Full set of reports from the 1991 Frank Beck Trial #3Posted: July 10, 2014
November 29th, 1991
Leading Article: ‘Homes out of range’
RUNNING residential homes for children has moved on since Frank Beck operated in Leicester in the 1970s. Far fewer children are in homes than when Mr Beck was committing the sexual abuse of children under his care. There are not just fewer children in care, but even fewer in residential homes. Fostering and adoption are now the preferred options. And for those in care there is now more protection. The new Children Act introduced more consultation with children, a two-stage complaints procedure, and independent visitors who are meant to visit, advise and befriend children in residential homes. And yet, in truth, many problems of residential care remain.
Although there are fewer children, they are frequently more disturbed and disruptive. Further, there are proportionately more adolescents, always the most difficult age group to control. After the pindown scandal in Staffordshire, we have extensive rules on what residential staff are prohibited from doing: corporal punishment, withdrawal of food and drink, imposition of fines, locking doors (unless classified as a secure unit), or requiring the children to wear clothes which would damage their esteem. But there is almost no guidance on the sanctions which can be applied, what can be done, except withholding pocket money and stopping night excursions. Yet, two decades ago, many of these children would have been in prison.
It is in such a void that the Becks and the Staffordshire pindown boss flourish: charismatic people who can handle difficult children who no one else wants to deal with. Yet the abuses in Leicestershire and Staffordshire are unacceptable. It is time ministers examined the procedures of pioneering homes like Masud Hoghughi’s Aycliffe to see how easy it would be to spread their eclectic approach to disruptive children.
There are other problems. Raising the social work and managerial skills of the heads and deputy heads of residential homes was one promised reform in the post-pindown report. But there are about 1,300 managers with inadequate qualifications. And, beyond, it is clear that, if residential care is to succeed in helping psychologically damaged children, the skills of the entire residential team must be raised – along with their pay and conditions.
One other issue has still to be resolved: the independent inspection of residential homes. Social service inspectors who failed so dismally in the pindown scandal are being reshaped and revamped. Ministers have been talking about local councils getting their own arm’s length inspectors. But this falls far short of the independent monitoring necessary. Both in Staffordshire and Leicestershire, collusion must have occurred. Ministers have now, imperatively, to ensure there is proper monitoring of the care which these vulnerable children receive.
November 30th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘Service in Marines shaped career’
FRANK Beck, aged 49, was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and was educated in Croydon, south London, before joining the Royal Marines when he was 17.
Beck served almost ten years with the marines, becoming a sergeant and serving in Singapore, Malaysia and Aden.
After leaving the forces he went into the probation service because of his experience with young people. He worked at probation hostels in Leicester and Northampton and was later offered a post with Northamptonshire social services.
He said that he was introduced to regression therapy at the Highfields Centre in Northampton. Beck then took a two year, full-time social work course before he applied for a job with Leicestershire social services. Beck was offered a post as officer in charge of the Poplars children’s home in Market Harborough. The home was closed during rationalisation in 1975 and Beck, together with some of his staff, moved to the Ratcliffe Road home in Leicester, where he was again in charge.
For a short time in 1978, Beck acted as relief head of another social services care home in Market Harborough and then took over at the Beeches, Leicester Forest East. He was there until he resigned in 1986.
Ratcliffe Road, which dealt with children aged between 11 and 17, closed two years ago. The Beeches was shut in February. The two homes were at the centre of most of the allegations against Beck and were declared surplus to requirements by the county council, which has gradually reduced the number of children in residential care from more than 300 in 1974 to 76 this year, in keeping with new attitudes to care it shares with other authorities.
Beck was a Liberal Democrat councillor on Blaby district council, Leicestershire, between 1983 and 1990.
November 30th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘DPP has no case against Janner’
THE office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is to take no action against Greville Janner, QC, the MP for Leicester West, who was alleged, during the trial of Frank Beck,to have had a sexual relationship with a boy in care.
Mr Janner, aged 63, was interviewed by Leicestershire police at his own request over allegations made by Mr A, now aged 30, and a file was sent to the DPP. Other sources have also indicated that no evidence had been found by police to substantiate the allegations.
Mr Janner’s name was first mentioned in connection with the case when Beck made an outburst during committal proceedings. The MP said then that the claims were nonsense.
Mr A, called as a defence witness for Beck, claimed that he began a relationship with Mr Janner when he was 13 and that it lasted two years before it was stopped by Beck. Mr Janner’s solicitors then said that the MP had been advised the matter was sub judice and that he could not comment while the case was still under way.
Peter Joyce, QC, for the prosecution, had urged the jury to ignore the claims. He said that they were a red herring designed to divert attention from Beck and added: ”Greville Janner is not on trial here.”
His parliamentary office yesterday issued a statement saying the MP would deal with the issues raised by the case in the Commons next week. It is expected that he will speak during a debate on the operation of the law of contempt. Mr Janner said: ”This matter raises issues which go far beyond my own personal position and in my opinion the appropriate place to deal with them is in the House of Commons.” Mr Janner and his wife Myra have been married for 35 years and have three grown-up children. He is one of the best known leaders of Britain’s 350,000-strong Jewish community. A former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the prominent Labour backbencher is an outspoken friend and defender of the state of Israel.
At the last general election, Mr Janner had a majority of 1,201. He made his mark as a campaigner on causes ranging from the homeless to the release of Soviet Jewry. As secretary of the all-party war crimes group, he was at the forefront of the campaign to prosecute alleged Nazi war criminals living in Britain.
November 30th, 1991
John Vincent, ”Travesty’ sickens director’
THE director of Leicestershire social services said last night that he felt sick about what happened to the children in care and described the affair as a travesty.
Brian Waller told a news conference at the end of the Frank Beck case: ”One can only feel sick in the pit of one’s stomach that in a department ostensibly there to help people … these quite awful events were taking place.
It is really a travesty of what Leicestershire social services was set up to do and in many cases does very well.
”These men entirely abused the trust put in them, in seeking gratification from the people in their care because of their vulnerability.”
The four homes where the convicted men abused the children had been closed, he said, and since the men’s arrest further steps, including checks on care quality, had been taken to improve the standard of care.
Mr Waller said the county council’s insurers would consider ”as sympathetically as possible” compensation claims from the abused.
Allan Levy, QC, chairman of the ”pindown” enquiry which investigated reports of child abuse in Staffordshire children’s homes earlier this year, said: ”I have great fears for many childrn. I suspect that the scandals which have come to light in the last year are not isolated and that we shall hear of many more.”
November 30th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘Therapy method made children ‘ripe for abuse”
THE regression therapy introduced to Leicestershire by Frank Beck was the guise behind which perverts had taken their pleasure, the prosecution said at his trial.
The court was told that the therapy involved taking deeply disturbed children back to experiences they had missed in their early years. Some were treated as babies, being carried by staff, cuddled and fed from bottles.
Emotionally damaged children as young as eight, often from broken homes and who had suffered abuse by their parents, were forced by insults or physical contact to have tantrums, then were calmed and offered affection.
The jury was told that children were taken back to a state of isolation, loneliness and vulnerability that made them rpe for abuse, and easy meat for the powerful, dominating personality of Frank Beck. It is likely that Beck modified regression therapy during his work in Leicestershire and may well have added elements of the stern discipline he was taught during military training.
Brian Waller, who took over as director of social services in 1988, two years after Beck resigned in disgrace, said the therapy had not been used in the county before Beck arrived and it had no place in good child care.
Beck developed a reputation as the care homes officer who would willingly take the most difficult and disturbed children, especially adolescents. For some, he was a shining light, finding a new way to deal with apparently hopeless cases. Articles were written about his methods in social work magazines.
Dorothy Edwards, social services director between 1974 and 1980, said: ”We had some question marks about the therapy because some of the adolescents would run up and hug Mr Beck and other members o staff. It seemed an odd thing for adolescents to do, but nevertheless it seemed to us, during (Beck’s) time there, that some of the children were being helped by this therapy.”
David Hunt, who was only 11 or 12 when he was ”regressed”, told the court: ”You were expected to behave like very young children. I saw children with dummies in their mouths children of my age.” He said a social worker had told him his mother was a slag and his father was a drunk, to get him angry.
Irena Halonka, a former teacher at the Beeches home, said she was disturbed at the way some children were given the treatment. Some were hit and others verbally abused. ”Girls were called sluts, revolting, disgusting and told nobody loved them.” Boys were called homosexual.
Peter Jaynes, Beck’s former deputy and co-defendant, said the philosophy was to ”break children before caring for them”. He agreed that children were tortured and battered into submission.
Beck said in evidence that the application of the therapy was like a ladder, with the rungs representing a stage of development. Some rungs could be missing with a damaged person, and regression involved identifying the missing rung and replacing it.
November 30th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘Why no action was taken against Beck’
Years of concern about Frank Beck, jailed yesterday for abuse of children in care, failed to bring action to end his reign of terror. A report to Leicestershire county council tells the story, Craig Seton writes.
”OVERWHELMING” evidence existed that would have enabled Leicestershire social services to have taken decisive action against Frank Beck up to four years before his suspension and resignation in 1986, a confidential internal report for the authority has disclosed.
