Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Surrey County Council Social Services (CA 85)

  The following is supplied by Simon Slater, Children's Services Manager, Child Protection and Independent Review, who has, with colleagues in his team, overseen significant numbers of investigations into historic abuse, working with police and employing bodies to ensure a sensitive and co-ordinated approach to the three strands of such investigations, namely:

    —  criminal;

    —  child protection; and

    —  disciplinary/management.

  As a general observation we are curious as to why this Inquiry is restricted to "children's homes." In our experience exactly the same questions and issues arise in relation to historical allegations in any children's establishment, including boarding schools, day schools, day care settings, hospitals, sports clubs, etc.

  "Trawling"—We can leave the police and lawyers to comment on the resources/evidence issues in so far as "trawling" for other adults who were children at the time of the alleged offences is concerned. It is not our experience that the police will go looking for victims from a general list of people who were resident at the time of the allegation. They will only trace an ex-resident if the victim discloses that they were also involved in the abuse, and thus an allegation has been made.

  From a Child Protection point of view, where the alleged offender is currently or has recently been working with children, it can be argued that it is important for the protection of children who may currently be at risk, that they should, in an appropriate way, be asked whether they (or their parents) have any concerns/disclosures to report. This is a common scenario—there is often a current child protection issue in the case of past abuse allegations.

  The questions about the CPS "sensible line" and whether there should be a time limit on such prosecutions beg some very deep questions. Views vary widely as to whether past victims should be left alone, and not reminded of past trauma: on the other hand there is much evidence as to the long-term harm of such abuse, and our experience is that some adults are deeply relieved to be able to talk about past abuse, and to work through some of the harmful psychological effects after many years of silence/suppression. Whose interests are being served and for what purpose—punishment, justice or therapy? Consensus on the "sensible line" will only be achieved if we can move towards inter-disciplinary consensus on these issues. The difficulty of achieving a clear outcome, in terms of a prosecution, is well documented—is an inconclusive process helpful to a victim? It is surely not helpful to an alleged perpetrator (particularly if the allegation is in fact a malicious one) or to the alleged perpetrator's family.

  The CPS should apply the same rules regarding the voracity of evidence, and corroborative evidence to historical allegations as they do to current allegations. The time delay should not be a factor in making this decision.

  The deterrent effect of such proceedings on potential current offenders is questionable; the more decisive preventive factors are around proper recruitment and management, and the culture of the establishments concerned.

  We have no evidence of victims being encouraged to come forward with fabricated allegations because of possible compensation. In high profile cases, we would be more concerned about financial incentives offered to witnesses by the media than by any Criminal Injuries Compensation issues.

  The Social Services role—

  1.  Where the alleged perpetrator is no longer working with, or having contact with, children, such investigations are almost entirely police-led. The Social Services involvement, where the establishment was/is a Social Services Establishment, is to assist with the supply of records. Social Services Departments do also have a role as far as the local authority is concerned, to balance their investigative duties with their duty to manage financial risk/liability issues—this can be experienced as a duty which conflicts with other professional values.

  2.  Where the alleged perpetrator is currently working with, or in contact with, children, Social Services teams have a child protection role which may involve jointly interviewing child witnesses, liasing with management colleagues in the agencies concerned, and co-ordinating joint working. In our experience, Social Services managers are well placed in terms of professional knowledge and networking skills to carry out this role effectively.

Historical abuse investigations in the past five years in Surrey

    —  Is there a risk of fabricated allegations?

  The process of disclosure, investigation and possible prosecution is an extremely traumatic, drawn out and rigorous process for any victim. In our experience the process is a deterrent to anyone fabricating an allegation.

Regarding residential institutions investigated in the last five years

  Please find below details of such investigations for the last five years.

  Please note firstly that, in supplying this information, we have assumed that you are referring to historical allegations made in the last five years, ie the allegation has been made in the last five years and refers to past incidents. Secondly, you have referred to "residential institutions" and, as such, we have included Educational establishments such as boarding schools, as well as Children's Homes.



Type of Establishment

Nature of Complaint

Method and Scope of Investigation

Residential school for children with special needs.

Allegations of sexual abuse by Teacher.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation. Police attempted to trace other adults, but no further action due to lack of corroborative evidence.

Children's Home.

Allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by Manager.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation. Police interviewed five ex-residents. Insufficient evidence for police to proceed; Manager resigned.

Five Children's Homes.

Allegations of sexual abuse by five male carers.

Assisted another police force in their enquiry; Police secured convictions against three men.

Children's Home.

Allegation of sexual abuse by residential care worker.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation. Former residents traced and interviewed; worker interviewed. No further action due to lack of corroborative evidence.

Children's Home.

Allegation of sexual abuse against residential social worker.

SSD checked archive records and found alleged perpetrator to be dead; therefore no further action.

Children's Home.

Criminal background of proprietors led to seniors' doubts about their ability to run a Children's Home.

SSD liaised with Inspection and Registration and other Local Authorities resulting in closure of home.

Residential School.

Allegations of sexual abuse by teacher.

Liaised with another police force who traced perpetrator to Surrey. No further action due to difficulties in proving historic allegation.

Children's Home.

Alleged rape of girls in Children's Home by residential social worker who currently worked for Surrey.

Widescale investigation by Police/SSD, involving other Local Authorities, resulting in conviction.

Children's Home.

Allegation of sexual abuse by residential care worker.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation involving tracing previous records, checking for any other allegations and locating alleged perpetrator. No further action as perpetrator deceased.

Residential Private School.

Allegation of sexual abuse by teacher.

Police-led Investigation. School now closed and no existing records. Unable to trace alleged perpetrator so no further action.

Children's Home.

Allegations of sexual abuse.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation. Located perpetrator; charged and convicted of two counts.

Private Residential School.

Allegation of sexual abuse by residential worker involving six pupils.

Poice-led Investigation. Currently being worked on so no details to be disclosed.

Residential School.

Allegation of sexual abuse in previous children's homes by Head of Care.

Current Police Investigation so no details disclosed.

Children's Home.

Allegations of sexual abuse; history of concerns over many different establishments.

Police/SSD Investigation but insufficient evidence to pursue via Court.

Residential School.

Allegation that current Head indecently assaulted female pupil.

Police-led Investigation resulting in police tracing ex-pupils named by victims. Charged and convicted on four charges of indecent assault.

Children's Home.

Allegation of sexual abuse by Head of Home against female residents.

Police Investigation resulting in conviction for 16 charges of rape, buggery and indecent assault.

Children's Home.

Allegation of sexual abuse by Head of Children's Home for children with learning difficulties.

Prolonged Police-led Investigation involving seven victims and extensive record searching. One perpetrator died before prosecution; associate prosecuted. Had features of a paedophile ring.

Residential School.

Allegations by two male victims with learning difficulties of physical and sexual abuse by care workers.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation but insufficient information to pursue the investigation. Records at school found to be incomplete.

Children's Home.

Allegation of physical abuse by residential social worker.

Victim unable to pursue Police Investigation due to personal circumstances.

Residential School.

Allegation by two ex-pupils of sexual assault by teacher.

Joint Police/SSD Investigation, widescale involving many ex-pupils.

February 2002




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Prepared 31 October 2002