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  1. Kate MacDonald said:



    Lambeth Council has launched an investigation into allegations that a care worker sexually assaulted a 12-year-old mentally handicapped boy in his care.
    Police are also investigating the incident, which is alleged to have taken place at the council’s Monkton Street long-stay and shared care home in Kennington on 11 July.
    The worker – Lambeth has refused to say whether he is a social worker or not – was questioned by police following a complaint from the boy’s mother. But no charges were made and he was later released.
    The man was subsequently interviewed by social services managers and placed on “special leave” pending the outcome of both the police and management inquiries. The council has stressed, however, that he has not been suspended.
    Director of social services Robin Osmond has written to the parents of children at Monkton Street advising them that they might be asked by the police to give evidence or have their children medically examined.
    He also told the parents that if they have any fears about their own children, they should ask their GP or a police doctor for a medical examination.
    According to the council, no other parents have withdrawn their children from Monkton Street.
    Phyllis Dunipace, chairman of Lambeth’s social services committee, said: “We are most concerned at this distressing information and we await the outcome of the management investigation, which will be starting as soon as possible.
    “Social workers have personally visited the parents of the children in the home and have offered advice and support.”
    The investigation is the second of its kind to be launched in Lambeth within a month.
    On 24 June an official inquiry was begun into allegations that a 15-year-old mentally handicapped girl had been sexually assaulted by a care worker at Ivy House, a respite centre in Croydon. This worker too has been placed on “special leave”.
    The incident was first reported to Lambeth SSD in December last year but an internal management inquiry carried out soon afterwards concluded that there was no evidence of any misconduct by the officer involved.
    The girl’s parents, however, were dissatisfied with the outcome and brought in the Children’s Legal Centre to challenge the findings.
    Two major deficiencies were highlighted – the inquiry only looked at the eleventh and last occasion the girl stayed at the home, and neither the girl nor her parents were interviewed.
    The new investigation, ordered by the then social services committee chairman Janet Boateng in March, is headed by a senior social services officer and includes Lambeth’s principal race relations officer and an NSPCC child abuse expert.
    Kay Williams, a solicitor and the sole black worker at the Children’s Legal Centre, told Community Care: “We hope that the truth can now be ascertained. A large degree of racism was involved – the complaint wasn’t taken seriously because the girl is black and the member of staff is white.”

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