The report, sent to the health department, also said that it was extraordinary that Beck had been given a reference by the Leicestershire authority, after his resignation, that made no mention of his suspension or of police investigations into allegations of child abuse.
What is now known is that Beck went on to work with children again, as deputy manager of a children’s home in Brent, north London. Allegations that Beck was abusing children, suspicions about his homosexuality and police investigations of ill-treatment were recorded against him, but there appeared to be an unwillingness by senior officials to take action.
A draft of the report, by Barry Newell, the former deputy director of Nottinghamshire social services called in to investigate the affair, also shows that the former officer in charge of three council-run children’s homes between 1973 and 1986 was allowed to foster a boy in care despite a complaint that he was homosexual and a police investigation that led to him appearing in court charged with assaulting a boy.
Mr Newell’s report has shocked officials and Leicestershire county councillors, and an enquiry was announced last night into the handling of complaints.
The scale of Beck’s sexual and physical abuse of children and care staff did not become fully known until a chance remark by a former victim led to a police enquiry last year. However, Mr Newell’s report, compiled from contemporary records, suggests that a dossier of complaints, suspicions, police investigations and other concerns had begun to be amassed from the early Eighties.
1980: allegation of violence against girl, aged 15; Beck warned that incidents of malpractice should not be ”swept under the carpet”.
January 1982: staff at the Beeches, in Leicester, where Beck was in charge, complained about treatment of young people; Beck sought approval as foster parent.
June 1982: complaint to social worker that Beck had homosexual relationship with boy he planned to foster.
July 1982: report for foster approval indicated allegation of homosexuality but argued ”no need to pursue”; Beck charged with assault on boy in care, but received letters of support from staff; senior officers agreed not to suspend Beck pending court hearing.
August 1982: Beck warned of unacceptable methods after complaint of ill-treatment of child.
November 1982: social worker complained of violence and Beck’s relationship with prospective foster child.
February 1983: Beck found not guilty of assault at Leicester crown court.
May 1982: Beck approved as foster parent; three months later, another boy placed with him on lodging arrangement.
July 1983: another children’s home indicates that staff have heard stories of ill-treatment by Beck.
March 1984 to March 1986: more complaints, including claims of violence from former child in care. Two police enquiries found insufficient evidence to act.
Mr Newell said that he found no reason to criticise the council’s investigation of 12 incidents concerning Beck and the Beeches, but added: ”What is extraordinary is that nothing actually happened other than occasionally Beck was written to.” There were hints in the records of some despair among staff ”another complaint about Beck, I suppose nothing will happen again” said Mr Newell. He said that between 1982 and 1985 ”the evidence was overwhelming for ‘something to be done’.” Staff, Mr Newell felt, could have been disheartened that senior management seemed unwilling to act, leading to a feeling that it was pointless to complain.
Mr Newell, who criticised the decision not to suspend Beck when charged with the offence that led to court proceedings, said that it was a major error of judgment that, after the case, his application to foster a boy was approved.
Turning to the aftermath of Beck’s departure in March 1986, after being suspended and then resigning, Mr Newell said that in January 1987 the department had received a letter from a social care agency in London seeking a reference for him. One was sent that did not mention his suspension, but referred to his resignation. It suggested that Beck ”found it easier to sympathise with those residential care officers who adopted his style of operation”. It also said that the willingness with which he was prepared to commit himself to the interests of young people was acknowledged throughout the department.
In March 1987, the department was asked for information about Beck by Brent council, which had employed him on a short contract. Leicestershire’s response, which Mr Newell described as ”extraordinary”, was to supply a copy of the earlier reference with a covering letter that referred to his resignation ”following difficulties which arose in relationships with staff leading to a loss of confidence on both sides”.
The department had created circumstances where Beck could argue that he had resigned due to staff difficulties. Leicestershire had made serious errors of judgment over those events. It had been right to suspend him and his resignation may have been a relief, but, given the circumstances, the health department should have been told of what the authority believed and it should have been more honest in references.
After Beck left Brent later in 1987, he worked as a social worker for Hertfordshire county council, which had received satisfactory references from Brent and an agency. He was sacked by the county in 1990 after his arrest. The reason given was professional misconduct over relationships with clients. No charges against Beck related Brent or Hertfordshire.
November 30th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘Five life terms for head who abused children’
THE former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes was given five life sentences at Leicester crown court last night for a reign of terror of sexual and physical abuse against children in care. Frank Beck, who assaulted up to 200 disturbed children over a 13-year period, was described by Mr Justice Jowitt as a man of great evil.
At the end of an 11-week trial involving the biggest case of child sex abuse to come before a British court, Beck, aged 49, was senenced to life on each of four counts of buggering children under 16 and for raping a girl. He was also jailed for a total of 24 years for other sexual and physical assaults after being found guilty of a total of 17 charges. The judge said young people needed to be protected from Beck for an indefinite period.
Adults who were children when Beck abused them and who gave evidence against him were in court as he stood grim faced for sentencing. The prosecution had said that young people were systematically abused in a ”reign of terror” conducted by Beck under the guise of regression therapy, during which they were treated like babies.
An enquiry to examine the selection of staff at children’s homes was announced last night by William Waldegrave, the health secretary. A second enquiry will look into the way complaints about Beck were handled in Leicestershire.
Mr Waldegrave said: ”Abuse of children is always abhorrent. These crimes were particularly despicable because the abuse in these homes went on for so long, and affected so many children who had been entrusted to the defendants for care and help.”
The health department is alsoexpected to order a full investigation to discover why Beck was not detected earlier as a child abuser when he headed three homes in Market Harborough and Leicester between 1973 and 1986.
Greville Janner, QC, the MP for Leicester West, is to make a statement in the Commons next week after being named during Beck’s trial. Mr A, aged 30, a former boy in care, alleged in evidence that the MP had sexually abused him during a two-year relationship.
Mr Janner said at the time that he could not comment because it wa sub judice, but his office said yesterday: ”This matter raises issues which go far beyond my own personal position. In my opinion the appropriate way to deal with them is in the House of Commons. Mr Justice Jowitt sentenced Beck after the jury considered its verdicts against him and two co-defendants for five days. Beck was acquitted of 14 charges, but jurors were not told he faced two further trials involving another 33 serious charges, which will now lie on the file. Beck had denied the charges.
Peter Jaynes, aged 42, Beck’s former deputy, of Chatham, Kent, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on two charges of indecent assault and a common assault. George Lincoln, aged 39, of Sudbury, Suffolk, a former residential social worker with Beck, was conditionally discharged for a year for common assault.
The Beck affair stunned Leicestershire social services when the scale of his abuse became apparent during a police enquiry in 1990, four years after he was allowed to resign.
November 30th, 1991
Roger Williams, ‘NSPCC DEMANDS SAFEGUARDS FOR CHILDREN IN CARE’
Tighter checks in the wake of the Beck case on people wanting to work with children will not stop determined paedophiles, the NSPCC warned today. Children in care need to know they have the right to demand proper protection, said the charity’s director of children’s services, Jim Harding. “No matter how thorough and careful employers are, determined paedophiles will always find ways to gain access to children,” he said. He was speaking after the Government ordered a nationwide inquiry into the way staff are selected to work at children’s homes. On Friday Frank Beck, the former head of three children’s homes, received five life sentences and 24 years concurrent for a 13-year sexual “reign of terror” over the youngsters in his care. After his convictions for offences including rape and buggery it emerged that Leicestershire social services allowed him to continue working with children despite four police investigations into his alleged abuse. When social services finally asked Beck to resign, they gave him good references allowing him to work with children in other local authorities. Today the NSPCC said the Government-backed inquiry should “look thoroughly” at the system for checking staff backgrounds and references. “Improvements in the checks and information available to potential employers are vital,” said Mr Harding. “But this must be accompanied by improved resources, training, pay and conditions for residential care staff.” Of the continuing risk from paedophiles, he said: “We must ensure that, as well as tightening up the system, children themselves can get immediate, independent help and protection from harm.” He added: “Sadly, children are vulnerable to ill-treatment, not just in Leicestershire but throughout the country. We must be alert to the dangers they face and be properly prepared to help them.” The NSPCC – which already runs a national child protection helpline on 0800 800 500 – is setting up a special counselling service for the victims of the Leicestershire abuse cases. The Government has also ordered Leicestershire county council to set up a second legally-chaired inquiry, particularly looking at how earlier complaints of abuse were handled by social services.
