IICSA announces publication date for Lambeth Council report

July 8th, 2021

For years, Lambeth Council has been under investigation for failing to protect children in their care.

Finally, the IISCA has announced a publication date for their long-awaited Lambeth Investigation Report, and unfortunately it will make difficult reading.

The IICSA report is based on a total of 19 days of public hearings held last year, and is one of three investigations by the Inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of children in care homes up and down the country, including the London Borough of Lambeth. Verisona Law represented and supported 6 core participants at the IICSA Lambeth inquiry hearings to ensure their evidence was taken into account and properly investigated. The report results are therefore awaited by our core participants as well as thousands of survivors of Lambeth’s social care and children home system.

The detailed and often painful investigation looked at the treatment and possible sexual abuse of vulnerable young people, and whether there were systemic failures on Lambeth Council’s part to protect the most at risk from molestation and abuse.

In acknowledgment of the abuse within Lambeth Council controlled children’s homes, Lambeth set-up the Children’s Home Redress Scheme to compensate those who had been affected by the wide-scale abuse.

Individual Redress Payments

As of January 2021, over 1,400 Individual Redress Payments had been made to victims of abuse while in the Lambeth care home system, totalling £46.9million. This figure includes interim payments and payments to those that exceed the scheme limit of £125,000. Applicants are not required to obtain a copy of their social care records before making a redress application.

Since its initiation in January 2018, the scheme has seen over 1,700 applications for compensation, and will remain open to applications until January 2022. This alone indicates the sheer scale of the levels of abuse suffered by countless children over the years, in what should have been a safe and secure environment for vulnerable youngsters.

A real and positive change?

It is hoped that the report will tackle some of the tougher questions about the extent of cover-up, problems with the interaction between social work professionals and the police investigating disclosures, and whether and how paedophiles developed a sophisticated network to take advantage of the most vulnerable in the children’s home system.

The publication of the Inquiry’s conclusions is destined to highlight failings right across the board, but whether it will be a case of ‘lessons will be learned’, platitudes or the signal for real and positive change, it remains to be seen. Many of those involved do not want to be financially compensated for their years of suffering, but wish to ensure that other young and vulnerable people are never subjected to the same treatment that they had to endure. They want to see real change, and we hope that the report will kick-start exactly that.

While more than 70% of the applications have been processed, more are waiting in the wings. Not only has £47million been paid out in Individual Redress Payments, but a further £12.7million has also been paid out in Harm’s Way Payments. There is the facility for up to £125million to fully fund the scheme – money that the Council has had to borrow directly from the government.

Verisona Law are aware that some may have found it difficult to come forward with their experiences so far, and we therefore remain committed to offering support and guidance to survivors surrounding the scheme claim process.

Apologies and counselling

It’s not just about the money. Part of the settlement for those affected by abuse during their time in the child-care system includes a formal letter of apology from the Council and a meeting with a senior officer, as well as access to counselling and support advisory services. Survivors will also be able to access free specialist independent counselling support services available via Oxleas NHS Trust.

Lambeth has acknowledged the failings inherent in the system at the time of the abuse, and that it has taken far too long for the situation to be investigated fully. The redress payments are not the end of the process – a top-to-bottom review of the social care system in Lambeth, and other boroughs around the country, must now take place to ensure future generations of vulnerable children are protected from sexual abuse in care homes and foster placements. In the 21st century, it is unacceptable that vulnerable young people should be put at such risk by the failings of those whose responsibility it is to  protecting them.

Verisona Law’s expert team has supported more than 136 survivors through the IRP application process for redress and have helped their clients recover over £7.5m.

The hope is that IICSA’s report will fully acknowledge the failings in the system and highlight the need for better transparency to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

If you’ve been affected by the events discussed in this article, contact one of our team today for confidential, clear advice and guidance.