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  1. ITV Report

Girls were drugged and abused over 20 years at children's home

The home has been described as 'toxic and destructive.' Credit: ITV Meridian

Vulnerable girls at a Church of England children's home in Kent were drugged and sexually and physically abused over nearly 20 years, a report has revealed.

Revelations of sexual abuse, ill-treatment and physical abuse at Kendall House in Gravesend between 1967 and 1986 were outlined in an independent review today.

The review was launched last year by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, who said today the diocese 'apologised unreservedly' for the suffering caused.

The review was launched by the Rt Rev James Langstaff Credit: ITV Meridian

Opened in the 1920s, Kendall House was a home for vulnerable girls aged between 11 and 16 who were mainly placed there by their local authority. It closed in 1986.

The review disclosed how girls as young as 11-years-old were routinely, and often without medical assessment, given powerful anti-depressants, sedatives and anti-psychotic drugs at the home.

It also described how those who resisted or overcame the drugs' effects faced sanctions, including being locked alone in a room for days on end or emotionally abused.

Others told how they were raped after being imprisoned in an isolation room and locked in alone overnight.

The findings are harrowing. They reveal an institution which had weak governance and oversight, a place where control, containment and sometimes cruelty were normalised.

A place where vulnerable girls, many previously and repeatedly let down by their parents, social services and other agencies, were caught in a regime that in many ways sought to rob them of their individuality, of hope, and in some cases of their liberty.

The evidence we have heard and read during this review tells of a place which was, on the whole, toxic and destructive to the girls placed there.

– Independent Review into Kendall House
Kendall House closed in 1986 Credit: ITV Meridian

The report named consultant psychiatrist Dr Perinpanayagam, who was a medical advisor to Kendall House, as a key adviser on drug treatment for residents. He retired in 1983 and died in 1988.

The 137-page report also revealed how:

  • Every resident placed at Kendall House was "vulnerable to the risk" of emotional, physical or sexual abuse by staff, other residents or third parties

  • Every former resident spoken to by the review team had suffered abuse;

  • Some girls were placed in straitjackets

  • Some former residents went on to attempt suicide.

The review also noted that the home operated under a 'regimented, rigid culture, where docile conformity was demanded'.

Girls were supervised by a largely unqualified workforce led by a 'dominant and authoritarian' figure, Doris Law, who is now dead.

None of the perpetrators of the abuse are still alive.