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IICSA Catholic report November 2020

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”) examined the Catholic run schools at Ampleforth and Downside, Ealing Abbey school, and the Diocese of Birmingham. It peered into their responses to child sexual abuse allegations.

The report cites a catalogue of sexual abuse of children, cover ups, protection of accused priests, belittling and threats of children, a refusal to report to the police and resistance to co-operate with the police where in the minority of cases they tried to investigate.

There are many other examples of appalling crimes across the country committed by Catholic priests which were covered up. I have investigated many including St Williams, Market Weighton, Fort Augustus, and St Mary’s College, Blackburn.

The report finds that the Catholic Church organisations failed to support victims of child abuse yet showed a willingness to protect perpetrators and the church’s reputation.

IICSA found the Catholic Church is resistant to external intervention, frequently moved offending priests from parish to parish, school to school or country to country. Throughout there was an unwillingness to alert the police.

There was a failure to act decisively to reports of child abuse. This consigned other children to the same fate.

The church did as little as it could get away with and it managed to cover up a number of cases.

Change has been resistant from the bottom to the top of the organisation. Leadership responses were at best weak. They are characterised by delay, a reluctance to acknowledge responsibility and grudging and unsympathetic attitudes to survivors. Vincent Nichols is singled out as a leader failing to set a good example.

The Inquiry cannot understand the lack of co-operation from the Pope’s ambassador to the UK who refused to speak to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry makes 7 recommendations similar to those made by the UN in 2014 concerning responses to safeguarding complaints and enforcement of internal rules.

In my opinion it is not acceptable for the Inquiry to give the Catholic Church a second or third chance by recommending it tightens up responses for itself.

The IICSA should, in its final report in 2021, recommend the imposition of oversight of safeguarding responses by the creation of an independent body with statutory authority to enforce good safeguarding standards. This is the only way the church will be forced to behave well.

Switalskis Opening statement to IICSA Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation

 

 

THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

_______________________________________________________________

 

Opening on behalf of PACE

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

  1. I represent a third sector organisation called PACE UK “Parents Against Child Exploitation”. It is a charity whose main aims are:

 

  • To enable parents and carers to safeguard and stop their children being exploited.
  • To provide evidence and specialist advice to demonstrate to councils and the police that parents and carers have an essential role in safeguarding.
  • PACE works with parents and partners to disrupt and bring perpetrators to justice.
  • PACE influences national and local policy and practice to reflect the active safeguarding role of parents and the impact on families of child exploitation.
  • PACE sustains long term change by training partners in the active role of parents and carers safeguarding their children.
  • PACE advocates that parents are a major part of the solution and should be central to the system of tackling exploitation.
  • PACE recognises that just as every child is unique, every family’s situation requires an individual response. Consequently PACE offers one-to-one telephone support for parents whose children are being sexually exploited, or for those who are concerned their child is at risk.

 

  1. This organisation’s parent support workers provide independent, non-judgmental and confidential support, which fully recognises the rights of parents in decisions on how to reduce the risk of harm to their children. PACE listens to parents’ concerns, gives information on statutory agencies and procedures and passes on advice from other affected parents, should it be required. PACE never blames parents for what is happening to their child.

 

 

  1. Many local authorities and police and crime commissioning offices fund PACE to provide dedicated support to parents of sexually and criminally exploited children. PACE works in multi-agency teams tackling child exploitation. This enables parents to gain the understanding and support they need about what is happening to their child, share information they have to assist with the police investigation, and strengthen their ability to cope and reduce risks to the child.

 

  1. PACE is currently commissioned in 7 areas: Blackburn with Darwen, Rochdale, North Yorkshire, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield and Liverpool.

 

  1. Evidence shows that where PACE is embedded in the system safeguarding outcomes are much improved with a reduction in missing from home episodes, a reduction in children going into care. This is because parents’ ability to cope is strengthened.

 

  1. A report commissioned by PACE UK and researched by academics Nancy Pike, Maria Langham and Sarah Lloyd was published on 24th January 2020. The report is published on the PACE website.

