Wally Harbert’s submission to IICSA

This is Wally Herbert’s submission to the IICSA Inquiry submitted on 12th Sept 2016.  Abuse in children’s homes Evidence for the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse . It can be found on his website [1].

It refers to two of his articles on this blog 2015 Feb 3 Cathy Fox Blog Historic Abuse in Children’s Homes – The Management Context by Wally Harbert [2] [Appendix 1 on this post] and 2014 Nov 9 Cathy Fox Blog Child Protection in a Hostile Environment by Wally Harbert [3] [Appendix 2 on this post].

I have therefore published them all on this one post, but missed out my introductions and some photos, but for accuracy check his website and the original two posts.

Wally was Hackneys first Director of Social Services in 1970, joined Avon County Council in the same capacity in 1973. He became Help the Aged UK Director in 1990, then Director of Planning and Development, retiring in 1996.

He has served on many government committees, drafted reports for the National Health Executive and the Home Office, and 6 books about Personal Social Services.

Wally was President of the Association of Directors of Social Services in 1978/9 and was awarded the OBE in 1984.

 

Abuse in children’s homes Evidence for the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual abuse

This paper explores why sexual abuse in children’s homes was allowed to flourish for so long and why those responsible for protecting children have largely remained silent about their failures.

As a director of social services from 1970 -1990 I witnessed extensive attempts to deny the reality of child sexual abuse in homes and, when it could not be ignored, to keep it hidden – even if that allowed offenders to continue offending.

Social services departments were not free-standing; they were part of a corporate system where power was shared with councillors, trustees of homes, human resources departments, lawyers and chief executives. In the County of Avon it sometimes seemed that everyone regarded themselves as child care experts. The real experts were at the bottom of the heap when power was distributed and their views, like those of children, easily went unheeded, especially when they were excluded from committee meetings where decisions were made. Some human resources policies, practices and terminology would not have been amiss in a 1930’s shipyard.

When I claimed that a corporate policy had an adverse impact on the lives of children my report might fail to reach a committee agenda or be contradicted by human resources experts or lawyers who made judgements well outside their areas of understanding or competence; they were skilled at telling councillors what they wanted to hear and their advice changed with changes in political power.

Councillors who expressed views to me about sexual activities between adults and children did not interpret it as abuse but as falling somewhere between horseplay, exaggerated comments by attention-seeking children and a good educational experience. They tended to see my attempts to draw attention to poor standards of child care as bids to blackmail them into raising costs by bringing staffing levels in homes up to nationally agreed minimum standards. There were occasions when I and my managers put our jobs at risk by speaking truth to power.

It was abhorrent to some councillors and senior officers that I might place the careers of hard working staff at risk, impair relationships with trades unions and create bad publicity for the Council because of dubious complaints from disreputable children. I was commonly advised to, “have a quiet word” with offenders. Some charity trustees had similar views and claimed that I exaggerated allegations of abuse as an excuse to close their homes.

In the 1990’s I wrote about 50,000 words detailing my experiences but was advised by a publisher of social services titles that no publisher would be interested because of the danger of actions for libel. If I self-published, whatever the merits of my case, I might spend the rest of my retirement in the courts and I could not match the indemnity insurance carried by a lawyer or a local authority.

In 2001, the police investigated allegations of historic abuse in an Avon home. I re-wrote my manuscript and submitted it as evidence to police investigators. I used this as the basis for a novel, Bent Twigs, published in 2005. When revelations about Savile and Cyril Smith were made public I judged that the risks of litigation, although still real, were remote and wrote openly about my experiences.

My experience in Avon was not typical.  I was director of social services for the London Borough of Hackney from 1971–1973 where I greatly respected the integrity and professionalism of the chief executive and staff in legal and human resources services.

By no means all failures to respond adequately to child sexual abuse were due to factors outside the control of social services departments.  We were learning; but our efforts to grapple with problems were made more difficult by an unyielding corporate culture that placed the perceived needs of the authority far higher than those of children. The integrity and moral courage of the chief executive was all-important.

Nationally, social services whistle-blowers have not been treated kindly and at least one social services director was pensioned off by his employer with a gagging clause when he sought to take action after identifying child abuse by his staff. I hope the Inquiry will examine and comment on such gagging orders even if the law requires some information to remain outside the public domain.

I hereby attach, as evidence to the Committee, two pieces published on https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/category/avon/

Wally Harbert  12thSeptember 2016. 

NB. The two items from the website specified above and included with the evidence are Child protection in a hostile environment and Historic abuse in children’s homes – the management context.

2015 Feb 3 Cathy Fox Blog Historic Abuse in Children’s Homes – The Management Context by Wally Harbert [2] and 2014 Nov 9 Cathy Fox Blog Child Protection in a Hostile Environment by Wally Harbert [3]

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • Other useful sites are One in Four [C]
  • and Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area

Links

Links

[1] Wally Harbert website Abuse in children’s homes Evidence for the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual abuse http://wally-harbert.simplesite.com/425181312

[2] 2015 Feb 3 Cathy Fox Blog Historic Abuse in Children’s Homes – The Management Context by Wally Harbert https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/historic-abuse-in-childrens-homes-the-management-context-by-wally-harbert/

[3] 2014 Nov 9 Cathy Fox Blog Child Protection in a Hostile Environment by Wally Harbert https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/child-protection-in-a-hostile-environment-by-wally-harbert/

[4] Cathy Fox Blog Avon Category https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/category/avon/

Appendix 1

Historic Abuse in Children’s Homes – the Management Context

Wally Harbert

In recent years, nearly every police force in the country has examined historic abuse in children’s homes and we await further developments in the delayed independent national inquiry into child sexual abuse. I was a director of social services from 1970 to 1990 and have described how my job was at risk when I sought to protect children from abuse [1] . There is more to learn about how abusive behaviour flourished in the 1970’s and 80’s but it is important to analyse what we now know to better protect children in future. I give below my perspective of some of the issues that led to children being failed.

All kinds of abuse – verbal, emotional, physical and sexual are closely related. Where there is one kind of abuse others are commonly present or may follow. Sexual abuse may be part of a process of dominating or humiliating children. It can be a demonstration of power making children compliant. Once there is a loss of respect for human dignity, the weak are at the mercy of the strong. Coercion can take many forms. That is why it is important to respond vigorously to all allegations of wrong-doing in homes, even when the presenting symptoms may appear minor.

