IICSA reports finds Nottingham and Nottinghamshire councils did not investigate abuse claims properly

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a report into the treatment of children in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County councils from the 1960s.

The inquiry heard that hundreds of children were sexually abused by foster carers and residential home staff and that sexualised behaviour of the staff was “tolerated or overlooked”.

The inquiry received about 350 complaints dating back to the 1960’s and has said it was the biggest number of allegations of child sexual abuse for any of its investigations.  They heard about rape and violence and that there were repeated failures to learn from mistakes which led to more young people being exposed to harm.

The report makes specific mention of a number of care homes, including Beechwood Community Home in Mapperley, whose staff were said to be “threatening and violent”, with sexualised behaviour towards children “tolerated or overlooked, allowing abusers to thrive”.

The report also recognised that some foster carers were allowed to carry on looking after vulnerable children even after they were “known perpetrators”.  Tragically, some of those “known perpetrators” went on to abuse children again.

Both Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council have since made public apologies.  However, the IICSA panel did report that a city council leader had been quoted as saying the authority “will apologise when there is something to apologise for”.  The panel recognised that these comments were “crass and caused avoidable upset”.

I am a specialist child abuse lawyer and have represented many survivors of abuse.  The scale of abuse in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the findings of this report are extremely shocking.  I have talked to many people who experienced abuse whilst under the care of the authorities in Nottinghamshire and whilst the apologies will go some way to helping them it does not recognise the full extent of the harm caused.  We are still facing legal defences to survivors’ request for redress where the authorities take the position that they are not prepared to accept the survivor’s account of the abuse as there is no evidence in the records or convictions and that the claims are being brought too late.

From the report it is apparent that both councils took very different approaches to the IICSA but I would hope that they now work together to acknowledge, apologise and provide redress and support to survivors for what are clearly systemic, institutional failures on a massive scale.