 

  1. The study involved two parent focus groups of 11 parents and 1 grand-parent who had previously received support from PACE, and in-depth interviews with 20 individual parents. All participants had received support from PACE in the recent past (between April 2016 and March 2018). Key findings are these;

 

  1. Parents initially contacted Children’s Social Care for help when they realised their child was being sexually exploited. The responses they encountered led them to believe that Children’s Social Care services were ill-equipped to deal with this form of exploitation. Parents reported a lack of understanding of child sexual exploitation among Children’s Social Care staff and a failure to address the risks and harms their child was facing. They frequently described the following issues;
  • There were often considerable delays between parents raising their concerns with Children’s Social Care and receiving any response. Delays had ranged from one month to two years with many families waiting over 3 months for an initial assessment.
  • There was a lack of understanding of CSE amongst social care staff who often minimised or dismissed the risks and harms a child was facing.
  • Interventions usually only focused on either the exploited child or the parents. There was little focus on the disruption or prosecution of perpetrators and consequently abuse was able to continue.
  • Parents frequently felt alone in managing the threats to their child and putting safety measures in place. Even when exploitation and abuse escalated and a child’s distress manifested in violent outbursts, depression, self-harm or suicide attempts, parents were mostly left to cope alone.
  • Parents described being treated as ‘inadequate’ or being seen as in some way ‘to blame’ for their child’s exploitation. Some had been offered generic parenting courses, but none had been offered training relating to sexual violence or supporting victims of CSE.
  • There was rarely much attempt by social care staff to engage meaningfully with the exploited child or build a trusting relationship with them.
  • Social care staff displayed little trauma-awareness either in terms of understanding a child’s behaviour or understanding the impact of secondary trauma on other family members. In some instances, parental distress had been interpreted as evidence of an inability to be a good parent.
  • Parents’ difficult relationships with Children’s Social Care depleted their energy and sometimes exacerbated already challenging situations putting their child at even greater risk.
  • Some parents reported having a supportive relationship with an individual member of children’s social care staff, but even where this was the case, they did not feel supported by the Social Care system as a whole.

 

  1. The scene is not entirely negative. By way of positive examples;

 

  1. Alexis Jay’s Rotherham Report has served as a catalyst. Her report on the extent of CSE in Rotherham published 6 years ago in August 2014 was a turning point for many working in the field of CSE. The report laid bare the institutional bias and hostile culture against victims and their families and vindicated everything that PACE had been saying since its inception in 1996.

 

 

  1. In terms of the Government Response to Rotherham, Local Children’s Safeguarding Boards have been given a mandatory duty to tackle CSE.
  2. Child sexual abuse was given the status of “national threat” in the Strategic Policing Requirement so it is now prioritised by every police force.

 

  1. Yet the PACE experience shows that in practice these changes have not translated into good coal face practice. Many practitioners are struggle to get their heads round the complexity of CSE and how to best respond.

 

In the opinion of PACE Social Care are still working to a child protection model based on;

  • Young children not teenagers
  • Abuse within the home not outside
  • Children seen in isolation and not as part of a family, and by implication only professionals can provide solution to CSE
  • PACE sees parents who are traumatised by seeing their child victimised and abused and who want to do everything in their power to help. Yet still they are treated as part of the problem.
  • PACE wants parents recognised as the central resource in the fight against exploitation.

David Greenwood

 

Switalskis IICSA Final submissions to the Lambeth Inquiry

OPENING SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF 27 SWITALSKIS CORE PARTICIPANTS

Introduction

  1. We represent 27 CPs; some of whom will be giving evidence, although the evidence of those not called to give live evidence is equally important. Many have only relatively recently been able to speak in detail about what happened to them.  Many are still coming to terms with what happened to them.
  2. They are relieved that Lambeth Council has accepted responsibility for its failings and for neglecting children in its care and has offered compensatory payment through the redress scheme.  They appreciate the efforts of  SOSA which helped to bring this about and are grateful to other supportive bodies too.

The CPs’ View

  1. CPs welcome this Inquiry and understand its nature and scope: upon institutional responses to allegations of sexual abuse. They have waited a long time for an opportunity to find out why terrible things happened to them.  They wish to contribute.  At the same time some are concerns:
  2. Some worry that the individual wrongs they suffered but which were repeated across decades, will not be put right: wrongs that included social workers who must have seen that something was very wrong with some of the children and failed to act, to the perpetration of appalling abuse and degradation, by identified and unidentified abusers.

 

  1. Some are concerned that the exact numbers and identities of those who perpetrated abuse and the nature and extent of any activities – including how organised they were, might never be fully known but, it is important to shine a light on to what happened, and to be unsparing in doing so and the Core Participants we represent wish to contribute to that and are willing to place their trust in this Inquiry.