November 30th, 1991
‘SEX MONSTER WAS CHILD VICTIM’
Frank Beck had a lonely and disturbed childhood – and grew up to become a sex monster. In his youth he was teased about being effeminate. Before he was 13 he was sexually assaulted by a man on a train and later, friends at agricultural college dubbed him “Mrs Beck”. But he appeared to overcome childhood traumas, joining the Royal Marines and later going on to become a Liberal councillor and leading childcare worker. But from an early age, he had not had a normal life. The son of a train driver, he was the youngest of five children, with three sisters and a brother. He was jealous of the youngest of his sisters, who had his father’s looks. He was also the only one of the five who was unable to cry at his father’s funeral. Two days afterwards, he left home. Between the ages of nine and 14 he went to three different schools. He left school at 15 without any qualifications and went to a farming school where he was dubbed “Mrs Beck”. He stood out from the other boys as he did not drink, swear or know anything about girls. After training to become a pig-keeper, he joined the Marines, spending 18 months in Malta. He went on to serve in North Africa, Singapore and Borneo, where he fell in love with a Chinese girl and a “big Austrian woman”. He spent 12 months in Aden, where he decided he wanted to become a professional Marine and improve the quality of life for younger men. But in June 1969, he left the Marines, advertising himself for work in the Daily Telegraph. For a time he worked as an assistant warden in a probation hostel. Then he moved to Northampton where he wed a Czech girl in a marriage of convenience to enable her to remain in Britain. They divorced later. Beck went on to work with disturbed children in Northampton, where he came into contact with regression therapy. While doing his social work training at Stevenage College he met his second wife Sandra, who was on the same course. But he also remembers being shocked by “wife swapping and political in-fighting” on the course. Soon after the course, Leicestershire appointed him as officer in charge of one of its children’s homes.
November 30th, 1991
Moira Whittle, Linda Jackson, Mervyn Tunbridge and Chris Moncrieff, ‘GOVERNMENT INQUIRY AFTER BECK JAILED FOR LIFE’
Association The Government has ordered a major nationwide inquiry into the way staff are selected to work at children’s homes. The move came after Frank Beck, the evil former head of three children’s homes, received five life sentences and 24 years – to run concurrently – for a 13-year sexual “reign of terror” over the youngsters in his care. After his convictions for a string of offences, including rape and buggery, it emerged that Leicestershire social services allowed him to continue working with children – despite no fewer than FOUR separate police investigations into his alleged abuse. The former Royal Marine and Liberal councillor was also allowed to foster a boy, even after complaints were passed on to police. And when social services asked him to resign, they gave Beck good references so he could work with children in other local authorities. A report suggesting improvements will be delivered to Health Secretary William Waldegrave by next summer. The Government has also ordered Leicestershire county council to set up a second legally-chaired inquiry into how earlier complaints of abuse were handled. This probe will want to know how staff at one of the biggest social services departments in the country failed to act on warnings that would have led to the discovery of the catalogue of abuse. It will concentrate particularly on the early handling of complaints. Mr Waldegrave said: “These crimes were particularly despicable because the abuse in the homes went on for so long, and affected so many children who had been entrusted to the defendants for care and help.” He said questions arose from the trial about Leicestershire’s “earlier handling of complaints and other matters” concerning Beck. Beck, formerly of Braunstone, Leicester, denied 27 charges. The jury convicted him on 17 – one of rape, five of buggery, two of attempted buggery, six of indecent assault and three of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was cleared on nine – five of buggery, one of attempted buggery, one of indecent assault and two of actual bodily harm. One charge of buggery was left to lie on the file. Sentencing him, Mr Justice Jowitt said: “You are a man whose character combines considerable talent and very great evil. Sadly you chose to use your talent in the pursuit of your evil and lustful desires.” Beck’s deputy Peter Jaynes, 42, of Beacon Hill, Chatham, Kent, was jailed for three years after being convicted of one indecent assault and one count of actual bodily harm. He was cleared on a charge of indecent assault. He pleaded guilty to two counts of common assault, which appeared on the second indictment arising out of the prosecutions. Social worker and former policeman George Lincoln, 39, of Great Cornard, Sudbury, Suffolk, was conditionally discharged for 12 months after admitting common assault. He was cleared on a charge of buggery. The victims in the case could now receive thousands of pounds in compensation. The NSPCC said it was setting up special counselling services for the victims – and it and another charity, Barnado’s, warned that similar cases could come to light. Brian Waller, director of Leicestershire social services since 1989, described the affair as a “travesty”. He told a news conference at Leicestershire county hall: “One can only feel sick in the pit of one’s stomach that in a department ostensibly there to help people – and in many ways providing a very good service – for a significant period of years, these quite awful events were taking place. “It’s really a travesty of what Leicestershire social services was set up to do and in many cases does very well.” Since the men’s arrest, further steps had been taken to improve the standard of care, he said. These included a review of management practice between 1973 and 1986, and setting up an inspection unit to check on care quality. Mr Waller welcomed the local inquiry announced by Mr Waldegrave, saying: “Leicestershire social services department is committed to learn whatever further lessons are necessary from the events which took place before 1986 to ensure that standards of care and management are of a markedly higher quality than existed five years ago.” The county council’s insurers would consider “as sympathetically as possible” compensation claims from the abused. The council will also set up, with the National Children’s Bureau, a commission on residential care whose recommendations will be used to plan services for the future.
November 30th, 1991, Saturday
Jack O’Sullivan and Judy Jones, ‘Head of children’s homes jailed for life, five times; Inquiries ordered into Britain’s biggest sexual abuse scandal ‘involving 200 victims”
FRANK BECK, the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes, was yesterday given five sentences of life imprisonment after being convicted on 17 charges in Britain’s biggest child sexual abuse scandal.
Mr Justice Jowitt told Beck he had committed ”the grossest breaches of trust imaginable” by sexually and physically abusing children in his care. Police said yesterday that more than 200 former residents of the homes – more than a quarter of those interviewed in an 18-month investigation spanning three continents – had complained that they were abused by Beck over a 13-year period up to 1986.
The judge said Beck, who once had considerable influence on child care in Leicestershire, had used his talent ”in pursuit of your evil and lustful desires” for some of society’s most vulnerable children. Child experts said last night that the extent of the abuse revealed suggests safeguards introduced by the Children Act last month may be inadequate.
Within minutes of the sentencing at Leicester Crown Court, William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Health, ordered two inquiries. A national one in private will study the selection of children’s home staff and whether they receive adequate support and guidance. The minister wants its recommendations, expected to be made public, by July.
The second inquiry, by Leicestershire County Council, will look at the mistakes enabling Beck to abuse so many children for so long. It will examine ”management response to complaints, or other prima facie evidence of abuse” in the county’s children’s homes from 1973 onwards.
Brian Waller, who became Leicestershire’s Director of Social Services in 1988 after Beck left, emphasised that management of the county’s residential childcare had been fundamentally overhauled since 1986. Leicestershire led the country in developing safeguards for children.
The Crown Prosecution Service is likely to decide next week whether to launch proceedings against Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, who was alleged during Beck’s trial to have sexually abused a boy living in one of the homes.
Mr Janner last night put out a statement saying: ”This matter raises issues which go far beyond my own personal position. In my opinion, the appropriate way and place to deal with them is in the House of Commons. I shall do so at the first opportunity, which will be next week.” His subject, during a Commons adjournment debate, probably on Tuesday, will be the operation of the law on contempt of court.
After five days’ deliberation, the jury found Beck guilty of 17 charges: rape, buggering five children, two attempted buggeries, six counts of indecent assault and three assaults causing actual bodily harm. A damning confidential report produced for Leicestershire by Barry Newell, a former Nottinghamshire deputy director of social services, has found 12 complaints made against Beck over four years to 1986. The report provided evidence that the council should have acted against Beck and shut the Beeches home, in Leicester Forest East, which he ran.
The report criticises as an error of judgment that Beck, then single, was allowed, despite complaints that he was homosexual, to foster two boys. It describes as extraordinary that when Beck left Leicestershire in 1986, after complaints by two junior colleagues that he sexually molested them, he received a reference from the then director of social services.
Beck, 49, a former Liberal councillor was not sacked but resigned and took up work at a London children’s home. Yesterday he was convicted of indecently assaulting those colleagues, Steven Dawes, now 25, and Bene Dawson, now 33. Mr Justice Jowitt told Beck: ”No one can say what is the extent of harm you have done in committing these offences. Much of it has been considerable and long-lasting.”
In addition to the five life sentences for rape and buggering four children, he sentenced Beck to 24 years to run concurrently for the 12 convictions for phsyical and sexual assault. Beck is likely to be kept isolated in prison with other sex offenders for his safety.
More than 20 former residents have already sought compensation. Claims are expected to cost Leicestershire’s insurers pounds 2m. Beck faced a further 33 charges, which the judge ordered to lie on file. The prosecution had alleged he conducted a ”reign of terror” at the homes, as children as young as eight were abused by him, under the guise of ”regression therapy”.
He was acquitted in all of 14 charges on the judge’s direction.
Peter Jaynes, 42, of Chatham, Kent, Beck’s former deputy at the Ratcliffe Road home, Leicester, was jailed for three years after conviction on three assault charges and one of sexual assault against children. George Lincoln, 39, of Sudbury, Suffolk, Beck’s former deputy at the Beeches, was cleared yesterday with Beck, of buggering a 14-year-old boy. He was conditionally discharged after pleading guilty to common assault on a child.
November 30th, 1991
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Care services and police failed in Beck affair; Accusations of child sex abuse went unheeded in Leicestershire for a decade’
POLICE and Leicestershire social services department failed for more than a decade to heed allegations of abuse against Frank Beck and his colleagues, in spite of repeated complaints from children and staff.
