Young girl sexually abused by her father after public agencies missed opportunities to protect her

Several factors led to the registered sex offender being able to commit crimes against his own daughter Credit: PA

A registered sex offender groomed and abused his own daughter for months in Coventry after public agencies failed to properly assess his contact with her following his release from prison.

The victim, who is not named for legal reasons, was a teenager at the time of the abuse by her father.

He had been jailed for grooming and having sex with another girl.

A Local Safeguarding Review published by Coventry City Council last year highlighted the scale of the abuse.

Several factors led to the registered sex offender being able to commit crimes against his own daughter.

The Offender Assessment System classed him as only 'medium risk' and not a danger to his biological children.

The report said this helped influence how local agencies dealt with his release from prison and that it should have been challenged.

Failings by Coventry City Council's Children Services were also noted:

  • The authority didn't carry out a Children and Family assessment as it should have done before contact was re-established between the victim and her father. This would have alerted the family to the severity of the father's crimes and helped them make a more informed choice about seeing him again.

  • A later Children and Family assessment was criticised in the report as "superficial." By this point, the victim's father had been buying her 'gifts' of money and alcohol, and spending time with her alone in her room.

  • The council's assessment, signed off by a senior practitioner, concluded that his visits could remain unsupervised.

  • None of the assessors spoke to the victim's father, and relevant history - such as his previous domestic abuse of the victim's mother - was not taken into account.

Coventry Council Credit: Coventry Council

The review stated: "There is a lack of oversight on the closure of the case and it was apparent that the full nature of the index offence and risk was not effectively assessed or considered."

That year, the victim reported suffering from low mood and was referred to mental health services.

Then in early 2020, the sexual abuse started.

The victim ended up staying with her abuser a few days of the week, and over lockdown was with him for weeks.

It was only towards the summer that she was able to recognise what was happening was abuse and speak out about it.

Asked in the report what single thing would have made the biggest difference for her, the victim said: "For people to make more checks and not to close the case.

"If someone had just checked up on me once a month, that would have helped. There needs to be more precautions."

Coventry Council's Children Services are currently rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted.

There were 141 statutory complaints about the service in 2020-21, according to a report prepared for a council Cabinet meeting last month.

This is a small decline from the previous year but still above average for the authority.

Complaints were mainly about poor communication and concerns over standards of service.

Councillor Peter Male, Group deputy leader of the Coventry Conservative Party, said these two themes are "sadly familiar, and continue to detract from the hard work of so many within the service".

"It is pleasing to see the number of compliments received during 2020/21, particularly when considered against the backdrop of the pandemic," he added.

The authority announced last year that it would be giving its children's social care service a cash injection of £5.5 million - and new specialised Child Sexual Abuse Practice Leads have been introduced.

The report concluded with recommendations for the Council's Children Services, the Coventry Safeguarding Children Partnership, the National Probation Service and West Midlands Police.

Cllr Male told the Local Democracy Reporting service that he wants to see these types of serious cases discussed more openly by the Council.

He said: "As Shadow Cabinet Member for Children's Services, I have asked that Serious Case Reviews be considered through a transparent, scrutiny board process.

"If Coventry City Council has made mistakes, however difficult it may be to hear, we must discuss them in public without fear or favour.

"Achieving a 'Good' grade from Ofsted must come about because we have genuinely improved outcomes for young people in our city, not because we have 'managed' difficult situations."

A spokesperson for the Coventry Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: "Safeguarding Practice Reviews allow facts to be gathered about how organisations have worked individually and together in cases where a child has suffered harm, and recommendations are made to improve practice and better safeguard children.

"This is a difficult and complex case raising a number of important issues.

"A wide-ranging review has taken place into our contact with the family, and we will look at all our working practices to see if any improvements can be made.

 "The safeguarding of children is our absolute priority. We strive to continually learn and improve to get the very best outcomes for young people and we will work with partners to embed recommendations into our practice."


Help and support

If you need support or advice about anything visit our advice page.

Call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 for confidential, non-judgemental information and support.

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Contact a local domestic abuse service by using the Domestic Abuse Directory.

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