In the early 1990s a wave of scandals started to emerge involving the infiltration of schools and children’s homes by paedophiles. These included Crookham Court, Castle Hill, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, North Wales, Islington, Lambeth, and Merseyside.
Margaret Hodge, leader of Islington Council at a time when every one of its homes was staffed by paedophiles, recently tried to explain her failure to protect children in care by saying “All that happened when we didn’t really understand child abuse in the way that we understand it now. This was the early 90s … It was only beginning to emerge that paedophiles were working with children, in children’s homes and elsewhere”. (Guardian 27/04/13)
But Margaret Hodge isn’t being entirely honest when she says “it was only beginning to emerge that paedophiles were working with children, in children’s homes”. There were several well-documented scandals involving paedophiles working in children’s homes in the 1980s, and anyone with responsibility for children’s homes should have been well aware of them. Two examples that were reported in both the national papers and the social work press were Leeways in 1986, and the Kincora scandal which broke in 1980.
If you go back to the 1970s there are yet more reports of paedophile care workers abusing children in care. In November 1977 the Head of Ashdene children’s home in Southampton was jailed for abusing five girls in his care. And in November 1976 there was a scandal in Newcastle involving a care worker called Hugh Bostock who had abused 55 boys.
It doesn’t seem possible that one worker could have sexually assaulted 55 children without any other workers being aware of it, and unsurprisingly one worker was also implicated in this way as being complicit in the abuse.
Social Work Today, 21st December 1976
Brian Roycroft, Newcastle City Council’s Director of Social Services, stood by the worker and refused to dismiss him. He said there would be disciplinary action “but not of a serious nature”. A slap on the wrist for standing by and allowing 55 children to be abused.
Brian Roycroft was also the Secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), and took part in the decision not to create a ‘blacklist’ of social workers who had committed similar offences.
Social Work Today, 26th April 1977
It was clearly thought more important to protect a social worker “who may find themselves unfairly placed on the list” than it was to protect children in care from being abused by known child sex offenders.
Brian Roycroft went on to become President of the ADSS, was given a CBE, and was appointed to two separate European Commissioner posts by Margaret Thatcher.