Saturday 16 March 2013

Care Concern

Care Concern was the idea of David Rattray, a former Deputy Director of Social Services for Denbighshire.
He owned property along the A5 near Llangollen and opened part of it up as a Residential School for emotionally disturbed boys.

By 1985 Care Concern had opened two residential schools within Gwynedd itself. 
The first of these was Cartref Melys  in the Sychnant Pass near Conway.

The second Care Concern school to open in Gwynedd was Hengwrt Hall School at Rhydymain.

Care Concern's operations also embraced Westminster House, Chester (a halfway house), Firs Mount, Colwyn Bay (a home for severely mentally handicapped adults) and The Village, Llangwyfan (previously a tuberculosis sanatorium and used by Care Concern as a home for adults but catering for some teenagers)

Ystrad Hall

Ystrad Hall was on the A5 road near Llangollen in the direction of Corwen. The property comprised Ystrad Hall itself, an hotel run by Rattray as a business and known as Eirianfa Hotel, together with 14 acres of land.
Rattray recruited the Officer-in-Charge or Superintendent of Bersham Hall, Richard Ernest Leake, who had been in post for about two years, to establish a residential school for emotionally disturbed boys aged 11 to 16 years at Ystrad Hall.
Leake was appointed Principal of the school and a number of staff, including David White, the senior teacher (later headmaster), were also recruited from Bersham Hall.

The residential accommodation at Ystrad Hall was damaged by fire at the end of 1979 or early 1980 where upon the pupils were moved temporarily to another school nearby, recently acquired by Care Concern. This was St David's College.
On their return to Ystrad Hall the school closed as a home for boys and all remaining boys transferred to Cartref Melys, which also closed five years later in 1986. 

Carl Evans' background was that he had left school at the age of 15 years and had then had varied employment, as a trainee forester, salesman, army musician and assistant manager of a finance company, for 14 years before starting residential care work. 
By the date of his appointment to Little Acton he was 40 years old and his experience of residential care had been at two approved schools and then as Third-in-Charge of an assessment centre for just over two years to February 1976. 
He had obtained the CRCCYP in 1967, having taken the housemasters' course at Lemorby Park. 
Immediately prior to his appointment at Little Acton he had been employed briefly by Care Concern at Ystrad Hall, Llangollen, where he had received an official warning for criticising the standard of the home in the presence of a new student. 
He had also secured an appointment as First Deputy at a remand home in Manchester but had been unable to take this up because of the needs of his foster child.

The main target of complaints about physical abuse was Christopher Williamson who was named by 12 complainants. Williamson went to Ystrad Hall as a care officer in March 1976 at the age of 23 years, after working at a remand centre for two years.
His only training was an in-service pre-qualifying course in residential care for children involving attendance at Cartrefle College once per week for a year.
Nevertheless, he was promoted to Deputy Officer-in-Charge of the Eirianfa Unit, under Bryan Davies, after six months.
Williamson remained at Eirianfa until 1981 and then worked successively at St David's College, Carrog, and The Village, Llangwyfan, mainly with adults.
After leaving Care Concern's employ in 1986 he went to South Glamorgan as a senior RCCO..

Although 11 other former members of the staff were alleged by individual former residents (in statements to the police) to have committed physical assaults upon them of varying gravity, only one was named by as many as three former residents.

1978 Bryan Davies, Warden of a residential unit at Ystrad Hall School, Llangollen, who had been suspended on 25 May was convicted on 4 September at Llangollen Magistrates' Court of three offences of indecent assault involving two pupils at the school, for which he was placed on probation for 12 months, with a condition of hospital treatment, and ordered to perform 160 hours' community service.

1999 Richard Ernest Leake, formerly Principal of Ystrad Hall School at Llangollen, was been charged with offences of indecent assaults on boys alleged to have been committed between 1972 and 1978. He denied all the charges and trial was set for 8 November 1999.
Waterhouse was not able to investigate allegations of sexual abuse made against Leake himself by former residents of Ystrad Hall School because they were the subject of continuing police investigation.

Waterhouse concluded that: We have not been able to obtain a full picture of the alleged abuse at Ystrad Hall School and some serious matters remain unresolved. The fact that sexual abuse has been proved here too gives additional cause for substantial concern and adds to the gloomy history that we have narrated in earlier chapters. Sexual abuse apart, the record of the school was patchy. It is clear that other physical abuse did occur on quite frequent occasions early on and that the prohibition on corporal punishment was not fully observed but it is reasonable to infer from the dates before us that physical abuse became less frequent as time went on, probably after the investigation by Leake into D's treatment. The quality of care fluctuated but the school might have survived, bearing in mind the improvements noted on the inspection in December 1979, but for the fire in the Eirianfa unit that occurred very soon afterwards and the consequent disruption. 