When I worked in mental health services in the 1950’s I saw at first-hand how disparities of power between users and providers can corrupt relationships, particularly in institutions where it is difficult to provide outside scrutiny. Events in the Catholic Church demonstrate that those motivated by strong religious convictions are not immune from sexual urges that can lead to abuse. There is no doubt that many of the cruelties and indignities inflicted on girls in Magdalene laundries arose from the vicarious sexual gratification it gave to priests and nuns. For these reasons I believe the pending government inquiry cannot sensibly be limited by an arbitrary definition of sexual abuse.

All Change
Social services departments were created in 1971 by amalgamating the work of local authority children’s, welfare and mental health services. The approved school system, run by the Home Office was also included together with some responsibilities formerly undertaken by the Probation and After Care Service. Hospital social workers were later transferred. There were substantial changes in 1974 to local authority boundaries which created larger authorities, including some entirely new counties. Management systems were also changed profoundly. Gone was the system by which town and county clerks led teams of chief officers as ‘first among equals’. They were replaced by or became chief executives with clear, overriding, authority.

Guidance on management systems was given to local authorities by the Bains Working Group [2]. This emphasised the need for strong central management in each authority. Unfortunately, the Working Group was composed of enthusiasts, none of whom had experience running public services for which local government existed. The report was used to justify excessively centralised control. As a result, some new monolithic authorities placed immense power in the hands of chief executives and party leaders who had little interest or knowledge of very sensitive services. That was fine where they were prepared to learn……

The local authority associations attempted to prepare local authorities for their new responsibilities. I addressed several meetings of local authority chief officers and councillors about the changes but there was little enthusiasm from participants. The education service took up the lion’s share of local authority budgets.

I ceased to be responsible for children’s services in 1990 so it is for others to judge the current quality of services. Inspection systems have been greatly strengthened but the move towards independent providers means that there remains intense pressure to minimise management and staff training costs – areas which were extremely weak in the 1970’s and 80’s.

The Inheritance
Throughout the 1960’s there was a vigorous debate about the organisation of care services for vulnerable children. Local authority children’s departments provided care and protection for those deprived of a normal home life while the Home Office was responsible, through the probation service and the approved school system, for young offenders. There was a strong desire to integrate the two systems.

In the 1960’s, I was a member of the Home Office Probation and After-care Advisory Board. We found no enthusiasm among probation officers for an amalgamation with local authority services. They preferred to relinquish their responsibilities for children altogether rather than follow their Scottish colleagues into a monolithic local authority family service in which they might lose their special status as a service to the courts. They were strongly supported in this by magistrates. In 1971 the new social services departments absorbed responsibilities for child offenders from the probation service and incorporated approved schools into an enlarged community homes system.

Community homes had been developed by children’s departments since 1948 when the Poor Law was broken-up. They were mostly small in size, domestic in character and close to the communities they served. Approved schools, now re-named, community homes with education (CHE’s), tended to be much larger and were often geographically isolated; staff in both services were largely untrained and came from a variety of backgrounds.

Staff in former approved schools were entitled to feel defensive. Probably no social services department employed anyone in its senior management team with significant approved school experience. Moreover, some had no senior manager with a background in child care services. Also, departments were under pressure to reduce management costs. The new centralised local authorities required senior managers and it seemed reasonable to some, that the cost should be met by cutting back on the cost of management in social services and other departments. In practice, a large bureaucratic centre made enormous demands on individual departments but it was difficult to persuade anyone that sizeable institutions like approved schools required management oversight. Thus, few social services management teams were capable of forestalling problems in former approved schools and they varied in how well they responded when failure became apparent.

Not only was the oversight afforded to former approved schools inadequate but two distinct residential child care systems continued, one endeavouring to be relaxed and informal, mirroring home life while the other, deliberately institutional and authoritarian with an emphasis on discipline and good order. In smaller homes, discipline and punishment were applied with reluctance as a last resort. In former approved schools, staff and children expected punishment to play a more central role. Many male staff had experienced National Service which ended in 1963 and some regimes for boys were distinctly militaristic.

When staff from the two services met as part of the new social services department, there could be tension as they competed for status and recognition. This was exacerbated because CHE’s were often called upon to admit children who were too unruly to be contained in other parts of the system. Official documents continued to refer to “Former Approved Schools” because pay and conditions were still negotiated separately. This made any kind of integration between the two workforces difficult to achieve and it proved impossible to harmonise underlying philosophies.

Many children requiring residential care had already been badly let-down by adults and were emotionally damaged. Residential services, especially former approved schools, were providers of last resort. They stepped in when education and health services claimed to have no suitable provision. Unlike schools and psychiatric units, they could not turn away children yet, in comparison, their staff were poorly paid, were less well educated and trained and less well supervised. After a high influx of violent offenders, rapists and arsonists, one officer in charge threatened to put-up a sign made famous by the Windmill Theatre after the London blitz. We never closed. This, he thought, might intimidate the visiting psychiatrist.

Psychiatric services for children and adolescents were highly selective and unable to meet the enormous need. In the County of Avon the position worsened in the 1980’s when it became necessary to withdraw social workers from child guidance clinics to meet the growing need in area teams for social workers to investigate and monitor allegations of abuse and neglect by families.

The new arrangements were impressive on paper. Each region was required by law to establish a Children’s Regional Planning Committee which assembled information about the various homes available and determined which would be regarded as regional resources open to other local authorities. There was a network of residential observation and assessment centres, some regional, and some local. In practice the care received by children was largely a matter of chance. Research showed that children assessed in residential units were most likely to be allocated to residential care and that the nearer children lived to a secure unit the more likely they were to be allocated a place in it.

The former approved schools system was in a time-warp and was overdue for reform, when it was transferred to local authorities in 1971. Some of the most sensitive and complex tasks in local government were now being undertaken by untrained and untutored staff. Meeting the needs of children from failed working class families was not on any political agenda.

Exercising Control
By the time they were admitted to CHE’s many children had been abandoned by fostering services and family group homes and were in conflict with their families. They were often frightened, resentful and angry. One of the first tasks for staff on admission was to control aggressive behaviour. This could require physical restraint to protect a child, other children or staff but it was rare to find a member of staff with any formal training in physical control.

Research suggested that there was a widespread belief among staff that, to express concern about controlling aggressive children was to admit failure; also, colleagues might be reluctant to intervene to help a struggling co-worker for fear of implying that he or she was failing [3]. CHE staff habitually denied to me and other managers that they experienced difficulty exercising control yet it was clear they faced enormous problems. This denial was worrying.

