Betrayal of the children: Another London council attacked for ignoring warnings about abuse (31.7.97)

Evening Standard, 31st July 1997

POLICE warnings of sexual and physical abuse at a boys’ boarding school were repeatedly ignored by a London council, a damning new report has found.

 An inquiry by child protection experts has discovered Camden reinstated a care worker accused of abuse at the school and effectively allowed him to prey on vulnerable children.

 In echoes of the Islington and Hackney child abuse scandals, the council also stands accused of political correctness in failing to act against the care worker because he was black.

 Thames Valley Police, who have now set up an investigation to try to trace boys abused at the school, strongly criticised the council for failing to act on its concerns about the man.

 The Evening Standard can also reveal that two teenagers allegedly abused by the care worker were later found dead and are believed to have committed suicide.

 The report, published tomorrow by independent investigators Dr Barbara Kahan and Bodil Mlynarska, makes clear that Camden failed to act on information about the abuse from both police and Buckinghamshire social services.

 It also details allegations from teachers at the school in Leighton Buzzard – run by Camden for emotionally disturbed children from across London – that boys were disciplined by being made to stand naked and wet in front of open windows, that staff woke up boys in the morning by laying cold hands on their bodies and that some pupils were regularly beaten.

 The care worker was suspended in 1993, one year before the school was finally closed, after claims that he had abused a boy.

 Police had gathered evidence against him but the council failed to use it.

 A police officer told the inquiry: “We offered to attend but were not asked.

 We would have shown them tapes and given evidence.”

 The man was reinstated on a technicality, but six weeks later he was fired after further abuse claims.

 The report finds that Camden acted chaotically in dealing with the case and even fired teachers who tried to give information.

 Camden’s director of education Bob Litchfield said: “We fully acknowledge the concerns that have been raised and we must, of course, learn from past mistakes. An action plan is in place to take on the recommendations in the report.”

%d bloggers like this: