Councils 'failed' to protect children in care from sexual abuse, inquiry concludes

Nottinghamshire Country Council Nottingham City Council have both been criticised in the report. Credit: ITV News Central

An inquiry into the historical child sexual abuse of children in care in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire has concluded that both councils failed in their duty to protect children from sexual abuse.

The Chair and Panel of the IICSA (The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) also found that "despite decades of evidence", there continues to be weaknesses in the foster care practice under both councils.

During the 1980s and 1990s physical violence and sexual abuse occurred in many of the Councils’ children’s homes and in foster care.

According to the report, neither Councils learned from their mistakes.

The inquiry heard how staff at Beechwood Children’s Home, were "threatening and violent" and that "physical abuse was commonplace".

Nottinghamshire Country Council Nottingham City Council have both been criticised in the report. Credit: ITV News Central

The report continued: "Sexualised behaviour by staff was tolerated or overlooked, allowing abusers to thrive.

"Managers at Beechwood were complacent or deliberately ignored the plight of children under their care."

The report found there were "only two disciplinary actions taken whenallegations of sexual abuse were made and these were inadequate".

In one home, all child residents over a 12 month period were exposed to harmful sexual behaviour.

Both councils failed to address the issue.

Two recommendations have been made by the inquiry. They include assessments of the potential risks posed by staff and foster carers, and an independent external evaluation of Nottingham City Council of their practice concerning harmful sexual behaviour.

Sixteen residential staff were convicted of the sexual abuse of children in residential care between the late 1970s to 2019.

Ten foster carers were convicted of sexual abuse of their foster children, and the inquiry is aware of 12 further convictions relating to the harmful sexual behaviour of children against other children in care.


The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse underway in London. Credit: ITV News Central

In October 2018 IICSA held a 3-week inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in care in Nottinghamshire dating back to the 1960s.

This was after a long battle to get an independent inquiry after both local councils said their initial preference was for an internal investigation.

The first few days of the IICSA Inquiry were held at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. The remaining were held in London.

The inquiry was examining the extent to which Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council failed children in its care (either in children's homes or foster care).

The 4 main areas examined were...

  • Residential care (in which Beechwood Children's Home in Nottingham was a featured case study)

  • Councils: Looking at the extent to which Nottingham City Council & Nottinghamshire County Council failed children in their care.

  • Foster Care: Examining failures in the foster care system, lack of oversight into their welfare of children being fostered, lack of proper vetting of foster parents, how foster parents were allowed to continue fostering children despite allegations of abuse against them.

  • Peer-on-peer abuse: How younger children were often sexually & physically abused by older children either in care homes or in foster care. In many cases these older children who were known to have committed sexual offences were placed temporarily in children's homes where they'd then abuse younger children.

The first week of the inquiry was spent listening to abuse survivors, anonymously giving testimony.

Witnesses gave harrowing evidence of their abuse, how they were dismissed as 'liars' and 'fantasists' when they told staff what was happening to them, and how the abuse has affected them throughout their lives.

Many have suffered depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, mental health problems, prison, and relationship breakdowns.

Also giving evidence were former and current members of staff for both Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council.

Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council:

Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council:

Other institutions were also questioned including Nottinghamshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Credit: ITV News Central

"Operation Daybreak" began in 2011 after survivors began to come forward alleging abuse at children's homes in Nottingham.

In 2013, "Operation Xeres" was launched to investigate allegations of abuse in children's homes and in foster care across the whole of Nottinghamshire.

The two operations were later combined into "Operation Equinox".

'Hopefully it's the start of a healing process.'

Victims of historical child sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire give their reaction to the findings of today's report.

If you've been affected by anything you've seen then you can find help and support here...

Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services - Tel: 0115 9410440