Ahead of the start of formal hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into “Children in the care of Lambeth Council”, council leader Jack Hopkins said that children had been “betrayed by the organisation entrusted to protect them”.
Cllr Hopkins restated the council’s apology for the abuse suffered at former Lambeth children’s homes which were open from the 1930s until the 1980s and 90s. And he said that, whilst nothing can right the wrongs of the past or ever make amends for the abuse children suffered, the ground-breaking redress scheme, which has so far paid over £46m in compensation, was helping to honour Lambeth’s pledge to face up to the mistakes of the past.
The IICSA investigation into “the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in the care of Lambeth Council from sexual abuse and exploitation”, originally announced in November 2015, will begin full formal public hearings next Monday, June 29th.
The Inquiry will investigate whether there were child protection failures by public authorities, and it will carefully consider the extent to which children’s vulnerabilities put them at greater risk of sexual abuse, and how this may have impacted the response of authorities.
Evidence will be heard from a wide range of witnesses, including complainant core participants, former elected councillors of Lambeth council, police officers and other public authorities.
Lambeth pledged from the earliest stage of the inquiry to work transparently and cooperatively with IICSA. So far, it has disclosed 250,000 pages of relevant documents and files to IICSA. Lambeth’s corporate witness statement runs to more than 300 pages and makes reference to over 250 exhibits, some of which are lengthy reports.
Cllr Hopkins said: “Lambeth Council gives a full apology for the abuse suffered at our former children’s homes which were open from the 1930s until the 1980s and 90s. The children and young people were betrayed by the organisation entrusted to protect them, and the Redress Scheme honours our pledge to face up to the mistakes of the past.
“Lambeth became the first, and so far only, council in the country to develop a redress scheme after the scale of abuse in its former children’s homes was revealed by survivors. By simplifying the redress process the scheme means far more of the compensation goes to survivors of abuse, rather than being taken up by legal fees. It also means no survivor will have to restate their experience of abuse in court.
“We know that many former children’s homes residents will never be able to forgive the council for their childhood experiences. But we are determined to do all we can to deliver swift redress to those who have waited so long to even have acknowledgement of the suffering they experienced.”
The most recent data shows there have been 1,602 applications submitted into the redress scheme, and a total of £46.4m has been paid in redress. The council is borrowing up to £100million to fund the scheme. Updates and improvements have been made to the Redress Scheme since it opened, and we will continue to listen to listen to survivors.