When Beck finally left Leicestershire in 1986, following allegations that he sexually molested two members of staff, he was given a good reference which allowed him, like the two co-accused, to work in child care until last year.
An official inquiry is likely to focus on why child sex abuse went undetected for 13 years and children in other counties were then exposed to further danger because of poor vetting procedures.
A damning confidential report on that period in Leicestershire by Barry Newell, former deputy director of social services in Nottinghamshire, found that allegations were not properly investigated, records were inadequate and senior council officers were reluctant to discipline staff because they were afraid councillors would not back them. The report is understood to have found it extraordinary that so many complaints did not produce action.
In 1986, two junior social workers, Bene Dawson, 33, and Steven Dawes, 25, wrote to Clifford Savage, deputy of the Beeches home, saying Beck had molested them. Within a day of their letters reaching county hall, he resigned. But he was not dismissed, leaving on mutually acceptable terms. Brian Rice, Leicestershire’s then director of social services, wrote the reference, which Beck used to seek work with Reliance, a London-based social work agency. He then ran a children’s home in Brent, north-west London, for three months. The inquiry is also likely to focus on Mr Rice’s failure to raise the alarm about the potential danger of Beck, who was not on the Department of Health’s blacklist of people who should not be allowed to work with children. Peter Bibby, Brent’s deputy director of social services, said: ”We took up the reference from Leicestershire and there was no indication in it at all that Frank Beck was anything but all right.”
To date, police investigations in homes where the accused worked subsequently have revealed no allegations of criminal activity.
Mr Bibby, who is on a national police-social services committee on child abuse networks, said: ”It is typical of paedophiles to work for short periods in a children’s home to get a good reference and test out the managers to see if they pull them up for getting too close to kids. If the management is on the ball, they leave.”
Beck followed a course of action familiar to those who study paedophiles. He married Alex Seale, his superior in Brent, who was responsible for monitoring his children’s home. They soon divorced. In the witness box Beck denied prosecution suggestions that the divorce was because she disliked his interest in her two sons. From there he moved to Hertfordshire, where he was working as a field social worker when he was arrested last year. The county has sacked him.
There will also be questions asked about other Leicestershire council officials charged with monitoring children’s homes. The 1986 complaint was not the first. John Cobb, then a principal assistant with the council and Beck’s immediate superior, said that he received ”between 9 and 12 complaints” from staff and children at the Beeches home, Leicester, which Beck ran from 1978. Mr Cobb, still a senior official in the county, said that all were properly investigated and referred to his superiors at county hall.
The police also missed the warning signals. Time and again, they returned to the homes children who had told them they had been abused. During the trial both prosecution and defence said that Beck was highly regarded in the social services department and treated locally as an authority on child care.
The police say they received four formal complaints against Beck, but three were uncorroborated and so they brought charges in only one case. In 1983, Beck was cleared of assault causing actual bodily harm to a boy in care at the Beeches in a trial before Mr Justice Jowitt, who also heard the case which ended yesterday. He admitted hitting the boy, but claimed ”lawful chastisement”.
In 1977, an inquest into the suicide of a teenage boy in care at Ratcliffe Road, where Beck and Peter Jaynes worked, heard concern about methods used by social workers. The boy, Simon O’Donnell, 13, hanged himself using a towel in public toilets nearby.
Jaynes left Leicestershire for a job in child care. He worked at Medvale, a 10-bed home for adolescents in Rochester, Kent, where he became officer-in- charge in 1986. He faces disciplinary proceedings. The home was closed last year.
November 30th, 1991
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Emotional healing provided key to ‘breaking’ children; Accusations of child sex abuse went unheeded in Leicestershire for a decade’
THE technique called ”regression therapy” – taking children back to traumatic events in their infancy – was the key to Frank Beck’s sexual and physical abuse of young people in care.
The court heard that children as old as 13 were made to suck dummies and wear nappies, were bathed like babies, and told to ”regress” to the time they were last happy.
Witness after witness described how, in this vulnerable state, alone with Beck, they were buggered or sexually assaulted. They would be told this was what they wanted.
Witnesses also claimed that they were provoked into angry tantrums by staff members. Peter Jaynes, Beck’s deputy in two homes between 1973 and 1978, said that Beck’s philosophy was ”to break children before caring for them”. He said that children were provoked by ”aggravated tickling, blowing in the child’s ears, calling them names and discussing their families”.
John Parker, who was 14 when he first encountered Beck, said that there were four kinds of regression therapy sessions: ”It was happy, sad, randy or angry. If they chose a randy session then you were touched. You were touched all over. They just messed about with your head.”
The root of the therapy is the notion that a catharsis experienced during the re-living of a traumatic event can heal emotional damage.
However, mainstream psychotherapy maintains that such emotional outpouring is not an end in itself, and can be damaging.
A century ago Freud warned, after regretting persistent questioning of resisting patients, that forcing someone to re-live an experience could be damaging.
Valerie Sinason, principal child psychotherapist at the Tavistock clinic, London, said: ”The breaking down of the defence of these children must have felt like horrendous mental torture. It is hardly surprising that they were open to what masqueraded as comfort, which Beck offered afterwards.”
Hellmut Karle, former principal psychologist at Guy’s Hospital, London, said regression therapy was used in Britain largely by unqualified practitioners. He warned against methods used by Beck which led to a similar sexual abuse scandal in the 1970s in Canada.
However, he said that a form of regression is used beneficially within the NHS. Patients undergoing therapy are encouraged to seek out early experiences, but only voluntarily. Hypnosis is the preferred method. Mr Karle said that when people are considered too fragile to explore their past directly, the hypnotist suggests that they imagine the scenes as if looking at a television screen.
November 30th, 1991
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Former Royal Marine was molested as a boy ; Accusations of child sex abuse went unheeded in Leicestershire for a decade’
THE MAN said to have abused at least 200 young people had himself been sexually assaulted before he was 13 by a man on a train.
In his youth he was teased about being effeminate. Friends at an agricultural college dubbed him ”Mrs Beck”.
Beck, 49, was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and educated in Croydon, south London. The son of a train driver, he was the youngest of five children, with three sisters and a brother.
He was jealous of the youngest of his sisters, who had his father’s looks. He was also the only one of the five who was unable to cry at his father’s funeral. Two days afterwards, he left home.
He joined the Royal Marines when he was 17. He stayed for nearly 10 years, then had a short spell in the probation service, when he learned about regression therapy, before taking the two- year course for the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work.
Shortly after qualifying at the age of 31, he was appointed officer-in-charge of the Poplars, Market Harborough, a home for adolescents in council care. After this home moved to Ratcliffe Road, Leicester, he was also to run the Beeches in Leicester Forest East between 1978 and 1986. The most difficult children were sent to Beck. He lectured at seminars. In 1977, he was chairman of a council working party on children’s homes.
Beck was much admired as a fiery Liberal councillor on Blaby District Council, which was dominated by the Tories.
His trade mark was physical openness. In 1983, a social work magazine printed a caption accompanying a picture of smiling children: ”In a touch-deprived society, Frank Beck encourages physical contact.”
At his trial, his victims spoke not like adults but like the children they had been when they were abused, bursting into tears, using terms like ”private parts” instead of more sophisticated adult phrases. Some even gave evidence from behind screens, a concession normally granted only to children. It was this collective regression to the past, rather than individual unsubstantiated claims, which condemned Beck.
More than 800 people who had passed through the homes between 1973 and 1986 were interviewed in what became the biggest investigation into child sex abuse in Britain, and which took police to Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Among those interviewed were four former members of staff who said that they had been abused.
One police officer said: ”We had no idea what, or how much, we would unearth. We tracked down other children who had grown up, of course, and found that they too had their own horror stories to tell.”
Beck’s regime was said to have been very violent. Former residents of the homes spoke of having towels twisted around their necks to make them fly into furious tantrums. Peter Jaynes, Beck’s former deputy and co-accused, admitted that he saw children punched, kicked, shaken and ”battered into submission”.
Suspicions first arose when a woman, who was being interviewed by a children’s rights officer in November 1989 about allegations that she had mistreated her children, said Beck beat her as a child in the Ratcliffe Road home in Leicester in the 1970s. She named boys who had been sexually abused. They became the first witnesses against Beck.
However, despite the number of allegations against Beck, there was little corroborating evidence of particular charges. Beck claimed he had been the victim of a conspiracy, suggesting that some witnesses had been enticed to give evidence by the possibility of payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
The judge directed a not guilty verdict on graphically detailed allegations that Beck buggered John Watson, an eight-year-old boy, after it emerged that Beck had left the home at least a year before the alleged incident.
John Black, counsel for Beck, said: ”There is one significant and emphatic question mark hanging over this case in relation to the integrity of the police and the integrity of some of the witnesses.”
Beck denied 27 abuse and assault charges while his two deputies, Peter Jaynes and George Lincoln, defended only four charges. The defence painted him as a maligned hero working imaginatively with children. The prosecution said he was an evil monster.
However, many of the alleged victims returned to see Beck in later years, sometimes with their children. The defence said this showed the nonsense of the allegations. Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution, offered one explanation: ”It’s rather like the puppy that is kicked crawling back to the master that feeds it.”
