Skircoat Lodge Children’s Home, Halifax, West Yorkshire
The purpose of Operation Screen was to examine sexual abuse allegations and other concerns within Calderdale Social Services and Residential Children’s Homes. Skircoat Lodge Observation and Assessment Centre was the main focus, however some investigations were conducted into Mixenden Childrens Home and Dobroyd Castle School. The terms of reference restricted enquires to allegations of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse perpetrated by carers who worked at residential care homes in Calderdale or others in authority with or toward children in their care.
Child carers jailed for despicable sex crimes
Published on Wednesday 21 November 2001 11:31
TWO ex children s home workers have been jailed for a total of 22 years after repeatedly abusing children in Malcolm Osric Phillips Shalders.
Malcolm Osric Phillips (68) who headed Skircoat Lodge children s home, Halifax and Andrew James Shalders (54) who was a social worker there were convicted of child abuse and sentenced at Bradford Crown Court following two separate trials, one of which was held in August and one which concluded yesterday.
Shalders, of Featherstall Road, Littleborough, Rochdale, denied over 30 charges of buggery, indecent assault and indecency with a child. All the offences were against males.
He was jailed for 15 years after he was found guilty of 22 of the offences and acquitted of a further 14.
Phillips, of Lincolnshire, denied 29 charges of indecent assault, indecency with a child, rape and buggery against 10 complainants – all female.
He was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of 16 offences of indecent assault and two offences of committing an act of indecency with a child.
He was acquitted of a further four offences of indecent assault, one of rape and one of buggery. Five other charges, including an offence of rape, will lie on the file. Reporting restrictions on the Shalders case were lifted yesterday after Phillips was sentenced.
Neither of the two men showed any sign of remorse as Judge Rodney Grant passed their terms of imprisonment.
Speaking to Shalders he said: “The offences are grave, wicked and despicable and it is hard to imagine a more gross breach of trust.
“You betrayed the trust placed in you by the public. You betrayed the trust these children were entitled to place in you. You used your position to gratify your sexual desires.”
In the case of Shalders, the offences took place between 1976 and 1988 and one of the complainants told the jury that when he was 15-years-old, Shalders took indecent pictures of him on the premise that he would reunite the boy with his brothers.
When passing sentence in the Phillips case, Judge Rodney Grant said: “It is clear that in your professional life you gave the reputation of being a carer of difficult children, that you were respected by those that worked in the same field as you and we have heard witnesses during this trial referring to you as charismatic and a person whose advice was valued.
“That appears to have been your public face but you also had another side, a darker side, a side which seems to have been hidden from the general public.
“You had a position of great responsibility. I have referred already to the esteem in which you were held and that increased the responsibility you owed to the children in your care and the public at large.
“You breached that trust, you breached the trust placed in you by the general public and the children that were placed in your care were entitled to have.
“You exploited their vulnerability for your own sexual gratification.”
A 34-year-old complainant in the case, who watched from the public gallery, broke down as Judge Grant passed sentence.
Malcolm Osric Phillips (68)
Phillips arrived in Calderdale from Birmingham in 1976.
He had been housemaster for four years at an establishment for boys aged 12-17.
He qualified on a training course for social workers and took up the post of principal at Skircoat Lodge in 1976.
He remained there until 1994.
He was dismissed by Calderdale Council in 1996.Andrew James Shalders (54)
Shalders arrived in Calderdale in 1976 and took up the post of care worker at Skircoat Lodge.
18 months later he was appointed senior residential social worker.
In 1985 he was suspended after allegations were made by a number of boys but was reinstated a month later.
In 1988 he moved from Children s Services to Adult Services and worked with people with learning difficulties.
He was arrested in December 1997 and suspended by Calderdale Council.Child Abuse Statistics:
In March 1999, 31,900 children were on Child Protection Registers in England
Of these, 21 per cent were registered for sexual abuse
95 per cent of children calling Childline about abuse know their abuser
Approximately 90 per cent of reported offenders are men
Many are married with children
Most tend to gravitate towards professions, places and activities which put them in contact with children
Between one in four and one in 10 children will have experienced sexual abuse before they reach adulthood
Disabled children are five times more likely to be abused than able bodied children
Victims often face a life battling with alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, severe depression, self harm and suicide attempts.
It must never happen againPublished on Wednesday 21 November 2001 11:34
PERVERTS Malcolm Phillips and Andrew Shalders are behind bars, finally brought to book for a catalogue of vile sex attacks at a Halifax children s home.
Convicted after a three year police investigation, the two Skircoat Lodge “care” workers had denied 64 charges of sexual offences. They were found guilty at Bradford Crown Court of 38 charges.
Malcolm Osric Phillips (68), and Andrew James Shald-ers (54), preyed on fearful, vulnerable children. Over many years, in the 70s and 80s, they abused their power and exploited their charges.
Andrew ShaldersShalders, sentenced to 15 years, used threats and cruelly false promises to abuse young boys. Phillips, a forceful, explosive personality, exploited troubled young girls at Skircoat Lodge.
Both, in their different ways, used the children in their care as unwitting sex slaves. Some children were groomed for abuse, others were so traumatised they believed the abuse was “normal”.
Yet both men might have escaped detection. They, and seven other suspects from Halifax care homes, were only exposed when a previous resident walked into a police station in the south of England.
Those complaints, by a male in his 40s, were in 1997. They confirmed growing concerns in Calderdale Social Services. Mr Christopher Brabbs, the new director, had independently called for an investigation.
This followed complaints of rape, by a former resident of Skircoat Lodge, against Phillips. He was dismissed in 1996 from his job with Calderdale Council. No criminal prosecution was made at that time.
The “Evening Courier s” own investigation into the victims of Phillips and Shalders reveals the tragic effects of the legacy of abuse. Some lives were damaged beyond repair.
Others grew into adulthood tainted with sorrowfull memories and suffered long-term psychological problems or turned to drink or drugs to block out the suffering.
Nobody truly knows how many children were abused during the two men s reign of sexual fear at Skircoat Lodge. There are suspicions that others who were abused were too afraid and ashamed to come forward.
The four-year investigation – tagged Operation Screen – was thorough and exhaustive. More than 2,500 people were interviewed and 880 statements were taken. Seventy eight people made allegations.
A major inquiry into Calderdale children s services is to get under way following the convictions.
The inquiry by the Area Child Protection Committee will try to find out what lessons can be learned.
Head of children s services Kitty Ferris said: “The social services department had already begun this process and has reviewed the safeguards in place to protect children.”
Det Chief Supt Max McLean, the officer in charge of the inquiry, said: “I am very pleased with the result. In terms of the court case, 24 young people have seen justice in respect of their abusers.”
Children s campaigners today criticised the seven-year sentence given to Phillips.
The NSPCC s Joe Cocker said: “It does not reflect the pain, the suffering and the anguish that the victims have had to endure over the last 20 years.”