Context

  1. Context is important: the late 20th century saw many changes in child- care legislation; child protection and the investigation of crimes against children and that in Lambeth itself, there was political and financial upheaval and mismanagement and, at times, chaos. What they need to know is how it was and why it was that the abuse was able to happen, over decades, when between 1985 and 2003 no less than 20 investigations, Inquires and Inspection Reports were produced relating to children, their care and abuse.
  2. It is also important to recognise that when Lambeth took over responsibility for the children’s homes it inherited from the London County Council when it was created in 1965, children living in them were already being neglected, badly treated and sexually abused. There can be no doubt that paedophiles were operating in the children’s homes and that some, such as Leslie Paul, were doing so not only for their own gratification, but for commercial gain.
  3. As this Inquiry has heard, there have been deaths. One of those was only a baby, aged 11 months who was placed in an inappropriate harness and as a result, asphyxiated.
  4. Why was it, our Core Participants ask, that insufficient attention seems to have been given to the situation in the children’s homes when Lambeth took over, at a time when it was reasonable to expect that there would be, at the very least, a level pf professional curiosity about the circumstances in which children were living?

Themes

  1. Some of the experiences of our CPs were shared by other CPs and some common themes emerge from the experiences of those we represent:

Removal from vulnerable children from family homes was confusing, frightening and traumatic. 

(LA-A299) Aged only 8 he taken into care when left in care of older siblings by a parent who had made a temporary trip abroad for family reasons.

After a night elsewhere he was taken to Shirley Oaks Children’s Home and ended up staying there for just over a year.  No effort appears to have been made to find alternative carers for him from within the extended family.

Once in care, whether in a children’s home or in foster care, with a few exceptions, they experienced:

  • isolation;
  • disregard for culture and religion
  • cruel treatment;
  • exposure to abuse from strangers, from those whose job it was to care for and protect them and even from other children: the complete opposite of the care they needed.

(LA-A321) placed in care at Daisy Cottage, at Shirley Oaks at about age 9 in about 1960.  His mother had died.  No one asked him if he was alright.  The House parents were cold and unfriendly; they would always come and go.

LA-A323.  In early 70’s she was at Shirley Oaks (Musk House).  As a very young child (under 5) she was repeatedly hit by adults around head and legs. She was repeatedly told by the house mother she was nothing, wanted by nobody, was bad and a bastard child, unloved and unwanted. No love was shown.

LA-A299, a Muslim child, had to eat pork.  LA-A299 sexually assaulted by a Dr under the pretext of a standard examination.    He was also bullied by older boys and nothing was done.

He had had a nice SW, but another one took over who was not interested and barely talked to him, failing to notice how he was becoming withdrawn.

LA-A327 was told by staff at Cumberlow Lodge (1970s) that her parents didn’t love me and that was the reason I was there.

Paedophiles such as Michael John Carroll were manipulative and sophisticated.  He sexually abused LA-A181.  At one stage LA-A181 went home under a care order and the abuse it continued, as Carroll had befriended and “groomed” his father by doing favours for him.  Carroll was later convicted in 1999 of indecent assault but at that earlier stage there was no escape for LA-A181.

Children from BAME backgrounds suffered racial abuse.  Sometimes the abuse was both racist and sexual.  Before going on to sexually abuse her,  the man who ran Lavender House, part of Shirley Oaks, told LA-A309 that most children of mixed parentage ended up in care and that races were not supposed to mix.  Efforts were made to dissuade her from attending a mass at Christmas by a staff member who said the bible forbid mixed relationships – so she couldn’t even take comfort in God.

Later his language changed to refer to her as “exotic”, informed, I suggest, by stereotypes about black women and girls as overly sexual.  Some were targets for the worst kinds of sexual depravity.

The idea of culturally appropriate placements was introduced in Lambeth in late 1986.  One of the CPs we represent, LA-A304, of mixed ethnic heritage, had suffered sexual abuse in one care home before being placed with a white family.  She where she was happy and felt well looked after.  After she left there, once the same race policy had begun to be implemented, she was moved to another city, she believed by Lambeth, and told she “had to be placed with a black family” where she was bullied, beaten, not fed properly and told she was “possessed”.   While the aims were laudable, and may have been successful in some cases, this was not always so.  In this case, the policy seems to have been prioritised over what the child needed, suggesting a rather simplistic approach to children’s cultural needs.

Another theme: while convictions have been achieved, much of the time children were too frightened to complain; if they did, there was either no response at all and they were ignored, there was a bare acknowledgment or they were dismissed as liars and complaints were not followed up.

