A large care provider for children has been associated with grooming, sexual assault, and huge profits. Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, is ‘appalled’ by the ‘actual harm’ which has occurred within Calcot Services for Children. The care provider offers services such as crisis intervention, educational facilities, residential care, respite care, sexual trauma services, and supported living, amongst others.

Current and former Calcot employees disclosed to the BBC that the company had accepted the care of high-risk children, and their associated inflated levels of funding, without meeting their needs and keeping them safe. The following concerns have been uncovered:

  • Children have been groomed for sex, provided with alcohol, and assaulted by staff;

  • Dedicated care and teaching staff were not always implemented where necessary, despite specific funding being provided for such services;

  • Reports were not made to Ofsted after allegations of child-on-child sexual abuse and suicide attempts, despite an obligation to do so;
  • Serious incidents such as assault and rape have been associated with claims of inadequate staffing in homes;

  • Staff have, at times, been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements upon leaving the company.

One whistleblower has described the event which prompted her to leave the company: a 17-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were found undressed and unsupervised. The boy disclosed sexual abuse to staff. Despite reassurances from Senior Management, it has been revealed that the incident was never reported to Ofsted – nor was it recorded in Calcot’s own incident log. This was not an isolated occurrence. Another incident included a 28-year-old employee being jailed after grooming and having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old in supported living accommodation.

Calcot made profits of 42%, 36%, and 32% over the past three years. Whilst staff have accused the provider of prioritising profit over children, charging weekly fees of up to £150,000, Calcot has stated that they prioritise safeguarding. They claim that their high profits were achieved through investments. It has been noted that Calcot’s profits over the past five years have been more than double those of the 15 largest care providers in the country, which themselves have been considered ‘excessive’. With increasing demand for places, inflating costs, and severe staff shortages, the Independent Children’s Homes Association has declared that the sector is in ‘crisis’.

These allegations follow a string of recent reports revealing the failings of our care systems, placing vulnerable children and young people at risk. An independent review has revealed that children’s social care requires an unavoidable multibillion-pound overall. As a result of this recent discourse, government ministers are facing urgent calls for reforms, with concerns predominantly focussing on the quality and safety of the private market. A windfall tax on excess profits has been suggested, which would impact the largest providers.

We at Farleys Solicitors continue to bring claims against local authorities for their failings, securing many millions of pounds in damages for victims every year. If you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim against a local authority for social services failings, you can contact our dedicated abuse line in confidence on 0330 134 6430, or get in touch by email, or through the online chat below.