Lambeth’s Action Plan, agreed last December, laid out how the council will respond to the national report “Children in the care of Lambeth Council”, published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in July 2021. The investigation examined the scale and nature of historic sexual abuse experienced by children in the former care of Lambeth Council over several decades spanning the 1960s to the 1990s, and the extent of institutional failures to protect children in care from sexual abuse and exploitation.
The first of the three recommendations in the inquiry report was that, within six months, Lambeth should produce “a comprehensive action plan which details the actions that it will take in response to the issues raised throughout the Inquiry’s investigation report”. IICSA also stipulated that the action plan “should be accompanied by timescales for completing identified actions as soon as possible”.
A Delivery Update presented to the council’s cabinet this week revealed that almost half the actions identified in the Action Plan have already been completed. A number of others are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Claire Holland, Leader of Lambeth Council, said: “We have accepted that the council of the past failed in its duty to keep children safe and the extent and scale of the abuse, which took place over many decades, remains deeply shocking. The council has accepted responsibility for creating conditions in which adults were able to sexually abuse children in our care.
“As an administration, we have apologised to the victims and survivors for the inexcusable and appalling mistreatment they were subjected to. On behalf of all elected Members and staff, I wish to re-state our sincere and heartfelt apology to all victims and survivors of abuse and neglect while in Lambeth’s care.
“As an institution, it is a shame the council will always carry and it is for our administration and future administrations, for councillors and officers, to make sure that such a situation is never allowed to happen again in Lambeth. As responsible corporate parents, this should always be at the forefront of our minds.”
The delivery update disclosed that, out of 64 actions in the plan, 30 have been completed and quality assured, including:
- The review of the Member Code of Conduct, ensuring clear directive about the distinction between oversight and scrutiny role of elected Members and operational decision making by Officers.
- The development and implementation of our Directorate’s Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans.
- The review of the council’s Constitution, to strengthen corporate parenting responsibilities.
- Updating the council’s Whistleblowing Policy to include specific reference to safeguarding concerns.
A further 25 actions are underway, with four due for completion by the end of 2022. These actions include:
- The implementation of a refreshed corporate safeguarding policy
- The implementation of the revised elected Member DBS policy.
- The delivery of the first Corporate Annual Day of Reflection, which is being developed with the senior leadership team and with elected Members, the Lambeth Youth Council, Children in Care Council, and engagement with an external mediator working with a small group of survivors of abuse, to make sure the council is giving the appropriate focus in a considered and meaningful way.
IICSA’s final Report is expected to be published later this month, marking the conclusion of IICSA’s inquiry and their findings across all of the panel’s investigations, including into Lambeth.
Cllr Holland said Lambeth would review any further recommendations made to ensure that the council can – and will – be better able to protect children from sexual abuse now and in the future.
She added: “This report provides an update on our work and activities to date and also makes clear the delivery of the action plan.
“This all will help deliver real and sustainable change for children and young people in care, helping to make sure that the horrors of the past are not repeated.
“Taken together, I believe that it provides reassurance that as a council we are embedding meaningful action to safeguard some of our most vulnerable residents.”