When LA-A307 was about 9, in the early 1960s, in the sick bay at Shirley Oaks, he awoke to see a man by the bed masturbating,  When he told the matron or nurse the next day he it was dismissed as a bad dream.  It happened again, only this time he was assaulted.  He complained and was told to “stop this nonsense.

LA-A299 sexually assaulted by a Dr under the pretext of a standard examination and bullied by older boys.  When he complained about the Dr, he was told he wouldn’t have to see him alone again, but the Dr continued to work there.  The bullying from older boys worsened and progressed to a serious sexual assault.  LA-299 was unable to tell anyone.

I was scared, felt dirty and felt as though it was my fault.”  He felt he had no one to turn to.

 

LA-A300 was abused by Leslie Paul.  In the late 1980s she agreed to be interviewed by Lambeth Council about Paul.  She told them what had happened and believed that

She was being listened to, but a few weeks later she was written to and warned that she would be taken to Court for slander if I ever repeated the allegations again.  She was not listened to or believed and received no support.

 

On another occasion the Council went to her home to interview

Her about her time in care and abuse.  She discussed this with them but never heard anything back afterwards.  This left her feeling as if she was part of a tick box exercise.

 

LA-A327 was suffered sexual abuse from boys at Calais Street CH.  During one such

occasion when she was aged 14 or 15 A staff member walked in when one was in bed with her but his only reaction was to tell the boy to get out and nothing was done.

 

While at South Vale in the mid-1970s when she was aged 12, LA-A309 witnessed

another child being sexually assaulted.  When she reported it to staff she was told

not to mention it again, “we are dealing with it.”  She didn’t hear any more about it.

Later, after complaining about sexual by LA-F33, she was interviewed in the same room as the man she alleged had sexually abused her.

 

Failure to provide proper education is another theme. 

Children’s education was neglected and time was lost, especially for those who struggled with literacy.

Support for leaving care

When they left the care system many had no or very little practical or psychological support on leaving.  Some survivors left homeless; others were left in sub-standard and unsafe accommodation with no guidance of how to live independently or budget.  More than one took an overdose in a suicide attempt rather than face bleak reality.  In effect, they were left to fend for themselves.

It is hardly surprising that some turned to alcohol or drugs to help them cope, to block out what had happened.

Questions on behalf of the CPs

  1. And it is these sorts of experiences that they ask you to keep in mind:
  2. Whether there has been a Conspiracy of silence; whether there was a large-scale, organised network of paedophiles; the conditions under which children suffered appalling, degrading and caused long term harm to them and their families were already in place:
  • why were paedophiles able to continue as they did and to flourish?
  • why were those who were supposed to protect children so apparently indifferent to them?
  1. The CP’s are hoping for some clear answers.
  2. Many wonder if they were ignored; disbelieved and treated with indifference and worse, because of who they were, once they became the responsibility of the state as children in care who came from families who faced a number of difficulties:
  • who lacked resources;
  • who came from were abusive or neglectful backgrounds;
  • who were working class;
  • who were from a black or minority ethnic background;
  • or who were simply unfortunate enough to end up in care.

 

  1. They want to know how anyone can be confident that with this history and these experiences, things will be different in future?
  2. This is not a problem confined to Lambeth. There are recent examples in which the institutional response to complaints of abuse has been inadequate, for example, in Rotherham.
  3. Michael John Carroll, a schedule 1 offender (that is a person whose offence is listed in schedule 1 the CYPA 1933 as a warning that any such offender could cause a particular risk to children) was able to obtain a job with Lambeth, work to manager level and was able with his wife, to apply to foster children. Even when his offending was discovered by another LA, he was left in post for some    Was this:
  • a failure to appreciate the significance of the previous conviction for indecent assault on a male under 16.
  • wilful blindness and neglect when it came to children in care?
  • was there a willingness to play down the significance of clear evidence he was a risk to children? If so why? Was it simple arrogance? Or more?
  1. The experience of many of the CPs we represent has been that that if they dared to complain, the starting point, the assumption seems to have been that any allegation they made was untrue. As if they were less worthy of being believed than other people.It is no exaggeration to say that although the late 20th Century has seen a raft of legal and social reforms in relation to children, what happened to these children has parallels in the 18th and 19th centuries when we had slavery and child labour: Children were penned or contained, rather than properly homed; Kept in ignorance, rather than properly educated Abused and neglected rather than nurtured and cared for; ignored rather than listened to.  Treated as less then human.  It is a scandal and a source of shame that this could have happened.

