Three More Witherwack Childrens Home Documents released

Sunderland City Council have released 3 more documents relating to Witherwack House, in response to a Freedom of Information request. [5]

1 Director [of Sunderland] Social Services Report October 1997 [1]

2 Agreement between City of Sunderland and NSPCC in respect of former Childrens Home called Witherwack [2]

3 Copy of code of conduct for officers in operation at the time of the allegations [3]

4 Report on investigation into allegations of child abuse written by Homes Officers was refused. However on further request the following information was released.

“The document is headlined ‘Report on investigation into allegations of child abuse at Witherwack House’ and deals solely with Witherwack; no other homes are cited in the report.
The report is ten pages long and there were two investigating officers. Personal interviews with staff and children were undertaken in September 1987 and persons with specific information were invited to submit statements.
There were investigations into ten separate allegations; statements, reports and submissions of secondary evidence were taken from ten children and thirteen members of staff across the ten allegations.
Investigating Officers Conclusions
Although there have been a substantial number of allegations these have been constantly levelled at ########################################. What has been remarkable throughout the investigation has been the consistency of the children and staff and it can only be surmised that if these allegations are not true their (sic) have been a lot of people lying which would raise just as serious issues about ########################################.

While many of the specific incidents are difficult to verify in detail it is our feeling that there is foundation to the claims being made. It is felt that ######################################## built up what could only be described as a culture of verbal and physical violence in their unit. The atmosphere was apparently one which lacked professional adult/child relationships and that staff were functioning at the level of children rather than vice versa. There is considerable feeling among staff remaining against ######################################## and we generally feel we will experience considerable unrest should they return to Witherwack.
Recommendation
That disciplinary proceedings be taken against these people on the grounds of gross professional misconduct on all or at least most of the incidents outlined.”

A brief initial interpretation of the documents is given below but I welcome any corrections on my initial interpretation of what these documents are, and their significance, which is difficult to work out quickly.

1 Director [of Sunderland] Social Services Report October 1997 [1]

This is the response of the Sunderland Social Services Director to the NSPCC Report September 1997.

It is significant because of:-

a) The help and counselling offered to victims, which if needed I believe is still applicable today,

b) Admitting abuse took place,

c) Some form of apology,

d) Another report to be done 6 months after this.

If the Council has not lived up to this, they can be chased up quoting this document.

2 Agreement between City of Sunderland and NSPCC in respect of former Childrens Home called Witherwack

This agreement must have been prior to 27th April 1997 and presumably was to help gather the information for the NSPCC Report 1 published in September 1997, which was sent to the Council, (NSPCC Report 2 was sent to Northumbria Police).  A redacted copy of the NSPCC Report 1 was released by Sunderland City Council a few months ago.

3 Copy of code of conduct for officers in operation at the time of the allegations https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/175902/response/439617/attach/4/3%20Code%20of%20conduct%20approved%203.7.91.pdf

4 Report on investigation into allegations of child abuse written by Homes Officers, was initially refused. The initial refusal is as follows

“Regrettably the Council will not be able to release this document under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act; we must apply the ‘personal information’ exemption at Section 40 of the Act.

The document comprises highly detailed records of interviews and witness statements, to the extent that even redaction of the names of the principals involved can not guarantee anonymity given the extensive and meticulous accounts of incidents. The document is being withheld on the basis that the level of required redaction of these details would effectively render the document meaningless.

Although the amount of information redacted by the council for which they judge the document to be meaningless, is probably a lot less than my own, so starved are we of information, then this is probably a legitimate use of the exemption, and first impressions are I do not consider time spent on this to be a useful picking of low hanging fruit (information), which is still there to be picked. However a follow up will be done just to ascertain the length of the report and which homes were mentioned.”

(update 19 0ct 2013) The follow up was done  and the relevant information is now as above 4.

Links and References

[1] Director of Social Services Report https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/175902/response/439617/attach/5/1a%20Witherwack%20Report%20DSS%20Oct%201997.pdf

[2] Agreement between City Of Sunderland and NSPCC https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/175902/response/439617/attach/6/1b%20DSS%20Report%20Oct%201997%20App2.pdf

[3] Officers Code of Conduct https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/175902/response/439617/attach/4/3%20Code%20of%20conduct%20approved%203.7.91.pdf

[4] NSPCC Report 1 https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/nspcc-witherack-house-report-redacted/

[5] FOI Request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/child_abuse_documents_held_by_su#incoming-439617

cathyfox the truth will out

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About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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4 Responses to Three More Witherwack Childrens Home Documents released

  1. Pingback: More Witherack Childrens Home Documents | Alternative News Network

  2. Pingback: Report on investigation into allegations of child abuse at Witherwack House – conclusion | cathyfox

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