What Went On In The UK’s Institutions? (Part 2)

In Part 1 (HERE) I looked at 3 broad categories of child abuser and why ‘professional’ predatory paedophiles might be tempted to infiltrate certain institutions. In Part 2 I’m going to look at the systemic failures within other organisations which were meant to safeguard children and protect them from people.

We’ll start by stating clearly what is often suggested was to blame but certainly was not.


It was not the case that the general public or the media were apathetic or thought that child abuse was in some way acceptable. There are plenty of reports over the last 5 decades to disprove that odd explanation.

In general terms it was the ignorance of the majority and the complicity of a minority that led to a situation where child abuse within institutions appears to have become systemic. These two factors bleed into each other and it is difficult to separate them so that an explanation is simple and clear but I’ll try.

The majority of the public and those involved directly in institutions had no idea of the sheer scale of child sexual abuse, nor did they understand the potential damage it was creating. They had no idea because the institutions themselves often failed to report them, therefore nobody could really see the bigger picture.

We’ll start with Local Authorities.

Today, there are 433 principal authorities in the UK: 27 county councils, 55 unitary authorities, 32 London boroughs, 36 Metropolitan boroughs, 201 districts, 32 Scottish unitary authorities, 22 Welsh unitary authorities, and 26 Northern Ireland districts. This figure has changed over the decades but it gives you an idea. Each authority has varying responsibilities for foster care, education, children’s care homes and similar children’s institutions.

They weren’t really talking to each other and in many cases they weren’t reporting incidences of alleged child abuse to the police.

Today, there are 44 police forces in England and Wales (including  the British Transport Police) before 1966 there was 117. There is one police force for Scotland, until very recently there were 8. Northern Ireland has 1 police force.

They weren’t really talking to each other and in many cases weren’t notifying Local Authorities of allegations of child abuse that they might have an interest in.

Now, even just understanding this you should be able to see the potential for a massive systemic child safeguarding failure because predatory paedophiles can and do move around the country and each of these almost 500 regional institutions, if they are not communicating, are not going to see the big picture  but it is still more complicated. Let’s look at two examples but please do not think that these are isolated incidences. These examples are representative of the systemic failures which will eventually be exposed.

Michael John Carroll

1) In 1966, he was convicted of indecent assault when he was 18, against a 12-year-old boy in his care at St Edmund’s Orphanage in Bebington, Wirral.

2) In 1978 he took up a post as deputy officer in charge of a children’s home in Lambeth. He took charge in 1980.

(a) Why were Lambeth Council unaware of his previous conviction?

3) Despite the fact that there were allegations of child abuse at Angell Road Lambeth, he was dismissed from Lambeth Council following an investigation into financial irregularities.

(b) So, he left Lambeth Council with no record of his offending with the police. Why ?

4) He then works for another residential care home for boys in Liverpool.

(c) Why wasn’t that Local Authority made aware of both his previous conviction and the Lambeth allegations ?

5) He is eventually convicted in 1999 for child sexual abuse following Operation Care.

Michael John Carroll was convicted of 35 cases (“specimen of a wider range of offending”) 24 indecent assaults, five cases of attempted buggery and five of buggery, and one act of gross indecency against 12 boys, some as young as eight. He was originally charged with 76 offences. How many children were abused because of the failure of authorities to communicate ? How many young lives harmed ?

The case of Michael John Carroll is further complicated by the fact that Police Officers traced 200 victims between 1998 to 2003. A total of 19 suspects were identified including a current member of The House of Lords, a former Labour Minister.

Bearing that in mind some will argue that the answer to question (b) above was that was some kind of political cover-up and I think they’d be right but probably not the kind that most would assume. The political conspiracy theory is still the best explanation for why Clive Driscoll was removed from this investigation after identify the MP in the late 1990s but there is another explanation which goes hand in hand with that for the earlier failure to let Michael John Carroll leave Lambeth without a stain on his character. It is an explanation which helps us to understand the more widespread failure across the country of Local Authorities to report child sexual abuse.

The Jillings Report

In 1994 Clwyd County Council commissioned an inquiry undertaken by a panel headed by John Jillings. The Jillings Report by no means exposes everything that was going on in North Wales care homes, it is the reason why it was not published at the time which is illuminating. It was the Council’s insurance company which made it clear that if the Jillings Report were published, Clwyd County Council would be admitting liability and that the Council would no longer be covered by their insurance policy as a result.