Some staff were superb at diffusing tense situations but others, unwittingly, provoked them. A study published in 1978 found, “few staff have had even the simplest instructions on how to take preventative action. Frequently they hasten into confrontation in which neither staff nor boy feels he can back-down without a significant loss of face”; when violence occurred, it was most commonly staff who struck the first blow [4].

By 1980, only 15% of staff in community homes were qualified. In the absence of strong theoretical models, clear guidance and effective supervision, staff used their own judgements as to what represented the best interests of children. Drawing on their own limited experiences, they invented systems for controlling unruly children. Fancy names like “regression therapy” and “pin-down” were given to the methods that were developed. Others adopted what they called, “a toughening-up regime” in which older children were encouraged to bully and intimidate (i.e. abuse) those younger than themselves. These were self-delusional devices to present crude retaliation, humiliation, abuse and punishment as sophisticated therapeutic techniques. Evidence suggests that some homes developed regimes that met violence with violence mistaking acquiescence by children as a sign of success.

Complaints from the public about the control of adolescents in community homes were fewer when offenders were cared for in large, remote institutions. But, increasingly, they were now cared for in small homes in ordinary residential streets. It became a priority to suppress disruptive behaviour to reduce the volume of criticism from neighbours. When their constituents complained about out-of-control children in a local home, councillors who, for years had shown no interest in children’s services began seeking information about staffing levels.

I explained to them that the shouting, screaming and swearing about which they received complaints occurred because the children knew neighbours would be provoked into complaining. When complaints proliferated, some children were moved around but policy options were limited to further improving the quality and quantity of staff or returning children to geographically remote institutions where, if shouting, screaming and swearing continued, it would not be heard by the public. There were stormy and uncomfortable meetings where some councillors searched for someone to blame but this was exhilarating stuff. Children now had the ear and the attention of policy-makers. In consequence, there was even greater pressure to improve services. This represented a seismic and unexpected shift of power.

At this time, a home might be judged by how far it was successful in keeping out of the newspapers. The harsh regime in a Leicester home was criticised by a coroner following the death of a child and the director of social services, who had been a distinguished children’s officer, reported “The unit is being far more successful with disturbed children than any similar establishment I know” [5a] .  She said about the officer in charge, “I don’t know quite what he is doing but he’s doing it very well” [5b]. When the police finally found out what he was doing he was sentenced to 24 years in prison plus five life terms for buggery, rape and indecent assault.

We should be careful not to sully the good name of every employee in residential children’s services during that period. Some community home staff worked with considerable skill and dedication. There were successes as well as failures. But good quality care was sometimes achieved at a heavy price in terms of stress to staff.

In larger homes it was relatively easy for staff to conceal abusive behaviour from the officer in charge. Shift systems complicated communications and children were generally disbelieved. Officers in charge tended to respond to allegations of abuse informally. It was not in their interests to acknowledge maltreatment.

During visits to a family group home a casual visitor was likely to see at firsthand how staff and children related to one another in unguarded moments. It was much more difficult to ascertain this in a CHE where, because everything was on a larger scale, there were seldom opportunities to discern the quality of relationships. Visitors placed greater reliance on the word of staff. This was true also for governors of homes who mostly took their responsibilities seriously, spending many hours on visits. But they almost invariably saw children in groups and were escorted by staff so had limited opportunities for casual exchanges with children.

Changing Services
At the end of the 1970’s I served on a government working partyvi which reported on observation and assessment services for children. It revealed how the sophistication of assessment processes was not matched by the quality of facilities available for children passing through the system. The number of children in residential care was artificially high because so many were assessed in residential centres where residential care was the predominate expertise; some CHE’s only accepted children who had passed through a residential assessment. The system was self-perpetuating.

Residential assessments were inclined to be flawed because, instead of judging needs based on how a child behaved at home, at school and in the community they studied how the child behaved when wrenched from home. We recommended greater flexibility knowing that if more assessments took place while children were living at home fewer would be sent to children’s homes.

Our terms of reference precluded a review of staffing arrangements in former approved schools but the report said about staff, “The lack of recruits of good calibre not only impoverishes the lives of children in care but it is clear to us that pressures of the job, inadequate staffing ratios and problems of recruitment have led to staff feeling unable to cope with many difficult youngsters” [5c]. It went on, “security is a matter of personal relationships, of close individual support and of constant personal involvement” [5d].

Mrs Thatcher gained her first election victory before the report was published. Political rhetoric was now about boot camps and short sharp shocks. Government ministers were in no mood to increase expenditure on the care of children in trouble. They did not accept that children who received poor quality care became recidivists in the next generation. An opportunity to improve staffing levels and staff training was lost. Indeed, social services departments were singled out for the most savage cuts of all.
There is no magic bullet that will transform the outlook of angry and distressed children. What most of them need is a period of calm in a safe environment where they can test-out relationships. They need opportunities to build self respect and gain a sense of achievement. That requires skilled and painstaking work by staff to build effective relationships. This is expensive but, in the long run saves money on health, criminal justice and other public services.

I was a professional adviser to employers on a national joint negotiating committee with trades unions for staff in former approved schools. It was soon clear that there was no basis on which we could reach agreement about the future shape of services. Progress would only be made by destroying existing provision and re-building from scratch. I took part in discussions about the future of former approved schools at two annual conferences of staff in CHE’s. Although everyone present accepted the need for change, they could only envisage a new package in which their service took the lead. This mirrored my experience locally. It did not offer a way forward.

The development of non-residential assessment services led to a reduction in the demand for care in CHE’s. Many staff from former approved schools could not be found a place in the new services being developed. Occupancy levels fell and unit costs rose prompting comments about the cost per place compared with places at top-end public schools. Closures were accelerated but there were no quick solutions. The closure of a large home could take many months. While managers struggled to provide an acceptable service with a depleted and demoralised workforce, staff felt abandoned. We can only guess at the impact this had on children.

Investigations into allegations of malpractice in homes at this time were greeted with a chorus of “You are trying to close us down” from staff and governors alike. Some behaved as though they had a moral duty to resist any criticism or change. In their way, the changes that were taking place were as profound as those occurring in heavy industry at the time. Closures evoked anger, fear, resentment and despair which had a direct effect on the quality of care and the behaviour of staff towards children. There was no national plan to ease the changes or lessen the pain and no precedent to follow.

