Children who said they were abused in Leicestershire were "simply not listened to"

Children who said they were abused at residential care homes in Leicestershire in the 1970s and 1980s were "simply not listened to" by senior staff, an inquiry has heard.

Leicestershire County Council chief executive John Sinnott told the IndependentInquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that procedures for dealing with complaints were "inadequate".

However, he said new improvements to child protection in the region meant the system was "unrecognisable" now compared with decades earlier.

Sinnott was giving evidence into the strand of the long-running inquiry examining how council staff, the police and care home employees responded to allegations that the late Labour peer Lord Janner abused young boys in care.

Allegations against the former Leicestershire MP first emerged publicly in the trial of disgraced care home boss Frank Beck in 1991, although the Sir Richard Henriques report in 2016 found that failures by police and prosecutors meant three chances were missed to charge Lord Janner, in 1991, 2002 and 2007.

Lord Janner, who had Alzheimer's, died in December 2015 while awaiting trial for 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences, relating to nine different boys, dating back half a century.

He denied the allegations.

Mr Sinnott told the inquiry: "I formed the opinion ... that the complaints were simplynot listened to in the way you would expect them to be listened to. Senior management did not take a serious grip of, clearly, a problem."

The inquiry heard Mr Sinnott describe how the council, which stopped operatingchildren's homes in 2018, accepted that its procedures for detecting andresponding to abuse within residential children's homes in the period betweenthe 1960s and 1980s were "inadequate".

But he cited a raft of improvements, such as Ofsted inspections, that meant thesituation was "very, very different" now.

Vast swathes of evidence have been heard behind closed doors since the "Jannerresponses" strand of the inquiry opened on October 12, amid concerns evidencecould lead to the identification of sexual abuse complainants.

The inquiry is due to conclude at the end of next week.

Read more: