Colleton Lodge, Exeter
Council reports on Jimmy Savile allegation
Posted on: 26 February 2015
As part of the follow up to the national inquiry into Jimmy Savile, Devon County Council was asked by the Government to investigate a specific allegation relating to a former council-run children’s home, Colleton Lodge, Exeter, in the early 1980s.
The information had been uncovered as part of a document review undertaken by the Metropolitan Police Service on behalf of the Department of Health.
The allegation of potential abuse was made by a former resident who described hearing screams of another young man in an adjacent room during a visit by Saville and another man to the home in late 1981 or the Spring of 1983.
The abuse was not directly witnessed nor reported to staff at the time.
After a thorough review which included interviews with many former residents and staff, no evidence could be found to corroborate the allegation.
No-one contacted as part of the investigation could recall a visit by Savile to the home and no information could be found in local media archives in relation to a possible visit to Devon by Savile at the times that the alleged incident could have taken place.
Crucially, neither could an alleged victim of abuse be found.
However, the council’s report, published this week, concludes that it is still possible that Savile and another man did visit the former children’s home in March/April 1983 and that sexual abuse or an assault on a resident could have taken place.
The report makes several recommendations relating to the future protection of children in its care.
As a consequence the council is reviewing its current processes regarding the keeping of records for periods dating back longer than fifteen years. It is re-visiting its policy on sanctioned visits by people including celebrities and VIPs to care facilities, and is ensuring that all necessary checks are being made in all appropriate circumstances where staff are involved in disciplinary processes including allegations of breach of safeguarding duties. The council is also to ensure that a dedicated system is in place for recording complaints concerning children in care.
Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for children’s social work, said:
“This has been a serious investigation hampered by the fact that memories fade and records from that time are thin.
“Whilst we could not find the evidence to conclusively corroborate or disprove the allegation, there is evidence to suggest that it is possible that Jimmy Savile could have visited the former children’s home and that abuse could have taken place.
“The safeguarding of children in our care is something we take extremely seriously, and it is vital that we constantly challenge ourselves and learn any lessons to improve things for the future.
“That is why we’ve looked yet again at our current policies in light of this investigation and have recommended actions to tighten them up still further.”