The Political Dimension
Political tension and partisanship were strong in the 1970’s and 80’s. The three day week, the Winter of Discontent and the miners’ strike served as a backdrop. Militant Tendency caused havoc in some local authorities. People were asking “Who runs Britain?” and strikers were called, “The enemy within”. Mrs Thatcher was at her most strident. High political feelings over-spilled into committee meetings. Everything, including the care of children, was politicised.

I vividly recall reporting on the death of a child in care. I explained to the committee that a coach party of children was returning from London when it broke-down on the motorway. A boy ran across the carriageway and was killed. I intended to tell the committee about the number of staff present and the supervision arrangements but, when I explained that the trip had stopped-off at a demonstration about youth unemployment a member shouted ,
“Why the hell did they do that?”
“Because they need to know what your government is doing”, replied another.
“Well, see what happened to him. That wasn’t very clever was it?”
I gave the chairman a nudge and he moved the discussion on.

Any attempt to describe the attitude of councillors towards children’s services at this time is in danger of being a caricature and I do not know how far my experience is reflected elsewhere. Many councillors took their responsibilities seriously and did their best to improve services. However, few took a strategic view or resisted the commonly held belief that, in the light of financial constraints, the needs of children in care could not be a political priority.
A significant segment of the Labour Party took the view that managers could not be trusted and that the best child care experts were closest to the coal face. They persuaded themselves that the maltreatment of children was not an issue and that staff needed protection from over-zealous, college-trained, so-called, experts. They had the power to hinder investigations and to assist in hiding malpractices from view. Other Labour Party members had an entirely different approach but were unable to silence their colleagues. However, as opportunities arose, they fought fierce battles to radically increase staff ratios in homes and also strengthened the departmental management structure.

When the Conservative Party held power locally, leading politicians seemed to take the view that putting money into services for failed working class families yielded no political or social advantage. They kept staffing and salary levels to a minimum and froze vacant post arbitrarily. Some homes became little more than warehouses for wayward children.

Conclusions
Services for vulnerable children in England have a nomadic history and no natural home. Responsibility for them has moved from the Home Office, to the Health Department and, most recently, to Education. Locally, responsibility has relocated from Children’s to Social Services departments before arriving with Education. This reflects changing perceptions as well as uncertainty about core values. It is now on the periphery of a service that is substantially driven by a middle class constituency. That may not be to its advantage.

The Chief Inspector of Schools has drawn attention to falling educational standards for white working class children. He could have added that this does not augur well for children in care who mostly come from working class families that have failed. There is no effective pressure group. History tells us that the system will not work to the advantage of vulnerable children unless there is a champion in government and ring-fenced budgets. Without purposeful action backed by hard cash there will be future generations of neglected, forgotten and even abused children.

Those unfortunate enough to spend their childhood being humiliated and degraded by authority-figures develop a distorted view of the world. Given the widespread abuse that we now know existed in homes during the 1970’s and 80’s, it is little wonder that children in care are over-represented in the prison population. Two of the three jihadists in the Paris January shootings were, we are told, brought up in residential care. Is that coincidental? We know that some jihadists come from apparently well-adjusted families but it would not be surprising to discover that significant numbers were brought-up in demeaning circumstances, including poorly run-residential homes. Perhaps the lesson is that children deprived of affection become easy prey to religious radicalism as well as to Fagin.

THIS REPORT MAY BE REPRODUCED AND CIRCULATED IN FULL OR IN PART. IF IT IS PUBLISHED COMMERCIALLY, PLEASE MAKE A SUITABLE DONATION TO A  CHILDREN-RELATED CHARITY.

2nd February 2015.
Wally Harbert.

References and Links

[1] Wally Harbert Child protection in a hostile environment https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/child-protection-in-a-hostile-environment-by-wally-harbert/
[2]  The New Local Authorities HMSO 1972
[3]  Hargreaves, D. What teaching does to teachers. New Society. Vol 42. No. 805, p 541. March 1978.
[4] Milham, S. Bullock. R. and Hosie, K. Locking up Children. Saxon House p 63.
[5]  D’Arcy, Mark & Gosling, Paulo.  Abuse of Trust. Bowerdean. 1998. [5a] Pg 193, [5b] Pg21, [5c] pg 44,  [5d] pg 45.
[6] Observation and Assessment. Report of a Working Party. Department of Health and Social Security 1981.

[7] Bent Twigs by Wally Harbert

[8] CathyFox Bent Twigs by Wally Harbert https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/bent-twigs-by-wally-harbert/

betn twigsAppendix 2

CHILD PROTECTION IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT by Wally Harbert
In recent years, nearly every police force in the country has examined historic abuse in children’s homes. Fifty private schools have also been investigated. If organisations responsible for looking after children in the 1970’s and 80’s got it so wrong how can we blame the BBC for failures over Jimmy Savile or the Liberal Party over Cyril Smith? And what light does it throw on how it was possible for widespread abuse in Rotherham to be ignored over many years?
I describe here my experiences as a director of social services in the County of Avon between 1973 and 1990. The county was formed in 1973 from local authorities in Bristol, Bath and parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset. The social services department had over 6000 staff (about 4,500 full-time equivalents) in 250 buildings. The Council was abolished in 1996.
In the first section of this report I explain the impact of centralised control on the department and its work. I then give ten examples of how my job was at risk when I tried to protect children. The gains I made were commonly blunted by the retaliation that followed.
In the light of the current debate about public bodies failing to prevent child abuse and the government inquiry into historic abuse I consider this information should now be in the public domain.

1. CENTRALISED CONTROL
Avon was one of the most centralised councils in the country. My draft reports for the social services committee could be scrutinised and amended by central departments for months before being released. Like pooh sticks in a sluggish stream, drafts required constant prodding to rescue them from stagnant pools where they might sink forever. Yet, without approval from central departments, reports failed to reach committees. This insistence on corporate reports did not extend to documents launched by central departments whose turbo-charged pooh sticks sped direct to committees. I had to mitigate errors in them after they were approved.
Once agreed by the social services committee, staffing reports could take months to reach the personnel committee where new recommendations might appear. Then, reports might be kicked around by committees, sub-committees and joint committees for two or three years. A report on care homes was debated 26 times in three years. Few proposals were approved as I intended. Final decisions might not address vital issues. In contrast, swathes of posts could be frozen or deleted while I was at lunch.
The main preoccupation of many staff in the central administration was to build and maintain strong personal bonds with leading politicians – even if that meant hiding bad news, heaping blame on others or allowing services for vulnerable people to deteriorate. There were exceptions. The county treasurer was a man of integrity and exceptional ability. A legal officer who joined in the early 1980’s clearly struggled to reconcile his principles with systems that were abused by politicians and senior officers.
There were numerous occasions when the department and its services were damaged by the uninformed actions of others and by outright deceit; the following are among the best documented.

