Responding to the publication today (27th July 2021) of the Report into institutional failings by Lambeth Council in the protection of children formerly in its care by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Leader of the council, Cllr Claire Holland said:
“On behalf of all elected Members and staff, Lambeth Council wishes to re-state our sincere and heartfelt apology to all victims and survivors of abuse and neglect while in Lambeth’s care. The council was responsible for their care and protection but failed, with profound consequences. The council is deeply sorry for their experiences.
“As the IICSA Report sets out, the council of the past failed to protect many of its most vulnerable children. A disproportionate number of those children were from Black, Asian and Multi-Ethnic backgrounds. The extent and scale of the horrendous abuse, which took place over many decades, remains deeply shocking.
“The council failed to acknowledge concerns when they arose, often failed to believe children when they disclosed abuse and then failed to take effective action. That so many children and adults were not believed compounded their experiences and caused further pain and distress with lifelong impacts. The council takes responsibility for contributing to conditions in which adults were able to abuse with apparent impunity.
The council has co-operated fully and transparently with IICSA, in order to understand what happened to the children in our care and examine the institutional failings; and to reflect and learn from the findings to ensure such events never happen again. The Report makes three recommendations for Lambeth Council, including asking the council to develop an Action Plan to deliver improvements, something which the authority already has in place and which will now be reviewed in light of the report. The Lambeth Council Action Plan already also ensures and delivers effective training for councillors to carry out their role as corporate parents and stronger recruitment and vetting of potential foster carers: both are further recommendations of the Report.
While accepting the clear and inexcusable failings of the council over decades, a clear distinction must be drawn between the council of the past with the Lambeth of today. The fact that the report acknowledges this is welcome – but we know we have much, much more to do. Lambeth Council is determined that such widespread failure should never be repeated and have been working extremely hard to make sure that our governance, systems, processes, training, culture and corporate learning deliver this commitment.
Cllr. Holland continues: “Lambeth Council fully accepts the recommendations from this inquiry and will continue to strive to improve the care we provide to children and young people”.
“The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme honours our pledge to face up to the mistakes of the past. Lambeth Council proactively established the Redress Scheme in 2018 after extensive consultation with victims and survivors. Lambeth made this decision because there is no Government scheme to provide redress for all victims and survivors of abuse.
“We will continue to listen to survivors and victims as we formulate our proposals to formally mark and ensure the events of the past in our borough are never forgotten.
“The council recognises that there is much more to be done as part of its improvement journey and that we can never be complacent. Lambeth today benefits from robust political and corporate leadership and governance, founded on a sound understanding of its corporate parenting responsibilities.
“Crucially, we will continue to ensure children’s views and voices are at the heart of all of our decision making and that we continue to have different mechanisms in place to enable children and young people to feel empowered to share openly what is happening to them. We look forward to contributing to the Inquiry’s final report as a means of demonstrating our commitment to improvement for children in care.
“We believe children and young people are better listened to and better protected in the Lambeth of today. Lambeth Council – and our partners – welcomes all the recommendations from IICSA that will assist the council to continue to keep children safe now and in the future.”
Cllr. Holland also released a video statement in response to the report.