This week, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse commenced its three week investigation into historical child sex abuse in Nottinghamshire Children’s Homes and foster homes (the “Inquiry”).

Week one of the Inquiry was held at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground in Nottingham. The Inquiry Panel, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, heard opening submissions from the legal representatives of the Core Participants, flagging issues that they wished the Panel to consider as part of the investigations. The Panel also heard live evidence from a number of Complainant Core Participants, survivors of child sex abuse in Nottinghamshire Children’s Homes and foster homes.

Jonathan Bridge and I, of Farleys, represent Complainant Core Participant N1 to the Inquiry. N1 gave evidence to the Inquiry on 3 October 2018 as to the abuse she suffered at Beechwood Children’s Home in Nottingham at the age of twelve in the early 1980s. N1 described a “culture of abuse” perpetrated by members of staff at Beechwood, involving daily physical and emotional  abuse. N1 was sexually abused by a residential carer at Beechwood, Andris Logins.

Crucially, N1 drew the Inquiry Panel’s attention to the nature, extent and effect of grooming tactics used by Andris Logins. N1 went on to study a degree relating to Youth Work and speak about her experience at Women’s Aid conferences. She emphasised to the Inquiry that she would repeat her story again and again if it would help bring about change to the way in which survivors of child sexual abuse are treated. She also provided the Inquiry with strong recommendations of ways in which Nottinghamshire Councils (Nottingham City Council and Nottingham County Council) and Nottingham Police could better protect children in local authority care and better support survivors of child sexual abuse.

A detailed account of N1’s evidence can be accessed here.

Chris Jacobs, who is counsel instructed by Farleys Solicitors in relation to N1, stressed during opening submissions, that the Inquiry Panel should be wary of evidence from Nottinghamshire Councils that children in their care are no longer at risk of child sex abuse or there are no longer barriers to disclosure of the same. The Inquiry Panel heard evidence from a survivor who was abused as recently as 2002 whilst a resident at Beechwood Children’s Home, demonstrating that this remains a real concern.

The Inquiry Panel also heard evidence from other Complainant Core Participants. One of whom was sexually abused by a foster carer and was told by her social worker when she disclosed the abuse, that she had an “over-active imagination”. Another Complainant Core Participant who was abused at Beechwood told the Inquiry Panel that although Beechwood no longer functions as a children’s home, he has to pass the building every day and asked that the Inquiry Panel recommend that it be torn down.

An emerging theme from the live evidence of Complainant Core Participants during week one, is that there is a demand for consistent, competent and free counselling for survivors of child sex abuse, provided by Nottinghamshire Councils, and the need for Nottingham Police and Social Services to make sure survivors of the same feel believed.

Week two (commencing 8 October 2018) and Week three (commencing 22 October 2018) of the Inquiry, will be heard at the Inquiry’s hearing centre in London. During these weeks, evidence will be heard from representatives of the Nottinghamshire Councils, Nottinghamshire Police and former employees of the Nottinghamshire Councils who worked at Beechwood and other Children’s Homes in or around Nottingham.

At the conclusion of the Inquiry, the Inquiry Panel will make recommendations as to the way in which Nottinghamshire Councils and Nottingham Police should protect children in local authority care from sexual abuse and break down barriers to disclosure of the same.

There are, at present, 13 live investigations into a variety of institutions within which child sex abuse exists or has existed. At the conclusion of all 13 investigations, the Inquiry will make broad and far reaching recommendations to provide better institutional protection of children against child sex abuse.

If you have been affected by any information arising from the Inquiry investigations and wish to discuss matter in confidence please do not hesitate to contact us. Call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.