Saturday 17 January 2015

Lambeth, Islington and Beyond

Ted Knight, Labour MP was excluded from the Labour party in 1956, following involvement with the Socialist Labour League but allowed to rejoin in 1970.
In 1978, he became the leader of Lambeth Council, a post he kept until 1986.
Although he retired from political life, he is still active within the Trade union, Unite.
In Islington, his counterpart was Margaret Hodge, wife of NCCL Chairman Henry Hodge.
Most of the following would have happened whilst he was in charge of the Council. 

Operation Trawler was an investigation by the Child Protection Team at Lambeth borough in August 1998 in relation to a social worker offending at a care home.
Operation Trawler emanated from an investigation by Merseyside Police.
Detective Inspector Clive Driscoll led the operation until late 1998 – early 1999, exact dates await confirmation; this operation was the precursor of Operation Middleton.

Operation Middleton was a wide-scale pro-active operation investigating a number of allegations of sexual and physical abuse alleged to have taken place at a number of children’s homes in Lambeth between 1975 and 1994.
The operation was led by Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini, in charge of a team of detectives based at the 5 Area Crime Operational Crime Unit, Cavendish Road police station, and took place between November 1998 until June 2003.

Angell Road Children's Home saw Michael John Carroll and Steve Forrest preying on children, 
Southvale Home suffered the attentions of Leslie Paul.
Battersea Home, meanwhile, was victim of Abraham Jacob.
Ivy House
Monkton Street

The list goes on....

Lambeth got so bad, a curb was put in place. In December 1986, Lambeth Council stated No contact was to be had by Council employees with the police until it had been authorised by a supervisor.

Abraham Jacob, a known associate of Jack Straw, Ted Knight and Margaret Hodge, had worked at Battersea Children's Home until arrest and conviction in 1974 for indecent assault on a young boy.
By 1986 he was working in an old people's home by day and the focus of Operation Circus by night.
Trawling Piccadilly Circus, train stations and amusement arcades, he targeted young boys and took them to Wimpy bar in Piccadilly and sat them by the window for burgers and drinks as business-men picked which they wanted, paying between £10 and £40 for a young boy.
It was thought he had been running this set-up from before his conviction.

Michael Carroll, a known associate of John Allen (Bryn Alyn Community), started his career in 1960's in Wirral, joining the staff of the children's home he had just left as a resident, and was convicted for crimes at St Edmund's in Bebington, in 1966.
In 1978 he got a job as Social Worker in Lambeth. By 1981, he was in charge of Angell Road Children's Home.
In 1986, he and his wife applied to become foster parents with a view to adoption, at which point his previous conviction was discovered.
The Council were informed and he as placed on a disciplinary charge. The Inquiry that followed, Chaired by David Pope, decided to leave him in charge at the Home. He was finally sacked in 1990 after it was discovered he had defrauded the Council by spending £300 of money intended for Angell Road, on alcohol and cigarettes.
In 1991, he bought The Hand Hotel in Chirk, on the Wrexham/Chester border.
His name also came up in connection to Alan Langshaw, during a Merseyside investigation.
After pleading Not Guilty to 76 charges, Carroll finally pled guilty to 35 specimen charges under Operation Care in 1997.
The events in Islington represented a systemic failure of the whole social services department, which had had a good reputation until around 1982, when the newly elected Labour council decided to set up a revolutionary new structure of devolved management, with 24 neighbourhood offices. This devolved structure led to a chaotic system in social services, with what were later called “confused lines of accountability”. Record-keeping was spread between the local offices, and this made it very difficult for social workers to keep up with “clients” who moved around the borough, or to follow up allegations of abuse.

There was also experimentation with equal opportunities policies on a grand scale. While the central management on many aspects of services may have been weak, the diktats of the personnel department on equal opportunities had to be obeyed. For example, if social services managers decided that a particular post required five years’ experience in a children’s home, this could be overruled by the equal opportunities policy, which could dictate that a far less qualified person should be taken on because otherwise the selection process was discriminatory. Moreover, managers making an appointment could not insist on a reference from a previous employer and could not challenge the references given on the basis of the status of the referee (in other words, an applicant could get away with references from two friends). Muddled management procedures also meant that it was not always clear who was the appointing officer, and appointments could, therefore, be made by a group of residential home managers, thereby increasing the likelihood of collusion over appointments.

With the normal checks no longer available to those making appointments, Islington became wide open for sexual predators to move in, and the lax procedures were systematically exploited by determined men seeking to use the children for their own ends.

In Liverpool, meanwhile, and in several other authorities, there was a deliberate policy of expunging any mention of unsubstantiated allegations from an employee’s record. Given that paedophiles often have a standard modus operandi, the retention of such allegations is very important: evidence of similar types of allegation, at different times, by victims unknown to each other, would be a powerful pointer to something being amiss. The policy of expunging allegations was, therefore, just another example of how such ways of operating prioritised the rights of council employees above the needs of the children in their care. In the inquiry into the Trotter case, a union representative, recalling the early 1980s, said: “We tried to make it as difficult as possible for an employer to sack.”

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