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Switalskis IICSA summary week 3

INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – CHILDREN IN THE CARE OF LAMBETH COUNCIL INVESTIGATION

 

Week 3 – 20th July 2020 – 24th July 2020

Brief overview of witness evidence 23rd – 24th July

Day 14 – Thursday 23rd July

Commander Alex Murray – MPS

Commander Alex Murray has been a servicing police officer for 23 years and has performed roles in most ranks within the police service.

His statement deals with specific matters raised by the Inquiry which are; the development of MPS policies and procedures in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation; and the current approach taken by the MPS to allegations of child sexual abuse and child exploitation.

James Bowler – Ministry of Justice  

 

Helen Kenward – Children in Lambeth Children’s Home Enquiry (CHILE)

 

Lord Paul Boateng

 

Day 15 – Friday 24th July 202

Stephen Bubb – Vice Chair, Social Services Committee, Lambeth Council

Mr Stephen Bubb was elected a Councillor for Clapham Old Town in Lambeth in May 1982. In 1983 he became the Vice-Chair of Social Services and subsequently Chief Whip.

In his statement Mr Bubb provides details of the way of the subcommittee and the way that it operated. He discusses the training and the Role of Councillors, the Brixton Riots and the consequences. He discusses the decision making and conflict on matters such as secure accommodation, fostering and adoption during the period he was employed by Lambeth.

Chris Hussell – Former Social Worker for Lambeth Council.

Chris Hussell was a social worker, and subsequently a Team Leader, in Lambeth in the early 1970’s. He left Lambeth in 1984 to take up another role.

Within his statement he discusses the culture of Lambeth Council and specific events that he was involved in during the period he was employed by Lambeth.

Joan Twelves – Former Lambeth Counsellor (leader of the Council)

Joan Twelves was an elected member of Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1994. She was the leader of the council between 1989 to 1991. She was medically retired in 1994

She discusses her experience in these roles.

Stephen Whaley – Councillor in Lambeth Council 1986-1994 

Stephen Whaley was a Councillor and Chair of Social Services Committee. We have already provided you with a summary of his witness statement which discusses, in detail, the poor state of the Council as a whole and the implications that this had upon the protection of children.

Detailed Summary of Evidence  

Commander Alex Murray – MPS

Summary of the witness evidence provided by Commander Alex Murray.

Commander Alex Murray has prepared this statement to deal with a number of matters related to specific investigations carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service.

Commander Alex Murray has been a servicing police officer for 23 years and has performed roles in most ranks within the police service. His current role is the lead of Central Specialist Crime Operational Command Unit, two of its functions are 1) vulnerability (including Child Sexual Exploitation and Operation Winter Key) and 2) Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

His statement deals with specific matters raised by the Inquiry which are; the development of MPS policies and procedures in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation; and the current approach taken by the MPS to allegations of child sexual abuse and child exploitation.

First Commander Alex Murray confirms that the exact remit of; and introduces Operation Winter Key Investigation in that it is to ‘investigate criminal allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse referred to the MPS through IICSA/Operation Hydrant or by other reports or referrals to the MPS where a the allege abuse took place before 2012’;

 

  1. By people of prominence in public life,
  2. In the context of educational or religious organisations, where it would appear that there is repeated institutional failings.
  3. Within Local Authority premises or within voluntary organisations, where it would appear that there is repeated institutional failings.
  4. Within national and private service organisation (such as the BBC), where it would appear that there is repeated institutional failings or
  5. As otherwise agreed by the Gold Commander.

 

Operation Winter Key has also taken the responsibility for investigating complaints and allegations of police misconduct arising from MPS investigations of, or responses to non-recent child sexual abuse falling within the above criteria. Operation Winter Key refers any such cases of alleged misconduct to the IOPC.

Commander Alex Murray makes this statement in his capacity as the Commander with responsibility for Operation Winter Key

He discusses the general development of policy and practice between 1963 and 2016.