The fact is that insurance companies do not want cases of child sexual abuse to be exposed. Institutions, not just Councils, are dependent on insurance companies to cover the compensation costs that might arise. A situation where systemic child sexual abuse is exposed is not just a political headache for Councils, it is a financial nightmare.

So, in too many cases paedophiles were allowed to just walk away without a stain on their character only to abuse elsewhere. Short term financial prerogatives were put before child safeguarding and considerable long term financial costs to the UK.

This did not just happen in North Wales, it happened right across the country and the financial costs have not diminished with time. This insidious and conflicted relationship between Insurers, who only want to make money,and Institutions, who have responsibility to protect children, will be exposed as soon as the CSA Inquiry is able to compel those institutions to supply evidence.

That will have to do for now. It’s not a complete explanation. I’ll see what else I can add later.





Filed under Abuse, News, Politics

19 responses to “What Went On In The UK’s Institutions? (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: What Went On In The UK’s Institutions? (Part 1) | theneedleblog

  2. There are cases of music schools giving no or minimal support or acknowledgment to past students who were abused in those schools, because they have been advised that to do so will lay the schools open to be sued, because of having admitted responsibility.

    • Thanks Ian. I think if the Inquiry does its job correctly we’ll find that this is a common factor. It’s not just about acknowledgement, it perpetuates it too as the offender is left unrecorded

  3. ” The cover ups will carry on and on” too late they already are..

  4. paul m

    just saw on itv news the journalist saying “victims” were unable or unwilling to corroborate allegations. I fear this could go the way of the Iraqi war crimes inquiry,lots of allegations but nothing proven.

    • Sam

      Please see my comment above on the way that victims are most often bullied into silence.

      In reality, all public services work hand-in-glove to make life extremely difficult, even impossible, for anyone who stands up to report on crime, malpractice, cover-ups etc. The legal process does not protect victims/complainants. Quite the reverse in fact, it does everything it can to undermine anyone who comes forward with serious and evidenced complaints. It is a terrifying ordeal for anyone and worse for those who are already injured or disabled.

      Until you’ve been through the experience or closely engaged with someone who has, you can have no idea what public institutions get up to behind the scenes.

      And then the mainstream media just parrots nonsense like ‘victims are unable/unwilling to corroborate allegations’ without giving a moment’s thought to why that is.

      • Ah the ” so called victims” ..that one , my favourite so fat was from a claire cohen 3rd rate hack who claimed that victims groups were ” dictating” the the terms of the enquiry as if they held a loaded gun to Terry Mays head, overlooking the obvious which is the enquiry was setup on behalf of survivors and not a get together over tea and buns for the panel.

  5. That was great, Gojam – thanks!
    I can think of a few more factors, historic contributing factors of a more general nature rather than specific to the UK situation.
    1) Predjudicial attitudes that rationalized victim-blaming. Ignorant and judgemental attitudes about children in care & their families, about the sexuality of children and youth generally, about gay youth and sexually active girls specifically – held by administrators in a range of relevant fields. This is still a factor today, judging by recent reports on grooming gang victimization. The idea that “morally corrupt” youth, (or even children!), sexually seduce older persons in their lives, and if those older persons are generally “of good character” then they shouldn’t be blamed if their attempts to placate the young vixens happened to “cross the line” a bit. “Yes, the adult shouldn’t have done whatever they did and may even have broken the law, but we all understand that the little sl*t or qu*er was at fault so let’s forgive our colleague and move on” – some would say and have said. No need to mention any of this unpleasantness to future employers…
    2) At the other end of the spectrum, lunatic theories about the dangers of sexually repressed childhoods and the benefits of “natural” sexual development. Way back in the day of Sigmund Freud and the first psychotherapists, theories that linked adult “frigidity” and sexual dysfunctions to the hysterical repression of, and punishment for, their own childhood sexual curiosity were becoming popular. There is some truth to this theory, in some cases, of course. However, parallel theories that the solution to repressed sexuality dysfunction was to encourage fully mature sexual activity by children as soon as they showed any interest in it, or at least that the adults in a child’s life should never, ever interfere in the child’s sex life, were also popularized in the modern era. Obviously, such theories are a goldmine of rationalization for pedophiles and child abusers, who could be expected to exploit them for their own perverted purposes. But such theories were widely held and sincerely believed in many people, particularly in the countercultures of the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s. It’s not true that only pedophiles propagated such lunatic beliefs. And I have no doubt that some child institution staff, believing themselves to be thoroughly modern “progressives”, thought they were helping children in their care to experience “natural sexual development” by ignoring and doing nothing to prevent sexual relationships of any kind, with anyone.

