“TENS OF MILLIONS OF POUNDS” TO BE PAID OUT BY LAMBETH OVER CHILD ABUSE – “It is now clear that all Shirley Oaks residents were put in harms way” says council leader.
Tens of millions of pounds are to be paid out by Lambeth council to children abused in its care.
A shocking report issued by Shirley Oaks Survivors Association reveals:
- There was a 60-strong paedophile ring operating at the council’s Shirley Oaks homes in Croydon which included Lambeth employees, house parents at Shirley Oaks, football coaches, swimming instructors, teachers, doctors, ex-military, police, priests, vicars, foster carers and volunteers.
- The chilling finding that 48 children died in Lambeth’s care system between 1970 – 1989. The report identifies 20 of these children linked to Shirley Oaks and confirms that they were the victims of sexual abuse at a young age.
- A cover-up operation: Lambeth council destroyed 140 care records during the mid-2000s, despite legislation stipulating all records are left untouched for a further 70 years.SOSA – despite withdrawing from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – say it is continuing to work with the Metropolitan Police and ‘Operation Winter Key’, an investigation pursuing cases against perpetrators still alive.
SOSA say they were issuing a copy of their report to the Metropolitan Police yesterday and that they would be submitting further evidence to aid with their on-going investigation.
In a hard-hitting statement Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth council, said:
“The testimonies we heard today at the launch of SOSA’s report were incredibly moving. “This report shines a light on a period of Lambeth’s history that is very, very dark indeed.
“As the current leader of Lambeth council I make a full and genuine apology for the abuse that people suffered due to failings in the care system. “We’ve taken the decision not to be like past administrations and instead are working openly and constructively with SOSA.
“We have provided the information that was requested for today’s report, funded SOSA’s campaign video to encourage more people to come forward and provided specialist counselling for survivors.
“Our commitment now is to work with SOSA in developing a redress scheme that will allow abuse survivors to secure compensation quickly whilst minimising legal fees.
“In addition to full compensation for physical, sexual and psychiatric harm suffered the proposed scheme includes an ex gratia payment to everyone who attended Shirley Oaks childrens home prior to its closure because it is now clear that all its residents were put in harms way.
“The proposed scheme is expected to potentially pay out tens of millions of pounds to survivors of abuse at Shirley Oaks children’s home prior to its closure in 1983, and other children’s homes in the borough. “We are currently examining how this scheme will be funded.
“I know that money can’t wash away the pain that comes through so vividly in the report, but it’s an issue we know is important and that we are taking extremely seriously. “We have accepted liability for the abuse that was suffered by children at Shirley Oaks and other Lambeth children’s homes.”
Labour MP for Streatham, Chuka Umunna says: “It is a sad indictment of the Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse that the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association did not have confidence in that process, and felt their only choice was to withdraw from that investigation and publish their own report.
“It is a testament to the Shirley Oaks survivors bravery and strength that they have published this report in the search of the justice which they have been denied for far too long.
“I hope the report will bring them closer to the justice they deserve. “To the extent that allegations are made in the report, it is essential that they are now properly investigated and acted on by the police.”
The first demand from the SOSA was that Lambeth council allow all their members and any other children who were in homes in south London to access their files. Reading his own file, Raymond Stevenson, who attended Shirley Oaks from 1967 – 1978 realised that along with the beatings and being drugged, the psychological trauma had impacted his life to the detriment.
But as he conducted more interviews, he soon realised that his strife was nothing compared to many of his friends who suffered in silence and said nothing even when they played outside together.
There were good house parents but they were few and far between and Raymond discovered after speaking to his favourite house parents that those who questioned Lambeth’s failings were quickly moved on.
Note: Lambeth council no longer operates children’s homes following the last of them closing in the 1990s.
Further reading: MP HELEN HAYES ON PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN ( Southwark News 15 December, 2016) http://www.southwarknews.co.uk/comment/mp-helen-hayes-2/