1.1. Joint projects
Joint projects were a nightmare. Low salaries for posts in a child abuse unit, funded initially by the health service, made them impossible to fill. I and the social services committee were then told they had been abolished because they were not needed. A training day I planned for departmental staff, probation officers, lawyers and others on family law was a disaster when the personnel director limited attendance to one member of staff. A new national training scheme for social workers required joint arrangements with other organisations in the south-west. At the last moment, trainee posts were abolished and Avon withdrew from the scheme. Relationships with colleagues in other services broke down. A hospital consultant stormed into the chief executive’s office demanding my dismissal for freezing vacant medical social worker posts without consulting him. Yet I was seldom consulted about which posts would be frozen or for how long.
1.2. Staffing in elderly persons homes
I wanted a review of staffing in children’s homes but this would reveal the need for more staff so the personnel department embarked on a study of homes for elderly people where it was known I was not seeking staff increases. After eighteen months a 155 page report was presented. With some pride, it was said that it had taken two man-years to prepare. It was embarrassingly superficial and criticised me for staffing arrangements that had been approved – and sometimes insisted upon – by personnel officers. It claimed that the staffing establishment was exceeded in some homes. If true, this meant there was improper expenditure which should have been dealt with when it was discovered – not twelve months later when the report was complete. I asked for details but none came.
At a joint meeting of the social services and personnel committees it was stated that the personnel committee had decided that, as a result of the report, no additional staff were required in homes and that it had “certain reservations” about my management. I had been found guilty at a meeting to which I was not invited. I said I was unable to reconcile information in the report with departmental records and suggested that it raised corporate issues requiring intervention by the chief executive. It was resolved to convene a meeting with the chief executive “as a matter of urgency”. The meeting did not take place, I made no changes as a result of the review and the matter was never discussed again in my hearing again.
When the Health Advisory Service, an independent inspection service, examined health and social services projects in Avon, the team thought staffing levels in some elderly persons’ homes were dangerously inadequate. I passed them a copy of the personnel department review. In response I received a two and a half page analysis unlike any document I have ever read. It was laced with such phrases as, “this is very crude thinking”, “a great injustice”, “questions left unanswered”, “shocking omissions”, misrepresentation of the position”, “misleading and damaging”, and “doubtful validity”. This response was denied a place on a committee agenda but I circulated it widely and received friendly warnings not to upset important councillors or officers in the central administration.
1.3. Hidden reports
I was sometimes aware that reports about the department which I had not seen were circulating among politicians. An assistant director told me of a meeting he attended with politicians. The personnel director would not let him see a report he passed round the table. He was assured the information it contained would be disregarded. This bemused him. On another occasion, the social services chairman handed me a report, prepared in the personnel department, which I had not seen. It contained inaccuracies. Personnel officers flatly denied its existence.
1.4. Cover ups
Three posts were declared, retrospectively, to be unauthorised because their creation had not been properly minuted. When they fell vacant I was required to forfeit other posts to fill them again. Despite repeateddiscussions with officers and councillors this was not resolved because no one was willing to prepare a report admitting responsibility for the error.
At my personal request, the director of personnel authorised an additional 11½ hours to a clerical post but later declared that the hours were “unauthorised”. We argued about this for seven months. He then resolved the problem by reporting to his committee that there had been confusion at the time of local government reorganisation. He knew this to be untrue.
After more than two years’ discussion I agreed the terms of a report with the personnel director, he added my name to it but failed to send me a copy of the final draft before its dispatch to committee members. It included a new recommendation we had not discussed that the social services department should fund two posts in the personnel department.
1.5. Closing the wrong home
I proposed the closure of a family group home in Bristol. The personnel director then brought forward the deadline. Early closure would unnecessarily disrupt children’s lives. Accordingly, I closed a home in Bath which, by chance, was about to lose all its children. This was a far better building and its loss would make it likely that, in future, Bath children would be accommodated outside the city. But the personnel chairman had bigger boots than his social services counterpart.
1.6. Starting salaries
By national agreement, if there was just a one day gap between candidate resigning his or her existing post and joining another authority, the starting salary was a matter for local discretion. Invariably, the personnel department paid the lowest rate possible. This created anger among candidates and despair for managers who, having coped with a vacancy for many months lost an outstanding candidate who was unwilling to accept a salary that did not recognise his or her many years of experience.
A group of staff campaigned about this claiming that it discriminated against women and that Avon was the only local authority in the country operating this policy. When the Council was faced with the prospect of an industrial tribunal a committee report was prepared recommending change. A draft implied that I was at fault. I produced correspondence going back nine years to demonstrate my opposition to it.
1.7. Heads will roll
I read in a newspaper that I had been criticised by councillors who were quoted saying, “Heads will roll”. Personnel officers had used raw data to show wide disparities in the cost per bed in residential homes. When I adjusted the figures for occupancy, took account of one home that had opened part way through the year and another that had a wing closed for repairs, I accounted for all the apparent disparities.
1.8. Withholding committee reports
The legal department was responsible for compiling committee agendas but it was customary for chairmen to be consulted. They often instructed that a report should be withdrawn or amended. This sometimes occurred at meetings where I was present but instructions were also passed direct to me or to the legal department.
Although I was willing to modify proposals to secure their passage through the political system I refused to recommend action I did not approve. (See 2. 7). Reports that displeased chairmen were routinely denied a place on agendas.
When I proposed the closure of a large home for girls I prepared a 123 page document about individual girls in residence. The chairman thought it too detailed and refused to place it on the agenda. A manager attended the committee meeting to provide verbal information but the decision to close the home was made without reference to him. A judge supported a legal challenge, finding that the committee had not considered the impact its decision might have on individual girls. The process of closure began again. The Press and many staff blamed me for what they saw as my failure to ensure that the girls were consulted.
While passionate debates about education flourished, there was little political interest in the care of children. In the early years, small children’s homes were dangerously understaffed and it was difficult to arouse concern about them among politicians. Larger homes with governors attracted greater interest.
Staff expressed extreme frustration about lengthy and insensitive decision-making processes. Instructions were relayed through my headquarters so they found it difficult to believe that decisions about salary levels, job advertisements, staff training and delayed appointments were made elsewhere. I, and senior managers, became targets for their frustrations. Those making decisions had no need to defend them or deal with the consequences.
Naturally, staff reporting to governors shared their dissatisfactions with them. In turn, governors angrily denounced me and wrote intemperate letters. They did not believe that someone called “director” directed so little. They wanted functions delegated to heads of homes that were not even delegated to me. They saw my headquarters as a vast, out-of-touch and uncaring bureaucracy that frustrated their best endeavours. That was how I saw the central administration.
Conflict between different levels in a large organisation is common but this was extreme. Governors were expected to bring independent oversight to the care of children but, faced by a common enemy, they joined with managers to attack the system. Some openly scoffed at the idea that “outsiders” who showed such a lack of understanding could comprehend the complexities of caring for delinquent children.

