Following his presentation to the Home Office of two dossiers about sexual crimes against children, Geoffrey Dickens raised concerns about ‘child brothels’ being run on an Islington Council Estate. In 1986, he spoke of tenants providing him with tape recordings of children screaming during ‘sex sessions’ and mentioned 40 child victims some as young as 6. He also identified three premises and reported matters to Scotland Yard and Douglas Hurd the Home Secretary. These allegations were denied at the time by the Director of Social Services. Yet, in the very area where Dickens was highlighting his concerns, the decomposed body of a girl of 17 was found in a cupboard in a block of council flats. She was said to have been strangled during oral sex after being at a ‘sex party’. This was in 1988 when, as a social work manager in the area, I was hearing rumours of children in the care system being murdered. I remembered the girl’s name being whispered and made a note but have only recently acquired the press cuttings about her going missing and then being found murdered. I do not know if Vivian Loki was in the Islington care system because no-one is interested in finding out. I have reported this case repeatedly to various authorities since the early 90s.
Another whisper, also scribbled in my hand written notes at the time, was of a thirteen year old boy Anthony McGrane (I had recorded his name as McGrath and his age as 9 years – perhaps this was another child – I do not know). Anthony was found dead in a garage. This time the press cuttings said that he had been a resident in Conewood Street Assessment Centre. If this was true then this was the same children’s home where residential workers had told me that Jason Swift had lived shortly before he was murdered by Sidney Cooke and his gang. At the time of the Islington Inquiries in the 90s, Jason’s residence in an Islington home was also denied by the senior Islington manager. Anthony died of multiple stab wounds. My notes stated a different garage location from the one in the newspapers. Perhaps my information was flawed. Police at the time said that his death may have been linked to 16 other child killings. In both these cases men were convicted of manslaughter and each served 6 years imprisonment.
In the early 90s, when I exposed the extensive abuse of Islington children in the care system, I began to hear accounts of other child murders. Managers, who must have known of these previous cases, accused me of being obsessional and hysterical and tried to stop my investigations. I have recently learnt that orders came from a senior police officer to close the investigations down. I do not know if anyone has a current interest in knowing who that officer was and of course by now he may not even be alive. The social work manager who told me to forget my work with police at that time needs to be called to account with many others who continued to work within the profession and were never asked to explain their absolute disregard for the safety of children. At the time of the Islington Inquiries some staff left the country returning in later years to resume their careers.
In the absence of police investigation, I have continued to raise my concerns through the twenty-plus years but there has never been a national overview of the connections that went way beyond Islington borders. I have no doubt that children were marketed for sexual exploitation to children’s homes all over the country and I have long argued for a national police and social work investigation team. However, instead of improving child protection systems they have been steadily eroded. Joint police and social work child protection teams have long been closed down and in 2013, revised statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, completely eliminated the definition of organised abuse and the means of investigating it. I was horrified. Who exactly was responsible for this policy change?
This is why I want a National Inquiry into organised child abuse. I have struggled to get such cases investigated for many years and got nowhere. I want to know the reason for that. I want to know who was responsible for shredding my files on 61 child victims which were unavailable to the Inquiries. I want to know why so many of the Islington staff who supported the abusers and colluded in the cover ups went on to senior social work posts. I do not know who the 32 social services staff were that, following the Inquiry, were not allowed to work with children but I have certainly located two members of staff who tried to protect children, found their names on the list and were unable to continue their careers. I want to know how such an injustice could happen to good people and no-one be brought to task over it. Only recently I obtained a report of an Inquiry to which I had presented evidence. Nothing of my 4 hour contribution featured in it. The authors of that Inquiry need to be called to account.
Those MPs who have not signed up to the need for a National Inquiry are under scrutiny. Margaret Hodge, former labour lead in Islington who did not believe my reports of abuse networks has not so far stated her position. In her defence, she often said that she was misled by her senior officers. I want to know if, when she realised she had been misinformed, she reported these so called professionals to the relevant regulatory bodies and to police. I want answers. I have waited a long time. Now, through social media, adult survivors are coming forward adding to my knowledge of what happened in the Islington care homes. They also want answers . Most of them have waited far longer than me.
Dr Liz Davies
Reader in Child Protection
London Metropolitan University