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.