 

  1. That the state’s ability in the form of the LB Lambeth to care for its most vulnerable citizens has been found grievously wanting is not in issue, but to prevent this happening again, our CP’s feel that a different approach is required and hope that once Inquiry has heard the evidence; and once some of them have been able to tell their stories you will reflect, consider and take this opportunity to make strong recommendations for the changes that are clearly required.

 

End

 

 

 

IICSA Accountability and Reparations closing submissions from David Greenwood

INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Accountability and Reparations Hearing

November 2018 to December 2018

 

Closing Statement by David Greenwood on behalf of Core Participant Peter Robson

  1. Mr Robson is a survivor physical and sexual abuse at The Stanhope Castle School, having been sent there at the age of 11. He describes it as a brutal place which has left him hating himself and as we saw from his evidence has left him with great difficulties in relating to others. He has diminished life chances, received a poor education and is deserving of compensation. He gave evidence to the police after 2013 but was told that his abuser could not be traced. He was advised by the police to seek Criminal Injuries Compensation and did so when he became aware of this Inquiry and was advised to do so by Howe & Co. His Criminal Injuries Compensation Application has been refused and it is only after a review that he has recently been awarded Criminal Injuries Compensation.
  2. He has been advised on a potential Civil Claim but at present feels that the process would be so long, complicated and arduous that he does not wish to put himself through it.
  3. Quite apart from apologies and bringing abusers and those who have enabled them to account this Inquiry has revealed serious deficiencies with our compensation system.
  4. Criminal Compensation Orders through the Criminal Courts are rarely ordered by Judges.
  5. Criminal Injuries Compensation is difficult to access. Form filling puts off the uneducated. Lawyers take a cut. Time limits are usually invoked by the Criminal Injuries Compensation. Convictions (often brought about as a result of responses to abuse and bad treatment in childhood) are used to defeat applications. Review and Appeal procedures are complicated and time limited. There is no integrated system of support. There is no free advice service.
  6. Civil Compensation are inherently difficult. Changes to the Law in 2013 mean that Lawyers again take a cut and Legal Aid is usually unavailable. Limitation Laws are interpreted by inexperienced Judges who have absolute discretion. Most Defendants fight cases by using Limitation as a weapon. There have been no moves by Parliament to change the system. Claimants’ credibility is attacked during the exploration by Defendants of prejudice. To even consider that prejudice to a Defendant could outweigh the prejudice to a Claimant survivor of child sex abuse of not being able to bring a claim does claimants a massive injustice. The legal bar on limitation should be scrapped. It has caused substantial confusion and unnecessary misery. Claims should be decided on whether the abuse occurred. To add further insult psychiatrists unsympathetic to Claimants are deployed to attack Claimants’ credibility.
  7. Success is often dependent on which insurer an institution is insured with. Lambeth, Liverpool, National Children’s Home and Devon Council settled their cases. Conversely RSA rarely settle cases unless they have exhausted all legal avenues.
  8. The process is attritional. Many hear about it like Mr. Robson and decide not to pursue it. Many drop out during the process.
  9. Overall it is a lottery as to which opponent is insured with which insurance company and also a lottery in terms of the attitude of the Defendant. Councils tend to see the justice in recognising that compensating victims should be a priority. Insurers generally don’t There are exceptions such as Ecclesiastical and sometimes Zurich. It should be said that the quality of claimant lawyers also varies.
  10. All this is confusing to claimants. It needs to be simplified. The system is not fair. It needs to be fair
  11. The solution is for the establishment of a scheme which incorporates the following features;
    1. The eligibility for compensation is decided on the balance of probabilities.
    2. Time limits will not be in play.
    3. Damages are assessed broadly, taking into account how life chances have been affected.
    4. Claimants can be signposted to good local support agencies and support can be paid for and provided quickly.
    5. The abuser or the institution will pay for the compensation paid to the Claimant.
    6. Where non-institutional abuse is considered, payments will be underwritten by the Government (these cases falling out of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme).
    7. Lawyers will be paid to advise on cases and help guide Claimants through the process.
    8. There will be an appeals system.
    9. Institutions will be required to consider providing an apology and will be required to make a statement of what steps are now in place to prevent child abuse in their organisation.
    10. The Body will have the power to compel disclosure of evidence.
    11. Claimants will have the option of taking their case through the Civil Courts but without double recovery.
    12. I have put together a draft scheme which will be emailed to the Inquiry Solicitors for distribution.  I hope you will read and consider the draft.
    13. David Greenwood
    14. 12 December 2018