November 30th, 1991
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Case reveals lack of staff controls; Accusations of child sex abuse went unheeded in Leicestershire for a decade’
THE Leicestershire scandal represents a growing realisation that children’s homes can hold yet further horrors for children often already abused and scarred before they reach the care system.
It follows the ”pin-down” inquiry report in May into how more than 130 children were kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for weeks, in four Staffordshire children’s homes.
Just as in Staffordshire and other children’s homes there were no mechanisms for dealing with children’s complaints. Also, as in Staffordshire, the Department of Health’s social services inspectorate, responsible for monitoring council care of children, failed to spot the abuse. The Children Act, which came into effect last month, is supposed to prevent such scandals by introducing complaints procedures and inspection units.
In Leicestershire, long before this scandal emerged, the council had established Britain’s first Children’s Rights Officer, who visits homes explaining how children should complain.
However, Frank Beck was able to continue to abuse children despite regular visits by senior social services officials, which suggests that the inspection units may not be seen as sufficiently independent to gain the trust of children or staff.
The Beck case has exposed the poor training of staff and poor vetting of recruitment, which allowed Beck to pursue his own form of amateur psychiatry and dominate inexperienced colleagues.
Bob Lewis, secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said: ”It is staggering that these homes took on people who were so inexperienced and inadequate that they thought what Beck was doing was the norm. There has to be a link between this and the evidence of government reports that we must tackle the poor level of training staff in children’s homes.
”There are common factors with Staffordshire. In one, pin-down was used for control, in the other Beck and unskilled staff were using what they called ‘regression therapy’. In each case no one blew the whistle.
”We have to ensure that staff do not come away from courses believing they have skills which they have not got.”
However, Mr Lewis said that improving training would have little effect unless conditions of service improved, since trained social workers would leave for more rewarding work. An inquiry chaired by Lady Howe, due to report shortly, is considering how better pay, conditions and career structures can be developed.
Ian Katz, ‘(CORRECTED) Avuncular figure who stole childhoods: Frank Beck, a former head of three children’s homes, was sentenced to life yesterday for sexually and physically abusing residents and staff. Guardian reporters look at the man whose regression therapy produced pictures of smiling children but was the smokescreen for his perversion’
Correction (published 2nd December 1991) appended to this article.
AT THE end of 1982, a reporter from the social work magazine Community Care was clearly impressed when he visited the Beeches family centre in Leicester.
‘The young people are obviously relaxed, unhampered by rigid rules, able to say what they feel like but never disrespectful. The sort of trust clearly exists where the young people are free but do not take liberties,’ he wrote.
Frank Beck, who presided over this picture of domestic bliss, had established a reputation for dealing with problem teenagers at two other Leicestershire homes.
Nine years later he stood in the dock at Leicester crown court with his two former deputies Peter Jaynes and George Lincoln. The jury heard that he was a pervert who had perpetrated a 13 year reign of terror, systematically abusing and beating children and even buggering his staff.
He had stolen childhoods and warped minds. A succession of former residents, now adults, told how supposed therapy meetings degenerated into sex sessions.
He was a ‘monster’, an irresistible personality, a manipulator who could abuse a child and then convince him that he had wanted it, a navy interrogator trained to torture without leaving any marks.
Mr Beck took notes of each allegation throughout the 10 week trial, pursing his lips at the most horrific. When prosecution witnesses lost their tempers under cross-examination, he did not reply to their insults. When he took the stand, he spoke in a high but firm voice. He was clear, confident and compassionate.
The question was: could the avuncular figure who appears surrounded by smiling children in Community Care magazine be the evil genius who gave children a lollipop after abusing them? After five days of deliberation the jury yesterday decided he could.
Beck has always denied being a homosexual. He married twice, though friends say that the first was for immigration purposes and the second lasted 48 hours.
He had a lonely childhood during which he was once sexually assaulted and reportedly teased for being effeminate. At 17 he joined the marines serving for almost 10 years and seeing action in Singapore and Aden. He had a succession of odd jobs before he took a post as a probation worker.
In 1971, after two years working in Leicester and a Northampton, he studied for the CQSW social worker’s qualification. Colin Akhurst, his supervisor, remembers him for his ‘degree of arrogance and his single minded determination to become a ‘therapist’.’
At the end of the two-year course, Mr Beck, aged 31, was appointed officer-in-charge of the Poplars children’s home in Market Harborough, near Leicester which had been established to tame the county’s most troublesome teenagers.
Most had records of absconding and violence, often involving weapons. Many had been abused. When the unit moved to larger premises at Ratcliffe Road, Leicester, Beck refined the apparently ‘firm but relaxed’ style which became his trademark.
In particular he introduced a controversial treatment known as regression therapy. According to the prosecution this was ‘the veil behind which the perverts took their pleasure’. Children were regressed to a state of vulnerability in which they were ‘ripe to be abused’.
Mr Beck said he learnt the therapy while working at a residential care centre in Northampton. It worked by treating a person’s life as a ladder, he explained.
Sometimes there were rungs missing – corresponding to early stages of development. By making a child behave younger than its age you could take it down the ladder and replace missing rungs. To that end children were given bottles, dressed and bathed by staff.
Though later discredited, the idea was popular in psychotherapy during the 1960s and early 1970s.
What was so shocking about Beck’s version was the systematic cruelty and apparently unnecessary physical intimacy with which it was implemented. Children were provoked till they had temper tantrums. Sometimes this was done with taunts like ‘your mother hates you’, sometimes with violence. Along with the therapy went an atmosphere of ‘openness’ in which children were encouraged to talk about their sexuality and even told to masturbate.
Former residents recounted how they were told to display their ‘feelings’ – often just before they were abused.
Mr Beck defended his methods with results; he was an effective maverick. Children who had absconded repeatedly did so less. They got into less trouble than they had even in secure units.
And they looked happy. The jury was shown dozens of pictures of smiling children which Mr Beck said he took so that he could provide them with a photographic record of their childhoods when they left.
Plenty of visitors saw the smiling faces too. Dorothy Edwards, the former director of social services, was a regular visitor. Virginia Bottomley, now the Health Minister, had visited once.
Locally, Mr Beck became a public figure. He was influential in the formation of the county’s policy on children’s homes and became a Liberal Democrat councillor.
He spoke out against brutality but in his homes he was regularly violent. Several former residents described how he shook and punched them after losing his temper. So-called conselling sessions in his rooms frequently led to mutual masturbation, or the child being buggered.
Perhaps more extraordinarily Mr Beck also abused his staff and persuaded them to participate in his regime. According to one former colleague he recruited ’emotional weaklings’ who could be easily dominated. Giving evidence Peter Jaynes, who was deputy at the Poplars said: ‘It was the ethos of the place, it was just something that had arrived with Frank.’
It was a complaint by two social workers that eventually led to Mr Beck’s resignation from the Beeches in 1986. A woman being questioned by police claimed that she had been abused while in care at one of Mr Beck’s homes.
Mr Beck was arrested in April 1990.
Detectives travelled the world tracing former residents, spoke to more than 400 people and heard 62 complaints from 45 people.
His former colleagues, Peter Jaynes, George Lincoln, and a fourth social worker, Colin Fiddiman, were arrested.
Mr Fiddiman committed suicide after skipping bail to Holland.
Among the many contradictions of Frank Beck, one will have been especially hard for the jury to reconcile. Why did so many children who claimed he had abused them later visit him of their own volition, often with their families?
‘He had a hold on everybody,’ one former resident said. ‘He was like a magnet.’
Correction (published 2nd December 1991).
In our article, Avuncular figure who stole childhoods, which appeared on November 30, we reported that Virginia Bottomley, the Health Minister, had visited one of the homes run by Frank Beck. The information was in fact given in evidence by Mr Beck. Mrs Bottomley has since denied that she ever visited the homes.
November 30th, 1991
Ian Katz and David Brindle, ‘Child care head gets life terms: Government sets up inquiries into abuse and cruelty’
THE Government last night launched two separate inquiries after Frank Beck, the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes, was jailed for life for sexually and physically abusing children and social workers for more than a decade.
William Waldegrave, the Health Secretary, said one inquiry would investigate how Mr Beck was able to operate a regime of abuse and cruelty in the homes between 1973 and 1986 despite at least four police investigations. The other would examine national procedures for recruiting social workers.
Sentencing Mr Beck to five life terms plus 24 years after he was found guilty of 17 charges of abuse at Leicester crown court, Mr Justice Jowitt said he was ‘a man whose character combines considerable talent and very great evil’. He had been guilty of ‘the grossest breach of trust imaginable’.
After almost five days of deliberations, the jury found Mr Beck, aged 49, guilty of five of the remaining eight charges against him, clearing him of two. One charge of buggery was ordered to lie on the file.
In a statement released last night, Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, said he would answer allegations that he participated in sex sessions with an orphan teenage boy in care in parliament next week.
During the trial, Mr Beck claimed Mr Janner had a two year affair with Mr A, now 30, who had later been placed in his care. Mr Winston repeated the claim.
