5th Dec, 2016

Inquiry to take place into how council handled sex abuse allegations

Les Reid 15th Apr, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

AN inquiry will take place into how Coventry City Council handled allegations of historic sex abuse at a care home.

It comes as alleged victims, now adults, have stepped forward to complain about how they were treated at the former council-run Wysteria Lodge care home in the 1980s, and since.

It follows the convictions in February of two social workers there – Kenneth Owen and Alan Todd, both 70 – for sexual and physical assault of youngsters in their care.

Some former residents have since told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire they had made complaints to Coventry City Council, but the authorities had turned a blind eye.

Now Coventry Safeguarding Children Board has confirmed it will hold a formal investigation into the wider allegations.

Its chairwoman, Janet Mokades, said: “Now people do believe they will be heard, and so they can come forward and see it’s possible for bodies like the Safeguarding Children Board to actually drag all this out into the light of day in a way that means you can ensure it’s not happening now and it won’t happen in the future.”

Warwick Crown Court had heard Todd and Owen ran a ‘a regime of terror’ at the demolished home in Earlsdon Avenue South, and they were finally jailed last month for their crimes.

Todd, from Stretton-under-Fosse, Warwickshire, was jailed for eight years and two months for six indecent assault and five cruelty charges.

Owen, from Dickon Hill Road in Boston in Lincolnshire, was given four years and four months after being found guilty on five cruelty charges.

Judge Alan Parker said the pair carried out ‘grotesque’ abuse of children, with ‘wickedness and depravity’.

After the convictions, Coventry City Council apologised to the victims.

In a statement, it said: “These crimes happened a number of years ago and the safeguards we have in place now make it a priority for the voice of the child or young person to be heard.”

The CSCB is made up of senior representatives from the key statutory child protection agencies including the police, health and voluntary organisations.

It explores how local services and professionals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Coventry council’s children’s services has been rated ‘inadequate’ by watchdog Ofsted since an inspection in the wake of the murder of Coventry schoolboy Daniel Pelka, and the number of children in care or with child protection plans in the city remains very high.