Children abused for decades under care of Lambeth LBC, inquiry finds

By Laura Sharman | 27 July 2021

Hundreds of children were subjected to decades of cruelty and sexual abuse while in the care of Lambeth LBC, a damning inquiry has found.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said the scale of abuse since the 1960s was 'hard to comprehend,' with children used as 'pawns in a toxic power game' within the council.

It received 705 complaints about sexual abuse from former residents at Shirley Oaks, one of the council's biggest care homes.

Despite this, the council only disciplined one senior employee for their part in the catalogue of sexual abuse.

Inquiry chair Alexis Jay said: 'Over several decades children in residential and foster care suffered levels of cruelty and sexual abuse that are hard to comprehend.

'For many years bullying, intimidation, racism, nepotism and sexism thrived within the council, and all against a backdrop of corruption and financial mismanagement.'

The report called for the council to draw up an action plan, conduct mandatory training for elected councillors on safeguarding and corporate parenting, and review the recruitment and vetting checks of current foster carers and children’s home staff.

Lambeth has issued a 'sincere and heartfelt apology' to all victims and survivors, and said it accepted all the recommendations of the report.

A statement from the council read: 'The extent and scale of the horrendous abuse, which took place over many decades, remains deeply shocking.

'The council failed to acknowledge concerns when they arose, often failed to believe children when they disclosed abuse and then failed to take effective action.

'The council takes responsibility for contributing to conditions in which adults were able to abuse with apparent impunity.

Lambeth also recognises that a disproportionate number of those children were black, Asian and multi-ethnic despite a range of policies intended to better meet their needs.'

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