In his statement Mr Janner said: ‘This matter raises issues which go far beyond my own personal position. In my opinion, the appropriate way and place to deal with them is in the House of Commons.’
Mr Beck was officer-in-charge of the Beeches and Ratcliffe Road children’s homes in Leicester and the Poplars in Market Harborough. He was a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Jowitt told Mr Beck: ‘Sadly you chose to use your talent in the pursuit of your evil and lustful desires.
‘Some of the most difficult and disturbed children in Leicestershire were entrusted in your care. Some had already been abused. They could hardly have been more vulnerable.’
‘All of this makes it necessary in my judgment to protect young people from you for an indefinite period until it’s clear there is no longer any danger.’
Announcing the inquiries, Mr Waldegrave said: ‘These crimes were particulary despicable because the abuse in these homes went on for so long, and affected so many children who had been entrusted to the defendants for care.’
The first inquiry, which will have statutory powers and will be chaired by a judge or QC, will consider Leicestershire’s handling of the many complaints made about Mr Beck. It will also investigate ‘other matters’ concerning him, taken to include the fact that he was allowed to foster two boys in council care and was given a positive reference when he was finally asked to resign.
The second will consider the selection of staff at children’s homes and the guidance and support they receive, reporting with recommendations by next July.
This comes less than six months after the inquiry report into the ‘pin down’ scandal in Staffordshire children’s homes and only months after a report by Sir Bill Utting, the former chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate, on the state of care in homes.
Mr Waldegrave said a report by the inspectorate on Leicestershire’s remaining 10 children’s homes had found some deficiencies remained in spite of many improvements.
It also emerged last night that an independent report, commissioned by Leicestershire, had concluded that evidence of abuse was available as early as 1982, but no one did anything until 1986.
During the 10-week trial the court heard that Beck had excercised a ‘reign of terror’ in the homes, abusing and beating both children and fellow social workers. A controversial approach known as regression therapy was used as a cover for his abuse.
After 34 hours of deliberations, the jury found Mr Beck guilty of buggering four teenage boys who had been in his care and raping and buggering a teenage girl. He was also convicted of two charges of attempted buggery, three charges of indecent assault, and three of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Another 34 charges lie on the file. He was cleared of nine charges.
Mr Beck’s former deputy, Peter Jaynes, aged 42, of Chatham, Kent, was sentenced to three years in jail for indecently assaulting a teenage boy and assaulting a girl who was raped and buggered by Mr Beck. He was cleared of one charge of indecent assault.
Another former deputy, George Lincoln, aged 38, of Sudbury, Suffolk, was conditionally discharged for 12 months after admitting common assault. He was yesterday cleared of a joint buggery charge with Mr Beck.
November 30th, 1991
Ian Katz, ‘The mother and son who appeared on opposing sides in trial of a ‘father figure”
JEANNETTE Barker first heard that her son was married with a child and a new foster parent when he gave evidence at the trial.
She had seen little of Mark since he was sent to the Beeches in 1982 aged 16 after convictions for theft. The two had enjoyed a close relationship but weekend visits soon became tense.
‘Beck told you how to behave with your child and what to say and if you did not do what you were told you did not see them again.’
Mrs Barker saw other instances which aroused her concern: children of 15 walking around in nappies, a boy being banged against the wall until he lost his temper. Mark was becoming more subdued.
With two daughters who had been abused, she was naturally suspicious. ‘It was a gut feeling.’ She voiced her fears to her social worker and wrote to the council but claims she received no reply.
In February 1983 she married an American and applied for permission to move to the US with her children. Mark was refused a visa because of his criminal record.
She wrote to him regularly from the US but received one letter. ‘It said I was an awful mother and Frank Beck had given him a good life. My immediate reaction was one of disgust.’ She called him at the Beeches but was told he had gone to live with Mr Beck. She saw him once more, soon after her return to Britain in 1984.
He had visited without warning and in apparently good humour. ‘And then just before 8pm he said ‘I’ve got to go’ and that was the last time I saw him.’
Since then all her letters had gone unanswered and her calls to Mr Beck’s home in Braunstone had been blocked.
When a detective investigating Mr Beck’s children’s homes visited her last year she felt her earlier fears had been vindicated. She agreed to appear as a prosecution witness. Mark was to appear for the defence.
In court he said he had been fostered by Mr Beck who was a ‘father figure’ to him. He had never been abused by Mr Beck or seen any evidence of abuse at The Beeches.
Mrs Barker fears her son fell under the spell of Mr Beck’s powerful personality. ‘He feels that this man is God. Even as a parent you still have a lot of fear of Frank Beck.’
November 30th, 1991
David Brindle, ‘Four questions on the duty of care’
THE independent inquiry into how Frank Beck’s activities went unchecked by Leicestershire social services for 13 years will focus on four questions which suggest, at the very least, extraordinary complacency on the part of his superiors.
The inquiry will want to know why no action was taken sooner, despite evidence of countless complaints by children; why Beck was allowed to continue as head-of-home despite being referred four times to the police; why, when he was asked to resign, he was given a reference to get a social work post elsewhere; and why he was allowed to foster two boys.
As John Black, Mr Beck’s barrister, asked in his closing speech for the defence, if the allegations against his client were true, how could it be that social services ‘so completely failed in their duty’?
Evidence at the trial indicated that up to a dozen formal complaints by staff and children at the Beeches home were dealt with between 1981 and 1986. John Cobb, then Mr Beck’s immediate superior and today a senior officer of the county council, said he ensured that between nine and 12 complaints he received were passed up the management line.
The jury also heard from witnesses who claimed to have complained to other members of staff, including Brian Rice, social services director from 1980 to 1988, without any apparent effect.
Complaints against Mr Beck were, however, referred by the social services department to the police on four occasions. After one of these complaints, in 1983 he was prosecuted but cleared of assault causing actual bodily harm on a boy at the Beeches. The judge then, as in 1991, was Mr Justice Jowitt.
The fourth complaint, in 1986, in which two male social workers complained of sexual molestation, did not lead to prosecution but did lead to his resignation, which the county council says was requested.
But the department did what many will find inexplicable and gave Mr Beck a reference which enabled him to take further social work posts. The reference, signed by Mr Rice, said: ‘With regard to his reliability and trustworthiness, these were above questioning.’
The fact that Mr Beck was not dismissed, and did not have a criminal conviction, meant he was not placed on the Department of Health’s register of care workers who have known ‘form’.
Mr Beck went to Brent, in north London, where he was deputy manager of a children’s home on a short-term contract between 1986 and 1987. The borough says subsequent investigations have revealed no evidence of impropriety.
In January 1988, he joined Hertfordshire social services as a field social worker. References were taken up and were found ‘entirely positive’ and a police check was run on him as a matter of routine policy. He was still working for Hertfordshire at the time of his arrest in April 1990.
Subsequent inquiries by Hertfordshire uncovered no evidence of abuse of any clients by Mr Beck, but did indicate ‘inappropriate relationships’ with two clients. He was dismissed in May 1990 on grounds of professional misconduct.
The remaining issue for the inquiry is how Leicestershire allowed Mr Beck to foster two boys in the care of social services, neither of whom figured in the criminal charges, despite the growing number of complaints.
The department asked Northamptonshire social services to undertake an assessment of his suitability and references were taken up. No serious doubts appear to have been raised.
The only justification for this is that it was split into two distinct halves: a care branch, with responsibilities including the children’s homes, and a domiciliary branch, with responsibilities including fostering. Although the care branch is believed to have had concerns about Mr Beck, it does not appear to have communicated them to the domiciliary branch.
This split was ended in 1986, when many of the senior managers of the domiciliary branch took early retirement. In 1987, the department introduced a complaints procedure for children in care and became the first authority in England to appoint a children’s rights officer, Mike Lindsay.
It is said that it was an interview between Mr Lindsay and a woman in 1989, on quite separate matters, that led to the woman going to the police with claims of how she had been abused while in care under Mr Beck, leading in turn to the police investigation and trial.
The flurry of changes in 1986-87, so soon after Mr Beck’s departure, may be construed as a reaction to untoward things that had come to light. But the department has never admitted to knowing anything about criminal matters that was not passed to the police.
The apparent failure to act on complaints against Mr Beck may also be explained by the likelihood that relatively little credibility was given to the complaints of children in his homes, the most difficult of any in the council’s care, and that there was reluctance to interfere with his methods because of their claimed success.
Since Mr Beck’s arrest, the department has taken six steps to forestall criticism. It asked the area child protection committee to check on its 10 remaining children’s homes; invited the Government’s Social Services Inspectorate to do the same; and checked that the three remaining under-18s who had been at homes featured in the trial, and were still the council’s legal responsibility, were adequately protected.
None of the homes where Mr Beck worked is still run by the council as children’s homes, the Beeches having closed in February this year.
The department also commissioned a review of its own management practice between 1973 and 1986, carried out by Barry Newell, a former deputy director of social services for Nottinghamshire; presented a detailed report of its own to the Department of Health; and offered briefings to all Leicestershire MPs.
Exhaustive as these measures may seem, they are unlikely to have been enough to fend off the criticisms almost certain to face the department.