2. TWELVE NOTABLE BATTLES TO PROTECT CHILDREN
2.1, Trying to be heard
Before the staffing structure was operational I told the social services committee it was unworkable but members had been warned not to interfere with personnel policies. Salary grades were low. A post responsible for more than 60 elderly persons’ homes was graded lower than one responsible for 25-day centres and on the same level as a committee clerk in the central administration. In the first seven years there was never a time when all management posts in children’s residential services were filled. At least two managers of children’s services increased their pay when appointed to a home they previously managed – one as a deputy officer-in-charge. Managers with over one thousand staff had part time clerical assistance and sat in open-plan. Avon had the advantage of a clean slate but created a structure riddled with anomalies.
When criticised at chief officers’ meetings, the personnel director said his recommendations were dictated by his chairman. The chief executive did not seem to think that was remarkable yet the Nuremberg trials were well within living memory. When I chided members of the personnel committee about their decisions they said they accepted recommendations from the personnel director. This was the Reverse Nuremberg Defence. Avon had created the Nuremberg Loop in which each party blamed the other for decisions they could not defend.
The social service committee requested an urgent report, the personnel director failed to attend a meeting with the chairman as requested. A report prepared by officers from three departments was agreed by the social services committee but, when it reached the personnel committee, a covering statement said, “Although the personnel department was anxious to offer advice and assistance in the preparation of this report it was not afforded the opportunity”. If there had been a communication failure, which there had not, the six week interval between the two committee meetings was ample time for consultation.
I received a written warning from the legal department having been accused, tried, convicted and sentenced at a meeting at which I was not present. What kind of legal department would do that? Rumours spread among my staff that I was to be dismissed. I confronted the personnel director with the chief executive. He said his report had been dictated by a politician. The most likely explanation is that his chairman resented his social services counterpart discussing personnel matters with “his” officers and forbade them to attend. The county was not just dysfunctional, it was morally corrupt. I began keeping meticulous notes so that I could defend myself.
I fought hard to attend meetings of the personnel committee but was told by politicians that the committee, “does not have time to listen to you” and, “you should not interfere with personnel matters.” I eventually convinced the Council Leader that I should attend but was refused permission to speak so stayed away. There was no point listening to ill-informed comments unless I could respond.
The chief education officer resigned saying the management of his service was fragmented between so many committees and departments that it had no effective direction. I considered following his lead but I had a large family and had moved house often. My eldest son had attended seven schools by the age of eleven. The soil was unpromising but it was time to put down roots.
2. 2. Staffing family group homes
Despite repeated requests, the director of personnel refused to honour a promise to review staffing in children’s services after a year. I therefore prepared my own review.
The Council had about forty children’s homes, mostly small family group homes. Their physical layout meant children were accessible to staff even when staff were off duty. To take a night off, they must vacate their bed for relief staff. Limited career opportunities, stressful working conditions and unsocial hours led to high staff turnover. It was mainly young single women who tolerated such conditions. The system had been designed for young children but the age of children in care had been rising and many had behaviour problems. One in seven was incontinent. It was increasingly difficult to provide suitable day-time activities for children excluded from school. Untrained and inexperienced staff were unable to carry the burdens we placed upon them.
My report explained these problems and proposed 21 new posts in 31 family group homes to raise staffing levels to nationally recommended standards. I also sought improvements to the management structure. Much of the cost could be met by re arranging existing budgets and I envisaged implementation over two years. The personnel director declined to comment so, under the Council’s rules, the report could not be considered by a committee. Following pressure from me a working group of councillors discussed them at three meetings and resolved that the report and its minutes should be considered by the full committee.
Neither the report nor the minutes reached the social services committee and I was criticised for being disloyal by insisting on the report being considered by councillors against the wishes of the leadership
2. 3. Dodgy Dossiers
Freezing vacant posts caused immense problems in family group homes which commonly had one member of staff on duty for long periods. If staff sickness coincided with a post being frozen or a sick child needing constant attention, the home was placed in turmoil.
Meanwhile a senior opposition councillor was publically and relentlessly condemning residential managers which emboldened the chief executive to freeze vacancies. I constantly told him that this was dangerous. He answered that I should delete children’s management posts and transfer the duties to managers controlling elderly persons’ homes. This was his way of telling me that no social services job required a distinctive skill or experience.
In 1980 vacant posts in homes were frozen for a lengthy period. One home had seven temporary house-parents in six months as staff were moved between homes to cover gaps. Activities like Scouts, Guides and ballet lessons were frequently cancelled through lack of staff to escort children; parents’ evenings at schools were not attended; children were taken to casualty departments by other children; a girl of 15 attended her grandmother’s funeral alone. Back-to-back shift working was common; some staff worked from their sick beds; more than ten staff in homes submitted sick notes citing stress; one attempted suicide. In the middle of a shift, one stressed woman telephoned for assistance from a colleague in a neighbouring home. When he arrived she left the building and was not seen again. There was evidence of sexual activity among children in homes and I prepared a report giving 29 recent examples including rape, promiscuous behaviour and homosexual activity.
If poor quality care is inevitable it may be better for it to take place in the child’s own home or in lodgings rather than in an understaffed home so some children were hastily moved on. Well after I retired a newspaper reporter telephoned to tell me a girl from an Avon home found her way to Fred and Rosemary West’s lodging house. He gave no further details but it is a reminder of the vigilance required when children leave care.
My protests to the chief executive and councillors about frozen vacancies were ignored, including a request for intervention to avoid “a scandal of national proportions”. Eventually, one of my strongly-worded letters was quoted at a Council meeting.
Social services members were reluctant to become involved but were not prepared to see my blood on the carpet. The committee recorded its “full support for and confidence” in me. It showed no interest in what was happening in its homes.
Recruitment returned to normal but a chorus of voices claimed I had appointed social workers at the expense of care staff. I had anticipated this and had documentary evidence of informing politicians and others of the effect of recruitment policies as well as draft reports that had failed to reach committees.
Recruitment processes were transparent. Every post filled was cleared for advertising and, later, for filling by the chief executive and personnel director. I had also adhered to a ruling to keep within an “authorised manning level” by retaining at least 164.84 officer vacancies at all times. This was achieved without computerised records or electronic communication. Pooh sticks needed constant prodding.
A legal officer was asked to assemble information about my criticisms. His report was largely irrelevant and listed anonymous smears, half-truths and innuendo but did not investigate them. Criticisms of me began, “It has been suggested to me….”. “He (me) is understood to …”. And, “I am told that….” Comments began, “As far as I am aware…” and “I can find no record of…”.No reference was made to the quality of care. Almost every criticism was contradicted in the report and its appendices which contained copies of memoranda from me. Information supplied by the director of personnel was factually incorrect.
The report said, “had it not been for the filling of social services posts, the overall employment level of the Council would have stabilised”. What message was this trying to convey? In a letter to the chief executive I demolished the report, paragraph by paragraph and I never heard it discussed. A sub-committee met to consider it but ignored it. A report was passed round the table and a personnel officer said more posts were filled than a year earlier. This was untrue. The meeting closed before I read the report which made no reference to sickness levels. I was refused information I needed to check the figures it contained.
We had reached stalemate. Publication of the two dossiers would greatly damage the authors and the Council but I knew that ways would be found to make it impossible for me to retain my post. A face-saving formula was needed. I refused to make a public apology but agreed to say something that sounded like an apology – the only time in my career that I did a deal with politicians. It was surreal – like being choreographed into the role of a dissident in a 1930’s Moscow show-trial. I had always said it could never happen here……
An investigation was ordered into the department but it petered out after two years. The officer who wrote one of the dossiers was promoted soon afterwards and played a leading role in other incidents described below. When he retired the Council paid for Counsel’s Opinion to enhance his pension to the maximum legal limit.
2.4. Saving day nurseries
I learned that the estates committee chairman intended to close two day nurseries on the grounds that the buildings were beyond repair. A close relative of the Leader, he was known to believe that nurseries encouraged feckless mothers. We had far worse buildings but I did not control the budget for repairs and maintenance. Closure would require more costly and less effective provision for children on the abuse register. I was determined to make my views known before they were closed but my presence would not be welcome at a meeting of the estates committee and I might not be permitted to speak. I reported the matter to a meeting of the social services committee where the Press were excluded. The opposition informed the Press. In the ensuing uproar, the Leader issued a statement saying the buildings would be repaired. There was extreme anger but I avoided another written warning.
2. 5. Protecting abusers
