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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Campaigners angry over future inquiry into historic child abuse at care homes in Nottinghamshire

The former Beechwood Care home in Mapperley where abuse is alleged to have taken place. 

      ”The former Beechwood Care home in Mapperley where abuse is alleged to have taken place.” 
Photo: PA
A group of campaigners are angry there won’t be a full independent public inquiry into alleged historic child abuse in Nottinghamshire.
They claim Police and Council bosses are conducting an internal review without the full involvement of survivors.
For months campaigners have been calling for an independent public inquiry into alleged sexual abuse at care homes in Nottinghamshire.
They say the sheer scale of people coming forward, claiming they were abused at care homes across the city and county means it is essential.
David Hollas from the Nottinghamshire Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry Action Group said:
“It would give the survivors their voice. It would give them what we’re looking for which is that cathartic effect. It will begin to establish what the facts are.”
– David Hollas
Recently they thought they’d had a breakthrough after meeting in Nottingham with Police, and the Heads of children’s services from the City and the County Councils.
But instead of discussing the framework of an inquiry, David Hollas claims the authorities told him they were conducting an internal review. A position that’s left some survivors deeply unhappy.
“Because you’re not engaging survivors, it will feed into their narrative that they are continuing to protect their own. And we won’t break through this impasse.”
– David Hollas
But the panel charged with carrying out the independent review says it is committed to finding out what happened at care homes in the county.
“We can assure people that an independent review will soon get underway to ensure that any lessons are learnt from what happened in the past at children’s homes in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, how services at those homes were delivered, and how local agencies have responded to the allegations of abuse.
“Both councils are already undertaking preparatory work which will feed into the review, which will be carried out by the independent Local Safeguarding Children Boards through the well-established Serious Case Review process. Work carried out for this review, as well as the criminal and civil claims processes, is underpinned by substantial information from alleged victims and witnesses.
– Safeguarding Children Board Statement
The former Beechwood Care home in Mapperley where abuse is alleged to have taken place.

<img alt=”The former Beechwood Care home in Mapperley where abuse is alleged to have taken place.”
. Credit: PA
In 2011 Nottinghamshire police launched Operation Daybreak to investigate allegations of historic abuse relating to the former Beechwood Care Home in Mapperley.
In April this year a second investigation, dubbed Operation Xeres, was launched into allegations of historic child abuse at a number of different care facilities in the county.
So far two people have been charged with offences, and are currently being processed through the courts.
Three people are on police bail pending further enquiries. And detectives say they’re currently investigating allegations of abuse by more than 200 people.
Police and Council bosses say they do want more alleged victims to come forward, but that any process mustn’t prejudice the criminal investigation, or undermine the prospect of securing convictions.
Nigel O’Mara disagrees. He represents WhiteFlowers – an organisation which supports and campaigns for the rights of child abuse victims. He believes the decision by the authorities NOT to hold an open public inquiry is a mistake.
“I think they have a fear of interaction. Fearing that it might get out of control. But I don’t think they’ve got anything to fear from us. We really want the same thing at the end of the day. We want a good open and honest enquiry and some good results to come out of it.”
– Nigel O’Mara, WhiteFlowers
Nottinghamshire Police & CRime Commissioner Paddy Tipping. 
Nottinghamshire Police & CRime Commissioner Paddy Tipping.”
Credit: Nottinghamshire Police
Nottinghamshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping agrees survivors should be involved in the process. But says it can’t be rushed.
“At the end of the day, what do survivors want? They want to see people taken to court, found guilty, and go to prison. And we mustn’t engage in a process that threatens that. And there’s a potential of doing that. It’s not impossible. But we need to be careful about it.”
– Paddy Tipping
Others though are impatient. Mickey Summers, who alleges he was abused in a Nottingham city care home in the 1960s, has led protests, calling for an inquiry.
“We will fight relentlessly to the bitter end in the hope that we do get that inquiry. It means so much. Not just to myself, but to the other survivors that have come forward.”
– Mickey Summers
The Police, City & County Councils say that once the initial internal review is complete, a Serious Case Review will then be conducted by a Safeguarding Children Board using independent report authors, panels & chairs.
In a statement they told ITV News News Central:
“We are due to begin liaising with the Goddard Inquiry this month and will ensure that victims are engaged as part of this process and encourage them to make their voices heard.
“We are of course mindful of the need to ensure that the eventual publication of the review’s findings in no way prejudices the criminal investigation’s integrity, or the prospect of securing criminal convictions.”
“We do not shy away from these allegations, and will not rest until we have got to the bottom of what happened in the past.”
– Safeguarding Children Board Statement
Since the police investigation began, many people have come forward to give statements. But for the campaigners, only an independent public inquiry will give a true picture of what really happened.
Last updated Mon 13 Jul 2015