Children in care in residential homes and foster families are amongst the most vulnerable in society. Keeping them safe from harm should be a top priority for Local Authorities. However, this does not always translate into practice.
The Lambeth Inquiry, which concluded with a public hearing in June and July of last year, found that over several decades hundreds of children under the care of Lambeth Council have been subject to levels of cruelty and sexual abuse that are difficult to comprehend.
The abuse present at residential homes, such as Shirley Oaks, South Vale and Angell Road, has been described as so horrific that for some children, their experience in care was far worse than the environment of violence and neglect that they had been removed from.
Staff, foster carers and volunteers in residential settings all contributed towards creating a culture of ‘fear, sexism and racism’ under which violence and sexual abuse was allowed to thrive.
The report highlights the failures of Lambeth Council across the board, including omitting to adequately vet foster carers, who were not the subject of criminal record checks.
By June 2020, Lambeth Council had received complaints from 705 former residents, although this is said to be a harsh underestimate. Nonetheless, despite a significant number of complaints, over 40 years the council have only disciplined one senior employee in connection with sexual abuse allegations.
The Inquiry found that many children had previously disclosed the abuse but the council failed to take any meaningful action. Children were often not believed and this would worsen their experiences, inflicting further pain and distress.
It is clear that in many cases the abuse was fuelled by racism, as the report shows an overwhelming majority of children in the named residential homes were black.
Chair of the Inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay, has described victims as pawns in a ‘toxic power game’ fuelled by bullying, racism, nepotism and sexism. Extreme corruption allowed this to continue for many years.
Unfortunately, the abuse highlighted by the Lambeth Inquiry is not a rarity. At Farleys, we regularly see this type of abuse, and the long- term impact that this can have on survivors. Often this type of abuse is preventable, yet failings by the Local Authority allow it to go untreated, compounding the affect that it has on survivor’s lives.
For these victims there is unfortunately no way to escape the abuse that they have been subject to. However, pursuing a claim can help our clients to bring closure to their ordeal, to provide the resources to fund the medical treatments and therapy they may require.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of historical child abuse in care, we are available to help and assist. Call our abuse line on 0330 134 6430 to speak to a member of our dedicated team who will deal with your enquiry with the utmost confidentiality and integrity. If you’d prefer, you can also contact us by email or through the online chat below.
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