Nottingham

'Hundreds sexually abused in Nottinghamshire's care system'

The former Beechwood children's home
Image caption Beechwood Community Home was found to be "riddled with abuse" from the late 1960s to the late 1980s

More than 300 people say they suffered sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire's care system, a national inquiry has heard.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), led by Prof Alexis Jay, is hearing evidence for the next three weeks.

Patrick Sadd, counsel to the inquiry, said 343 individuals have come forward to say they were abused.

Stephen Simblet, who represents 34 victims, said "vulnerable" children were "abjectly failed" for decades.

Mr Sadd told the inquiry that since 1987 there had been repeated warnings about abuse, but many survivors felt they would not be believed.

A list of failings by both the city and county councils in the protection of children in care were mentioned during the hearing.

Beechwood Community Home in Mapperley - which police found to be "riddled with abuse" from the late 1960s to the late 1980s - was singled out by Mr Sadd.

Investigations led to the conviction of Andris Logins, who was jailed for 20 years in March 2016, for abusing two girls and two boys at Beechwood between 1980 and 1984.

Both male and female former residents described being routinely sexually abused by members of staff and being too afraid to report it, the inquiry was told.

One witness said to investigators: "When a grown man turns around and says: 'I'm going to kill you' - what does a child say to that?"

Staff allegedly refused to act when they heard reports of girls in the home being sucked into prostitution, telling inspectors: "Often girls sent to us come with a history of being involved in prostitution."

A visiting psychologist in the 1980s described the home, which closed in 2006, as "appalling and squalid".

Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption Andris Logins was in his 20s when he abused children at Beechwood Community Home

Mr Simblet told the inquiry one of his clients said her shoes were taken from her and only given back if she gave staff at one home oral sex.

He said "vulnerable" children were "abjectly failed" for decades.

"This is just the tip of a very big iceberg," he said.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, speaking on behalf of 46 complainants, said the response from authorities made victims reporting allegations feel there was "a deliberate cover-up".

'Systematic failure'

One boy who "was raped and sexually abused repeatedly" was treated as if he was a rent boy and ended up with a criminal record, she told the inquiry.

"This was total systematic failure on a huge scale," she said.

The inquiry is due to scrutinise failings by Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council.

Two weeks ago the city council apologised to the victims of abuse.

In January, county council leader Kay Cutts said the authority had "failed" children entrusted to its care and issued an apology.

She added: "The fact that this happened is something that leaves me personally feeling deeply saddened and ashamed."

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