The Sunday Times
December 1st, 1991
GREVILLE JANNER, the Labour MP for Leicester West, faces questioning at a branch meeting of his constituency this week following allegations made against him during the Frank Beck sex abuse trial.
Janner is expected to make a statement in the Commons on Tuesday, and to resist against any demand to stand down. The director of public prosecutions is not expected to bring charges against the MP.
The Sunday Times
December 1st, 1991
Maragarette Driscoll, ‘The boy next door’
The house reminded the shocked RSPCA officer of a scene in Great Expectations. The memory of Miss Havisham’s cobweb-strewn wedding breakfast came back to him as he stumbled through the darkness of the empty rooms, gagging at the smell from piles of rotting rubbish that lay up to 2ft deep.
The pool of light from his torch illuminated snatches of horror. Rows of emaciated and filthy animals, some dying, some dead. In one corner he saw a container of animal faeces, spilling out over the floor. Saucepans streaked with decaying food sat on the stove.
In all, animal welfare officers discovered 90 animals inside the filthy and neglected house, 44 of them dead. The body of one guinea pig had lain there so long it had mummified; a King Charles spaniel barely able to whimper was blind, matted and so weak it had to be put down.
But more disturbing even than the sight of the animals was the thought that this squalid house had been, until earlier that day, home to a mother and her small son. Had the boy, now 11, grown up surrounded by rubbish and dying animals? What was his mother thinking of?
Worse was to come. After the discovery of this squalor last weekend, it emerged that the little boy had never been to school. He had been hand-reared in this strange home like a backwoods hillbilly. Yet this was no isolated shack but a semi-detached house on the edge of a village in the Surrey commuter belt, one of the most affluent parts of England.
The questions tumbled out. Why did nobody do anything about it? The neighbours? The church? The social services? Did suspicion of the social services muddy the issue? The case of Frank Beck, the Leicester children’s home chief jailed last week for chronic abuse, is only the latest in a series of child care scandals.
When the answers emerged, they drew a picture of a community stifled by reserve, afraid to interfere in what it saw from behind its lace curtains. But there were other answers, too, that throw a different light on the case of the forgotten boy next door.
IT WAS the police who broke the strange spell over his life. Investigating a theft, and getting no answer at the front door, they climbed through a window and discovered the mother and son in bed. She was suffering from depression. He as always, it later turned out was keeping her company. The two were removed and put into the care of social services. As attention focused on the scruffy suburban semi with a junkyard in the garden, the strange life of the boy who nobody knew began to be revealed.
His name was Darryl. His birth had been registered, but then he seems to have slipped through every safety net the government or social services can throw out to children in danger or in need. He had no known father, he had never been to school and apparently had no friends.
Nobody recalled ever seeing another child enter the house or seeing the boy out playing football or chatting to anyone in the street. All the pains and pleasures of a normal childhood had somehow passed him by. Neighbours would see him walking to and fro with his mother, sometimes in the small hours of the night. The two were always together. If someone said hello the mother would occasionally stop for a few moments to talk, but the child would simply nod politely and pass by.
Neighbours who had seen the boy and his mother nearly every day for the past decade expressed astonishment at the gruesome details that began to emerge. Some added their three ha’pence to the sketchy picture of the child: his blonde hair was so long they ”didn’t know whether he was a girl or a boy”. Children said they knew that Darryl did not go to school: ”We thought he was lucky,” they said.
HOW could it have happened? The house, and more particularly the yard beside it, had long been a jarring note in the row of neat 1930s homes that line Woodham Lane in New Haw. Maisie Davey next door had forgotten the number of times she had called in pest control officers to destroy rats and mice that seeped over from the adjacent yard.
Others walked past day after day with a disdainful glance at the crumbling window frames, the dirty net curtains and the three rusting lumps of metal slowly being consumed by the undergrowth: a disused caravan, an old Austin, which the family reputedly used as a fridge, and a blue Vauxhall Chevette.
What emerged was that everybody was aware of the boy’s existence, yet nobody thought to knock on the door to see if they could help or if the boy was all right. Everyone presumed that the social services would eventually get round to dealing with him.
But Graham Gatehouse, the director of Surrey social services, responded with weary anger last week. Nobody had reported Darryl’s predicament to his department. So how were they supposed to help him?
Gatehouse said this was ”not a social services responsibility but more a topic for national debate. It is to me quite astonishing that in 1991 social services would not have heard about them.” The neighbours, defensive and contrite with the finger of blame pointed at them, emphasised the family’s self-imposed isolation. They were not welcome at the house, therefore they did not interfere.
”I feel terrible about it now,” said Patricia Fox, who has lived two doors away from the family for 30 years, ”but they were a family who kept themselves very much to themselves. Just because they live in a scruffy house, you can’t complain, can you? It’s not against the law. It didn’t occur to us that anything was wrong. The boy looked plump and healthy. If he had been starved or bruised, well, that would have been different. But people live the way they want to live. You can’t interfere.”
Fox said the boy’s mother had told her he was hyperactive and went to a special school. She accepted this explanation and assumed that it accounted for their being together at odd times of the day. Even when her husband came back late from walking their dogs and said he had seen the pair out walking at 2am, she was unconcerned. If the boy was hyperactive, she reasoned, the mother was probably just trying to wear him out.
The family, she said, were generally regarded as odd. Darryl’s mother, Rosemary, had been brought up in the house and as a girl had invited Fox’s daughter there to play once or twice. She had returned home gleefully reporting that Rosemary’s house was full of rabbits, jumping over the sofa. ”It made me shudder, but she, being a child, thought it was wonderful,” said Fox.
Rosemary’s mother and father were still living there until a few months ago. The father, a gaunt, grey-bearded man, used to tinker with the cars in the garden. An animal welfare sticker on the old Chevette suggests a regard that somehow degenerated into chaos.
A similar obsession with animals afflicted a second daughter, Stephanie. Last week environmental health officers called by neighbours to her home in Hampshire found the garden choked with dog’s mess, and an array of animals, including 40 birds, inside the small council house.
The family’s unusual behaviour was dismissed by those around them as eccentricity. Nobody got to know them well. ”Look,” said Maisie Davey. ”on Saturday night I sat here with the television on and the curtains closed, the police and the RSPCA and reporters were all around and I didn’t even know. It’s not my business.
”The family didn’t want to be known, so what can you do? The times we talked I can probably count on my hands. As neighbours they weren’t co-operative. We had rows about boundaries and bushes, but that was the extent of the communication. I would have been more bothered if they’d been friendly to me. But they didn’t want to and I had to respect that.”
THE explanations are all too familiar to those working in social services who largely rely on the public to alert them to dangerous situations. But a trail of highly publicised and bungled child abuse cases such as Cleveland and the Orkneys has meant a severe drop in anonymous tip-offs.
The lurid details of Beck’s sexual and physical abuse of the children in his care, the ”grossest breach of trust” he committed by inflicting rape, buggery and indecent assaults on his charges, can only further damage the precarious relationship between the care services and the people they are supposed to help.
”Not only the public but even professionals are now reluctant to ring social services if they suspect something is wrong, because they think they will set in train circumstances like those in the newspapers, the case will be mishandled and the child even more disturbed,” said Norma Howes, an independent social worker.
”They think that if they leave it something will eventually come up, and that’s appalling. People remain pretty naive about the system picking up on children. You so often find in awful cases where a child has been badly hurt or disappeared that everyone expected someone else to know.”
For some social commentators, Darryl’s case is a sad reflection on modern life. ”Whatever you say about the evils of the past, even the village idiot was part of the community,” said Lord Soper, the Methodist peer and social campaigner.
”The fact that you can have this dreadful situation going on without anyone taking any notice illustrates how isolated people have become. In a village you left your doors open. Social services, who have shouldered the responsibility of the traditional village, need either permission or a key to enter. In this case it seems they had neither.”
Notably, however, this case does not follow the grim pattern of other children who have been discovered living in filthy conditions. Most of those have been physically and mentally abused. One little boy, found huddled in a kennel alongside his dog, had learnt to bark and crawl on all fours. Others have been found locked in attics and cupboards, beate and neglected until they have lost the ability to communicate with the outside world.
But Darryl shows none of the signs of a maltreated child. In spite of her own problems, Rosemary seems to have lavished attention on him, acting as a teacher as well as mother and friend. Social workers were astonished to find that he was articulate, literate and numerate. Poised and well-spoken, Darryl has not necessarily suffered lasting damage from his strange childhood.
”He has been talking with other adults and children and he related well with them,” said one.
Norma Howes said: ”It will have done him some harm certainly, in that he does not seem to have had peer relationships or the ability to play. The crucial thing is his relationship with his mother. If she had managed to keep it un-intense, then he may develop quite normally. The problem is that it is probably a very intense relationship because there was just the two of them.”
Hugh Fenwick, assistant area director for Surrey social services, said: ”There does seem to be hope. If the boy can read and write, somebody taught him. If he had been a total recluse he would not have the rapport that he seems to have with people around him”.
Fenwick argued that the fact Darryl had never been to school was also one of the reasons the social services did not know about him, ”because so many investigations are triggered by worried teachers”.
