Rape, sexual assault, racism, culture of silence: a report published Tuesday, July 27, highlighted the ordeal suffered for decades since the 1960s by children in social services in Lambeth, south London.
According to John O’Brien, secretary of the independent investigation into sexual assault on children (IICSA), this is the worst report among the fifteen produced so far by this body, which has, in particular, investigated the Catholic churches and Anglican as well as the British Parliament. The IICSA was set up in 2015 after a series of scandals of sexual assault on minors involving prominent figures such as BBC presenter Jimmy Saville.
In her report published on Tuesday, she points out that the Lambeth local council has heard of complaints from 705 former residents of three reception centers for acts of rape and sexual assault, but points out that their number is, in fact, most certainly much higher.
The 228-page text highlights that Lambeth Social Services have put “Vulnerable children on the way to adults known or suspected of being perpetrators of sexual violence against children”, who had succeeded in integrating social services.
He cites the example of a man, employed in a foster home, who had hidden in the 1970s that he had been convicted of child sexual assault but was nevertheless able to keep his post so his past was known. He was convicted in 1999 of 34 acts of sexual assault on minors, including two boys taken into the care of Lambeth social services in 1980 and 1983.
The report also highlights the failure of management to act on reports and the fact that employees treated children. “As if they were worth nothing”, showing a “Total contempt” towards them. The text also criticizes the community for having devoted itself more to attacking the government of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, than to dealing with social services. Many witnesses also denounced “Violence, intimidation and racism as part of their daily life”.
It also recommends that the police consider a criminal investigation into the death of a boy who died in 1977, who previously reported sexual assault by an official.
In a statement, London Police said they would look into the matter and presented their mea-culpa. “It is clear that on different occasions we have missed opportunities to identify attackers and investigate further”, said Commander Alex Murray, “We are sorry for the times we have let down the children in Lambeth”.
Scotland Yard highlighted the improvement noted by the report in the way London police are investigating allegations of child sexual abuse and called on anyone who has been victimized to come forward. Lambeth’s board has apologized and accepted all of the report’s recommendations.