  6. Angela

    I manage a community organisation that is responsible for supporting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. If I found out that there was abuse on my watch, I would go public with any threats by the insurance company to hush it up. Exposing such threats is the best insurance for justice for victims.

    I have eyeballed government bureaucrats and police in situations where they weren’t happy with our stance on a particular issue and the organisation has survived and indeed continues to flourish. If you aren’t prepared to stand up for victims, get another job! I have nothing but contempt for those managers that put their careers before their ethical duty.

    • Deb

      Well said Angela

      • Sam

        Angela, excellent and exceptional job you’re doing. Thank you for your strength.

        I say exceptional because most third sector staff align themselves almost entirely with their local authorities and the police. There’s the threat to funding of course. With most financial support coming from LAs, almost no community project will actually work for the victims they purport to support.De facto, they work to their paymasters’ diktats. In effect, most of the third sector (charities, voluntary and community orgs) has become an arm of the gov. and has chosen which side to actually support.

        Over the years, I’ve seen so many good and effective third sector orgs fall to gov manipulation – from the largest to the smallest in the land – and thus they routinely betray their client base, which painfully compounds service-user’s problems and injuries.

        My whole professional experience is littered with managers (LA, police, NHS, ‘helping’ agencies etc) who absolutely put their own jobs and security way above ethics, doing the right thing and honest-to-goodness compassion for the victims and vulnerable children and adults they are supposed to serve.

        Only recently, a third sector victim support agency staff leader tried to convince me that the disabled man whose savage murderers were jailed for life was at fault for his own murder. I was gobsmacked at the heinous level of victim hatred, total failure of compassion and the the agency’s pathological cognitive dissonance….all engendered by its need to chase public money to secure their own jobs. These people can and do routinely bully victims into terrified silence.

        Given that these managers and their staff are so numerous and powerful, it’s no surprise that, I’d guess, literally 99% of cases are shoved under the carpet, covered up with victims left – quite literally in some cases – for dead instead of being actually helped and supported.

        In fact, as I’ve written in various reports, I consider that most ‘helping’ agencies are little better than job creation schemes for workers who’d struggle to find a job elsewhere.

        But you know all this as well as I do.

        The question is how do we change the dynamics (the dynamics in which the victim is always shoved onto the wrong side against a phalanx of agencies whose #1 priority is toeing the party line to get funding)?

        I’m not a fan of the EU, but one solution could be to have all third sector funding channelled through a central EU/ECJ arm which would impose its own priorities, standards and a relatively higher level of impartiality and independence. It would certainly free the third sector from having to toady up to LAs, the police, social services/NHS et al.

        What is crystal clear now is that public institutions are thoroughly corrupt, certainly in the sense that they have lost their moral compass and do not serve the public.
        If we do not radically alter the way (and not necessarily the amount of funding ) victim support is funded and delivered and instil humane ethics then the cover ups will carry on and on and on.

  7. How many effing times did we read in the press that Jason Swift was “a rent boy ” which was total bollocks, who breifed the press on that ?

    lets think hmmmm…

    Wonder why that stuff went out and what for ?
    jasons poor dad was totally upset about that

    • Sabre

      You already know why that was put out, the possibility that the family although grief stricken may dig and pry can’t be ruled out.

      The answer, hint at shame and the possibility of sharing responsibility for his fate leaves everyone personally involved to want to end the matter in as dignified a manner as possible.

      I know that your question was rhetorical.

  8. Re : Lambeth etc Driscoll was supposed to investigate all that stuff and was leant on by ” strange heavy people ” the lambeth police cell case , the docs on it got destroyed it was considered an ” internal disciplinary matter”

    Are you leaving that stuff out of the equation?

    if Carroll under watch surely the depts he was associated with would have been informed by the met ?

  9. You left out the role of the media and the way the press was being briefed by cops , ie sometimes leaving bits out or playing stuff down or misleading info
    The public knew none the wiser because of what they were told ..

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