Cartref Melys
Cartref Melys in the Sychnant Pass near Conway, which was provisionally registered as a residential school on 1 October 1975, in view of the demand for places at Ystrad Hall School.

It was granted full registration as a residential special school on 23 December 1976 for up to 20 emotionally disturbed children aged 11 to 17 years. 
The permitted number of children was increased progressively to 28 by 1981 and the school was given SEN approval for that number of children on 12 December 1983 but Waterhouse was told that it closed in or about July 1986. 

There were two complaints in respect of this school, one of which was against an unidentified member of staff.

St David's College
St David's College, Carrog, about two miles from Corwen. It appears Care Concern had started to provide education for girls at St David's College and, after Ystrad Hall closed to boys, it was re-opened by Care Concern as Berwyn College, a residential home for girls with learning difficulties, replacing St David's College. 
Berwyn College was registered from 13 August 1981 to 31 March 1985 and it did admit some boys during the period of industrial action by residential care staff. 
That approval was ultimately withdrawn on 3 April 1989 and the school was sold to new proprietors in November 1991.
We are not aware of any complaint of sexual abuse at Berwyn College. 
Seven residents complained of physical abuse by David Trevor Tinniswood, mainly in the form of excessive restraint. Only one of the seven, however, provided evidence to the Tribunal and he was the only male complainant who made allegations against Tinniswood.

 Hengwrt Hall School 
The second Care Concern school to open in Gwynedd was Hengwrt Hall School at Rhydymain, between Dolgellau and Bala (not to be confused with Hengwrt House, which became registered as Ysgol Hengwrt). 
This was provisionally registered on 12 August 1976 and achieved full registration on 24 January 1977 as a residential special school for up to 25 physically and mentally handicapped children, categorised at the time as ESN.
The permitted number of children was increased in July 1980 to 35 and the school was granted SEN approval on 12 December 1983 for up to 35 boys and girls aged five to 16 years with severe learning difficulties.

The Village, Llangwyfan
A postscript about this establishment is necessary, although it was neither a children's home nor a residential school, because it was owned by Care Concern and was the subject of complaints by one witness who gave oral evidence to the Tribunal.

The Village occupied the site of a former purpose built sanatorium for tuberculosis patients established under the auspices of the King Edward VII Memorial Fund in a village near Ruthin. Care Concern opened its residential institution there in March 1983 with the object of providing training for persons of both sexes between the ages of 16 and 65 years with learning difficulties and it included workshops in which residents could learn a variety of appropriate trades.

We deal with this matter briefly because the witness, F, does not appear to have been in care when he went to live at The Village on 28 June 1983, at the age of 16 years 8 months. F's background was that he had been born prematurely and suffered from both cerebral palsy and epilepsy. After he had attended special schools, The Village was recommended to his mother and his social worker and others and he stayed there for just over five years. F's complaints came to light in June 1996 (the month when he made a statement to the police) after he had seen a television programme and had communicated with a television company, which led to appearances on television and radio and interviews with the press.

The allegations made by F in his oral evidence to the Tribunal, were that (a) he had been indecently assaulted and buggered by a member of the staff on one occasion before his 18th birthday at The Village in the latter's office behind a locked door in an incident that lasted 20 to 30 minutes; (b) he had also been indecently assaulted and buggered on numerous occasions by a fellow resident several years older then him (who was a known homosexual) from before his 18th birthday until he left; (c) he had been punched in the stomach by two members of the staff independently of each other on two separate occasions but that he had become quite good friends with one of the two later.

Waterhouse concluded that: Whilst we have no specific reason to doubt the veracity of allegation (b), it is impossible for us to be satisfied that (a) and (c) are correct. We heard evidence from the staff member referred to in (a) and he denied the allegations vehemently, describing it as "absolute rubbish". Moreover, it is the only allegation of that kind that has been made against him in respect of a long period of service with Care Concern in various establishments. There is no evidence whatsoever tending to confirm the allegation and, like the allegations in (c), it is said to have been an isolated incident, which was never repeated.
In these circumstances it is not appropriate for us to comment further upon the regime at The Village.

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