Developments in the IICSA hearing
Yesterday, the Inquiry heard evidence from Anna Tapsell, former chair of the Trade Union and then a councillor for Lambeth and Chair of the Social Services Committee. She gave evidence as to the widespread corruption in Lambeth Council.
It was clear from her evidence that during her time as a Councillor, in particular, Ms Tapsell had a genuine concern that the voices of the children in Lambeth’s Children’s Homes were not being heard. Whilst Ms Tapsell clearly wanted to resolve this issue, it is clear from the evidence she gave that time and time again, she was unable to get the co-operation needed to implement change.
One such change Ms Tapsell tried to implement was to ensure Councillors who had a duty to visit children’s homes, underwent police checks. She stated “councillors can be paedophiles too, and indeed some were”. She also tried to insist that councillors visited the homes in pairs “which at least afforded the children some protection”. However this did not happen, “the department couldn’t even make those arrangement without them all going wrong”. “I felt we must be police checked, so the department started to put that into the process, and then we got the wrong forms, then we got a different lot of forms, then it couldn’t happen because something else had happened”.
Ms Tapsell, rightly, was concerned about Carroll, a Schedule 1 offender, running a children’s home. “I discussed how we could urgently make sure that the children hadn’t been harmed, how that could be done and I didn’t get anywhere with that. That discussion wasn’t progressed. I’d spoken to the leader of the council, I’d spoken to the chief executive, I’d spoken to the chair of Social Services, I’d spoken to everybody who I thought would want to take action, and they manifestly did not”.
When discussing children who had run away from the children’s homes and could not be found, Ms Tapsell stated “I came to believe, after some years of trying to work it out, that some of those children would have probably been parked in our children’s homes, particularly South Vale, pending their use for paedophiles”.
Ms Tapsell’s evidence has shown that some people involved with Lambeth did genuinely care about the children but were ultimately powerless to implement change and protect the most vulnerable children in our society.
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