised sexual abuse of children has been launched by Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad.
The investigation into networks of paedophiles who have been paying for sex with boys and girls, has uncovered several groups across London and other parts of southern England who link up to swap information and abuse children. For the past five months officers from the squad have secretly liaised with directors of social services in more than half a dozen London boroughs amid fears that organised gangs have targeted vulnerable children in their areas.
Several of the most prominent offenders under surveillance are wealthy businessmen. They have been linked to a sex ring abusing young people living in children’s homes in the London borough of Islington.
The police inquiry has produced evidence that the north London borough has been a magnet for child molesters over the past few years, as a result of the council’s lax control over the young people in its charge. The extent of child abuse in Islington was highlighted last week when an independent report condemned the council’s standards of child care as unacceptable.
On the same day the government ordered its health watchdog, the Social Services Inspectorate, to examine evidence that officials in the Labour-run council repeatedly ignored junior social workers who warned that paedophiles were preying on children in care.
Confidential documents obtained by The Sunday Times portray an alarming picture of official neglect and show that children in care are still being abused, even though staff had been aware of the problem in some homes for years. Staff have alleged that some children were abused by the very social workers who were supposed to protect them. Yet when they expressed fears that council employees were abusing boys, the local authority accused them of being anti-homosexual.
“There is widespread evidence of a network of abusers but the council chose to ignore that and treat those cases that it did look into as individual cases” said one social worker.
Islington Council last week admitted that it had failed to deal with the problem adequately and that some children in care were still being abused. Sandy Marks, the social services chairman, promised to sack senior staff if the government inquiry proves they have acted unprofessionally.