CamdenNewJournal

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How did files on abuse survivors go missing?

It’s incompetence or malpractice, support group for Islington children’s homes abuse survivors is told

05 October, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Islington Survivors’ Network is headed by social worker and academic Liz Davies

ISLINGTON’S council leader has suggested “malpractice” may have played a part in the disappearance from archives of files on children previously in the council’s care.

Huge numbers of children suffered abuse while living in Islington children’s homes between the 1970s and 1990s. Five survivors grilled council leader Richard Watts at a question time session at Goodinge Community Centre in North Road on Tuesday.

Islington Survivors’ Network, headed by social worker and academic Liz Davies, is fighting to secure compensation for those who suffered abuse while in council care.

Dr Davies told the Tribune before the meeting that the Town Hall was failing to find complete case files – documents detailing a child’s time in council care ­– for a large number of survivors.

When asked by a survivor if they could be more involved in the inspection of the existing files, Councillor Watts responded that he “worried” that this would see the council break strict data protection laws.

He added: “I don’t know what the cause of the holes in the files is, but I am willing to guess it is a combination of both historical incompetence and malpractice. That seems to be the fairest bet available that we have.”

He said a further meeting was scheduled with survivors to discuss the best way for them to access their files.

Cllr Watts reassured survivors that current staff who work in Islington social services with information about the perpetrators of abuse can come forward with “no recrimination”.

He said the council did not hold a full list of staff who worked there for the period before 1995.

The council will continue to fund the trauma service for Islington child abuse survivors run by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, he added.

“The fact that kids in our care suffered abuse in the 1970s all the way up to the 1990s is a disgrace and a horrific failure by the council. We are working to try to make good on that,” said Cllr Watts.

An independent, barrister-led review into the failings of the White Report, a 1995 investigation into the council’s management of child abuse allegations, is expected to be released to the public in the next couple of weeks.

The review was prompted by claims that former councillor Sandy Marks had links to a pro-paedophile group, Fallen Angels, during the 1970s – she chaired Islington’s social services committee in the 1990s. She denies the allegations.

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