He confirms that based on the information available which suggests that specialist child abuse teams only began operating within with MPS in 1988. Information suggests that child abuse sexual abuse offences were dealt with by the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) between 1963 and 1988.

He confirms that the approach to the investigation of child sexual abuse allegations changed in 1988 when the CPT (Child Protection Teams) were introduced to the MPS. The aim of the new CPT was to investigation allegations or suspicions of children abuse with the investigations to be conducted within a ‘multi-disciplinary approach (i.e. jointly with social workers from the relevant Social Services Department or with representatives from other agencies).

He discusses the current approach to Child Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation from 2016 to present.

He provides details regarding the PNC (Police National Computer), PND (Police National Database), the CRIS (Crime Reporting Information System); ViSOR (Violent and Sex Offenders Register), the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).

He then goes on to discuss the current approaches to information-sharing and the process available to police officers.

He discusses the training of officers investigating Child Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation in that since 2005 all new police officer recruits have received training of child protection and safeguarding and that since 2015 new police officer recruits have received training on the following; safeguarding children, which includes training on their responsibilities under the Children Act 2004; child sexual exploitation and missing persons.

This training aims to enable new police officers joining the MPS to; take appropriate and proportionate action when they identify a safeguarding issues; to recognise child sexual exploitation; to respond effectively to reports of the same and to effectively investigate and report cases where a person has gone missing. He discusses the specialist training which is now also provided to officers, this is subject to continuous review and improvement.

James Bowler – Ministry of Justice  

Helen Kenward – Children in Lambeth Children’s Home Enquiry (CHILE)

Lord Paul Boateng

Stephen Bubb – Vice Chair, Social Services Committee, Lambeth Council

Summary of the witness evidence provided by Stephen Bubb

Mr Stephen Bubb was elected a Councillor for Clapham Old Town in Lambeth in May 1982. In 1983 he became the Vice-Chair of Social Services and subsequently Chief Whip. However along with 32 other colleagues he was disqualified in April 1986 for refusing to implement major cuts to their budgets.

Mr Bubb provides his personal and professional background.

Within his statement he discussed the Committee System in Lambeth which as the Vice-Chair of Social Services, he sat on all sub committees, included the cases subcommittee. He confirms that he was not involved in setting up the subcommittee as this was already established when he came into post.

He confirms that the subcommittee of social services examined individual cases focusing on the statutory duties of the council for children and young people in care, fostering and adoption, the cases of the subcommittee received recommendations from officers or from the adoption panel.

He confirms that at the time local councils had more powers and duties in relation to the legislation concerning children, but that over time these council social service powers have gradually been reduced. The cases subcommittee was there to consider cases in more detail such as secure accommodation, fostering and adoption than would have been possible in the main social services committee.

In his statement Mr Bubb provides details of the way of the subcommittee and the way that it operated. He discusses the training and the Role of Councillors, the Brixton Riots and the consequences. He discusses the decision making and conflict on matters such as secure accommodation, fostering and adoption.

Mr Bubb confirms that he did not know Michael Carroll or his wife. He believes that he was not made aware that Mr Carroll had a conviction for child sexual abuse nor did he know that they had made an application to foster children.

Chris Hussell – Former Social Worker for Lambeth Council.

Summary of the witness evidence provided by Chris Hussell.

Chris Hussell was a social worker, and subsequently a Team Leader, in Lambeth in the early 1970’s. He left Lambeth in 1984 to take up another role.

He discusses the culture at the council which he describes as ‘liberal/progressive and innovative’ and he talks of how the staff were ‘open minded and non-judgemental’. He explains that it was not until the mid-1980’s that they (likely to be referring to social services/ workers) became aware of paedophilia and that he became aware of the ‘devious and manipulative nature of paedophiles and the need to adopt a more sceptical approach’. He discusses how prior to this he took people at face value.

He does not recall any investigations during the time he was employed. He discusses difficulties in the relationship that Lambeth social care had with the police in that here was a strong difference in culture.