After elections, power transferred from Conservative to Labour. I was summoned to meet two leading councillors and told to stop disciplinary proceedings against a staff member accused of overt sexual behaviour in a small children’s home. They were astonished when I refused. A second meeting made no progress and I was unavailable when a third meeting was called. The manager who represented me said the department would action instructions from the chief executive. None came. At a disciplinary hearing the staff member was transferred to duties away from children.
Leading politician now sometimes shouted derogatory comments at me about staff discipline across committee tables or along corridors with an audience of councillors who were clearly embarrassed and determined not to take sides. Arrangements for a disciplinary hearing would trigger a demand for a full report which was passed to staff. Yet councillors conducted the appeals process so could overturn disciplinary decisions. Some councillors were aggressive to mangers at appeal hearings and local managers expressed dismay when misbehaving staff were reinstated.
Some Labour councillors were tightly controlled by ward committees where Council staff were active. At least one ward committee was chaired by a trades union official and some of my staff openly boasted that they controlled councillors. Personnel officers now took more interest in staff disciplinary matters, urging caution and arguing that it was unwise to discipline staff if councillors were likely to overturn the outcome. I and my managers decided it was better to have decisions overturned than ignore unacceptable behaviour.
I have described (2. 2.) how a report on the need for better staffing in homes failed to reach a committee. That report had stated that the management structure was so poor that allegations of bad practice in homes were not being adequately investigated. But no one in the central administration expressed concern and the social services chairman said he had no authority to dispute personnel decisions. We muddled through.
One senior councillor publically called children’s residential managers, “silent, ghost-like figures that wander about the corridors”. He once pointed to a group of them and said, loudly, “That lot will have to go”. There was a danger that some might decide not to pursue an errant member of staff if the reward was a hate-filled public attack to which they could not reply. I explained my concerns to a sub-committee. Later, the principal offender angrily waved the minutes in my face saying, “I’ll get you for this”.
2.6. Consulting staff
I regularly circulated staff consultation documents but was now told they must be discussed with trades unions ahead of anyone else, including managers. I said I must consult appropriate managers to be sure that new proposals were feasible. I was then summoned to meet a councillor and was unexpectedly confronted by the Council Leader, two chairmen, the chief executive, the director of personnel and two personnel officers. In an ill-tempered interview I was accused of refusing to obey instructions and asked for an assurance that I would co-operate in future. I claimed the right to express my views and asked for examples of non cooperation but none were given. A consultation document on children’s services was currently being prepared and I felt obliged to ask the director of personnel how it should be released. He took 27 months to respond.
2.7. Trying to protect the social services budget
Staff in the chief executive’s office increased more than thirteen-fold in six years. They were uncoordinated and uncontrolled, recommending actions that further centralised control and, suggesting the transfer of social services funds to develop their work. They had the ear of Council leaders and the chief executive. Meanwhile, the district auditor revealed that the Council had nearly three times the number of personnel officers as comparable authorities. He said this did not relieve the social service department of personnel work. Yet there were continual attempts by the central administration, including the personnel department, to grab parts of my budget. Some were successful.
Staff strains were apparent when child protection work escalated. This was an opportunity for the Council to redistribute £300,000 (at 1983 prices) the district auditor identified as its excess spending on personnel services. This would provide each of my six area managers with an additional member of staff for child protection and allow the employment of another legal officer.
But the social services chairman told me to recommend the social services committee to meet the cost of an additional legal post in the central administration. I said I could not recommend it but offered to refer to his wish in a report. I was then alerted by a friendly back-bencher, that I was to be disciplined for refusing to obey the chairman. This was farcical. A Council that froze staff vacancies in homes without consulting me did not need my endorsement to raid the social services budget. The transfer of funds duly took place against my advice.
2.8. Investigating abuse
I informed the chairman of governors of a large home for boys that I intended to investigate allegations of abuse at the home. I was criticised at a combined meeting of governors and staff and accused of fabricating an excuse to close the home. A trades union refused to cooperate amid demands for the investigation to be investigated. The chief executive obliged. His terms of reference, what he discovered and to whom he reported were not revealed to me. His intervention delayed the investigation when the team was attempting to speed the process to reduce its demoralising impact on staff and boys. At least one team member believed he might be summarily relieved of his duties and kept duplicate notes at home in case they were required in his own defence. He and his colleagues were probably right to believe their promotion prospects had been damaged.
Staff at the home complained that they and their families were threatened and had their cars deliberately scratched. This, and conflicting loyalties, persuaded some entirely blameless staff, to conceal what they knew. Seven staff were interviewed under disciplinary procedures and at least one was dismissed. It might be expected that some satisfaction would be expressed that abusing staff had been identified and disciplined but the messages reaching me were that I had besmirched the good name of a home.
Unsurprisingly, some years later, the police identified abuse that had been missed.
2.9. Records
The personnel director advised me that he had agreed with trades unions that information about disciplinary action would be deleted from files after a year. I authorised their continued retention indefinitely. Well after my retirement, the police asked whether I knew the whereabouts of the cabinet in which these illicit records had been stored. In another call, the police said their copy of the report on staff misbehaviour described in 8 above had the names of disciplined staff redacted. This had been done on instructions of the council’s solicitor.
2.10. Was there a Mr Big?
Following concerns about a misbehaving teacher in a home with education, I could not persuade his employer, the education director, to take disciplinary action. If the teacher had been a social services employee he would have been disciplined, possibly dismissed. The home contained some of the most troubled and troublesome adolescent boys from across the country. Tension was high and speedy action was needed to protect boys and staff. I indicated my intention to exclude the teacher but a solicitor, backed by the chief executive, forbade it so I said that I was no longer responsible for the home and advised the health department to find out who was now in charge. Once again, only by gambling with my job was I able to find a way forward without leaving children at risk.
My information is that the health department told the chief executive that I had been approved by the Secretary of State to manage the home and, unlike most homes, if I were impeded in that task without good cause the Secretary of State had the power to close it.
The prospect of a confrontation with the government saw hitherto formidable legal barriers fall away. The chief executive negotiated personally with a union official to transfer the teacher to a school. An extensive training package was offered and there would be an “independent inquiry” into the way the officer-in-charge had handled the situation. The chief executive attended a governors’ meeting to finalise arrangements. The social services budget was debited by £22,000 to retrain the teacher and the chief executive announced that he would conduct the inquiry personally. Was there more to this story than I knew?
I resumed responsibility for the home not knowing the nature of the complaint against the officer-in-charge. Ill-feeling was to be expected. Despite running one of the most challenging homes in the country, he had been told that neither he, nor I had authority to exclude a misbehaving teacher. But the inquiry was undertaken to please trades unions. Having been warned off me by the health department, someone else was targeted.
At a committee meeting I objected that the chief executive had already criticised the officer-in-charge and was not, therefore, independent. The inquiry was carried out by the personnel officer who had prepared the reports described in 1.2 and 2.3 above so I knew what kind of document to expect. The officer-in-charge deserved better than a game of charades with someone without relevant training or experience who had already been discredited. I was not asked to give evidence. About a year passed before the inquiry concluded by which time I had left the Council.
Some years later the teacher was arrested for an offence against a child whilst employed at the home.
Since retiring I have been drawn into discussions by the police and others about whether there was a paedophile ring in Avon protected by a Mr Big. I have no reason to believe that officers or councillors behaved inappropriately towards individual children. But, as in Kincora House, Belfast, where collusion between officers and politicians led to boys being abused over a long period, there were strong personal, political, and religious alliances that I could not penetrate between people at high levels in the Council and staff and governors in homes. Senior officers showed an alarming enthusiasm for pleasing councillors as opposed to offering sound advice. Also, I and my managers were deliberately and consistently undermined. This was an ideal scenario in which a paedophile ring could flourish.
I have seen no evidence that a group of people conspired to abuse children. However, nothing would surprise me. If confronted with the choice of protecting children or protecting a misbehaving councillor, I could not be sure that some senior officers had the moral courage to make the right decision. Nor could I be sure that they would refuse a demand from a politician to cover-up something unsavoury. The attitudes of senior officers cascaded through their departments to others who had access to homes. To that extent, Avon children were always vulnerable.
I believe naiveté, incompetence and a wish to please staff together with an urge to control things they did not remotely understand caused some senior officers and councillors to damage services. As with Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, it was often convenient to look the other way. But this was more reprehensible in Avon because the care of children was one of the county’s core functions. Children were simply not heard and, as a matter of routine, lower standards and higher risks were tolerated than any councillors or senior officers would accept for their own children.

Wally Harbert 3rd November 2014.

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • Other useful sites are One in Four [C]
  • and Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area

 [A] Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/for-survivors-coping-with-triggers-if.html

 

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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...
This entry was posted in Avon, Books about Child Abuse, cathy fox blog, Child Abuse, Child sexual abuse, Childrens home, Council Response, Hackney, IICSA Goddard / Jay child sexual abuse Inquiry, IICSA Independent panel inquiry into child sexual abuse, Other bloggers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wally Harbert’s submission to IICSA

  1. Pingback: Wally Harbert’s submission to IICSA — cathy fox blog | circusbuoy

  2. brianpead says:

    As usual, all good stuff. Following on from Wally’s submission, I also submit my book FROM HILLSBOROUGH TO LAMBETH – currently banned (unlawfully and without due process) at the High Court. In their usual Government-speak, Lambeth Council said I trying to “re-write history” – the reality is far different: I am EXPOSING their corrupt practices. They really will do ANYTHING to cover up the truth of their sordid little deeds. They are the ones trying to re-write history into a neat little white-washed narrative to avoid sending Lambeth Councillors and officers to prison. Here’s a few more names of corrupt perpetrators within Lambeth: Phyllis Dunipace OBE, Cathy Twist, Judith Hare, Barry Gilhooly, Clare Cobbold … Kind regardsBrian Pead Sent using Hushma

  3. Pingback: How a Local Authority Failed Children in its Care – Sexual Activity in Community Homes | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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