He then goes on to discuss events that he was specifically involved in which relates to the alleged abuser LA-F36, who was dismissed from his position in 1982. The child, then an adult, involved later took his own life. Prior to this they had made a statement to police in 1999. Chris Hussell states that he was no aware of any allegations until he was interviewed by police in 1999.

Chris Hussell discusses how in hindsight it could be considered that they were ‘naïve and too trusting’.

Joan Twelves – Former Lambeth Counsellor (leader of the Council)

Summary of the witness evidence provided by Joan Twelves

Joan Twelves was an elected member of Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1994. She was the leader of the council between 1989 to 1991. She was medically retired in 1994.

Within her statement she discusses the difficulties being faced by the Labour party in the mid-1980s and how many councillors were disqualified from Lambeth due to issues surrounding rate-capping. She describes how 37 of the 40 councillors elected were brand new which caused difficulties as the calibre of experience was mixed.

She discusses how her own interests, experience and expertise were focussed on housing, women’s rights and employment issues rather than social services.

She describes it as a miracle that the elected members of the council were able to survive the turmoil and that the government didn’t intervene. She describes political upheaval.

Joan Twelves discusses how the overall dysfunctional corporate management combined with the elected members collective inexperience may have allowed unacceptable occurrences and practices to go unnoticed and unpunished.

She then goes on to discuss her experience as leader of the council during the years 1989-91. She describes trying to heal many rifts which had developed over the previous three years. She describes shaking up and strengthening corporate management and how she introduced a new regime of prudent financial management. She provides evidence of her progress such as comments from the District Auditor who describes ‘real progress’.

Twelves discusses the effectiveness of Councillors and how some were more effective than others, conflict between Councillors and Officials and industrial action in children’s homes between 1983 and 1984, the ‘same race’ policy  Carroll and the Appleby Report.

She closes her statement acknowledging that not everything she did was done perfectly and she apologises for any mistakes she may have made. She acknowledges that the Council could  have improved about the manner in which they served.

She states ‘it is of great regret to me that I was unable to effect those lasting improvements which I had sought to create.

Stephen Whaley – Councillor in Lambeth Council 1986-1994

Summary of the witness evidence provided by Stephen Whaley:

Mr Whaley provides a statement discussing his role as a Councillor of Lambeth and subsequently as Chair of Social Services Committee. He was a Councillor between 1986 and 1994.

He described how most Council’s at the time were not employed as Councillors and therefore undertook duties in their spare time whereas today the Lambeth Council Leaders and those Cabinet Members are given salaries to enable them to work full-time.

He discusses in detail how there was effectively open warfare in the Council’s Management Team during the time that he was a Councillor. He discusses the culture at the time being difficult due to the political situation and how trade unions had a great deal of influence. He describes major issues facing the Council including the state of the Council’s finances. He describes how the Council’s finances were in an appalling state which led to decisions to close social services and that it had always been expensive.

He notes there are a number child protection issues that he had concerns and he goes onto detail specific instances relating to possible sexual abuse of children. He discusses how he was involved in the setup of the Clough inquiry which investigated events surrounding Michael John Carroll and how he in particular always wondered why Carroll had not been sacked in 1986 and believes the decision not to do so was wrong.

He discusses how when he was the Chair of Social Services he believed he had a reasonable professional working relationship with David Pope. He feels that with hindsight David Pope was selective about the information he provided to Mr Whaley. He notes that when the Clough Report was published David Pope’s employment was not questioned. He believes that this may have been because there was a state of paralysis with there having been three Chief Executive’s within three months.

He describes the major institutional conditions at that time plus the events at Monkton Street and Ivy House.

He goes on to discuss how the many reports recommended change and that Council Officers failed to follow through important recommendations in relation to the protection of children against child sexual abuse. He discusses how there was cross party concern that the commissioning of reports was not achieving any real changes and recommendations.

He also discusses the employment of unqualified social workers.

Ultimately his view is that the Council was in meltdown which impacted its ability to protect children in care homes and foster care homes.

End

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