”We rely heavily on intervention by schools or the community to trigger our work.”
Darryl and his mother are now being kept under observation at a special unit while social workers gently try to prise apart the roots of their mutual dependency.
This is described by the director of Surrey social services as throwing ”a warm and loving blanket” around mother and son, calming and reassuring them before making plans for their future.
A case conference on Tuesday will decide whether they can be returned to their home under supervision and whether Darryl can, at this stage, be integrated into a school. But it will be a slow process to unfurl the strange relationship that kept him captive for so long.
December 1st, 1991, Sunday
Gavin Cordon, ‘POLICE PROBE CHILDREN’S HOME SEX ABUSE CLAIMS’
Police have launched an investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a number of children’s homes in north Wales, it was confirmed today. In a statement tonight, Clwyd County Council – which was responsible for a former children’s home, Bryn Estyn in Wrexham – said it had called in police after an internal investigation last year. “This reinforced the council’s concerns and the council therefore requested the North Wales Police Force to investigate a number of issues arising out of the former children’s home at Bryn Estyn in Wrexham which closed in 1984,” the statement said. It added that an individual named in an Independent on Sunday report on the case had now left the council. The police investigation is to be led by Detective Superintendent Peter Ackerley, who said a number of former residents would be interviewed. After the announcement, Wrexham Labour MP Dr John Marek called for an independent and impartial investigation by the Home Office, social services and police. He said he had raised his concerns with Home Office Minister Lord Ferris on November 11 after receiving complaints from a number of his constituents. “There has been talk for a long while about alleged troubles at homes in both Gwynedd and at Bryn Estyn in Wrexham and I feel we should now have a thorough investigation into all these matters,” he added. Dr Marek said he had been assured that the Minister would look into the issues he had raised.
The announcement comes just days after former Leicester children’s home chief Frank Beck was jailed for life after being convicted of sexual assaults on children.
December 1st, 1991
Sarah Lonsdale, ‘Emotional poison that jailed Beck leaves his victims’
THE horrifying legacy of Frank Beck’s persistent abuse of children in his care was revealed last night as victims of the former social worker’s 13 years of terror at Leicestershire children’s homes began to tell their stories.
On Friday, Beck was given five life sentences plus a further 24 years after being convicted on 17 charges of physical and sexual abuse, including buggery and rape of children in council homes.
Christopher Mcguire, now 21, one of the several lost shadows haunting Leicester Crown Court last week, just waiting to see the man who ruined their lives sent to jail, saw his baby son taken away last year after the boy’s mother accused him of molesting the baby and of being ‘bent’. Mcguire has spent a period in prison himself, on an indecency charge.
‘I’ve lost my family, my baby boy, everything,’ he said, ‘My life has been pure and utter hell.’ Frank Beck was convicted of buggering and assaulting Mcguire while the boy was in his teens. Mcguire tried to commit suicide during his stay at the Beeches children’s home in Leicester Forest East.
Another victim of Beck, who only wants to be known as Mr M, spent six months in prison after being found guilty of committing an act of gross indecency on a 17-year-old male. He, like Mcguire, believes it was his experience at the hands of Beck that lead him to become an abuser himself. ‘I lived with the burden of what happened to me for ten years,’ he said, ‘I couldn’t hold down jobs and drank heavily. Then one night when I was a cabbie, I picked up this 17-year-old.
‘We were driving down a country lane and then suddenly all the horrors welled up into my head. Something horrible came over me. It was like a temporary madness. Like I wanted people to see me and the agony I’m in.’ Like Mcguire, and other victims Mark Wright and David Hunt, he has been watching the trial, hoping that seeing Beck go down will help him put the past behind.
Other victims of Beck spoke of similar horrors which plague them. Michael Finney, who was abused from the age of 13 at Ratcliffe Road children’s home in Leicester, says after leaving the home he had a number of sexual encounters with other men, sometimes for money. ‘I thought it was right and I knew no difference,’ he said.
Another, Stefan Iwasiw, 32, says that twitches and shakes have plagued him ever since and he now suffers from nervous disorders.
David Hunt, 29, who was 12 when Beck started abusing him says the experience has left him incapable of having proper relationships. ‘When I have a relationship I cling on for dear life,’ he said, ‘but then it is always me who destroys it in the end.’ David says he will be claiming pounds 100,000 from Leicester County Council in compensation for his experiences.
The council is bracing itself for up to 200 claims for compensation, totalling some pounds 2 million. Brian Dodds, of Leicester solicitors Marron Dodds and Waite, the firm acting for the victims in their compensation, says up to 30 victims have already put in claims. ‘Some will receive only a few thousand, others tens of thousands,’ he said. The council has promised to deal sympathetically with the claims.
The broken men giving evidence against Beck during the 11-week trial which ended on Friday detailed some of the most sickening offences committed against children. The victims were listened to sympathetically by the court. No one doubted their credibility, even though many had criminal convictions themselves.
Yet these witnesses were the same men who, as adolescents, had in vain tried to tell their parents, the police and social workers about what was happening to them. This case, along with the collapse of the Epping satanic abuse trial, highlights the difficulties the authorities have with believing what children say to them.
Mcguire told his parents and the police that he was being abused by Beck at the time. He even telephoned the then director of social services, Mr Brian Rice, to complain about his treatment at Beck’s hands.
No one believed him. Yet as an adult saying the same things, the jury at the trial convicted his abuser on all three charges and Judge Justice Jowitt sentenced Beck to life. After the trial had ended, Mcguire told The Observer: ‘All my life I have tried to get people to listen to me. The main thing I want to know is why is why no one believed what I said.
‘What I want to say is if kids come up to you and say they have been abused, check it out, please, because kids have no one to turn to.’
December 1st, 1991, Sunday
Leading Article: The ‘little bastards’ we would rather forget
A FEW months ago, The Independent published an interview with the officer in charge of a children’s home. He had been a social worker for 20 years. Several of the 10 adolescents in his care had been sexually abused before entering the home; three had recently climbed the roof in the night and assaulted a care worker who tried to talk them down. His salary was pounds 15,000; his six full-time staff were paid between pounds 8,500 and pounds 11,000.
It is not necessary to look further to explain why examples of physical and sexual abuse, shocking neglect, bizarre and cruel theories such as ”pindown” and ”regression therapy” continue to emerge from children’s homes. Salaries are a measure of society’s esteem and, by paying those who run the homes so little, we show how little we esteem them. Most of the children are from broken homes; many have been rejected by their schools as well as by their parents; many have histories of petty or violent crime. They are unloved and, often, unlovable: ”little bastards really . . they give you stick from morning to night”, was one social worker’s description. Dealing with them requires skill, patience and experience beyond the ordinary. Yet 95 per cent of staff in children’s homes – and 20 per cent even of those in charge – are unqualified. Trained social workers can find better prospects almost anywhere else. ”Residential care,” Ian Lang, director of the Children’s Society said recently, ”should be the intensive care unit of social work . . . yet it is staffed by workers who have the lowest status and training of all.”
The cases of ”pindown” in Staffordshire could be dismissed as an aberration, the product of one man’s deranged theories. Since then, more cases have been unearthed; abuse at the Ty Mawr home in South Wales; the horrific career of Frank Beck, convicted on 17 charges of assault and buggery on children in Leicestershire; today, The Independent on Sunday reveals widespread abuse in homes in North Wales. Each case seems more astonishing than the last. The police believe, for example, that Beck abused more than 200 children over 13 years. Slowly, we are learning that, while the service is staffed largely by people whose dedication and sense of vocation are exceptional, abuse is endemic in some children’s homes. Worse, it can remain undetected and unpunished for years.
Society wanted to forget about the young people in children’s homes. They had been written off – a nuisance that could be tidied away for a few years until they left to face the adult perils of unemployment, homelessness and criminality. Local councils had been happy to leave them to people who would work for pitiful rewards, and not to ask too many questions about their motives. If children complained they could be ignored for years by police, psychologists and social services managers. There were no procedures for complaints, no vigilant inspectors for the homes, no politicians who saw votes in exposing their plight.Now, these terrible cases have compelled attention. In recent months, corporal punishment has been banned, complaints procedures introduced, local authority inspection units established. The Government has accepted that many more staff, and all officers in charge of homes, should be qualified. But it is doubtful that this will be enough. Paedophiles and abusers are attracted to residential homes because they see opportunities to exploit vulnerable children. As long as rewards and status remain so low, nobody can afford to probe too deeply into their motives or to sack them too hastily. They will be surrounded by inexperienced staff, whom they may draw into a perverted culture, in which abuse becomes normal practice. A report on pay and conditions in the homes is due shortly. Its recommendations should be implemented with all speed if another generation of children is not to be betrayed.
December 2nd, 1991
Letter: Three-point plan to help children in care, from Mr Adrian Ward
Sir: The Department of Health’s response in the wake of the convictions of the Leicestershire residential workers is quite inadequate. The time for piecemeal inquiries has gone: we now need concerted action to ensure higher standards of care.
Following a pattern seen in previous scandals, Frank Beck had achieved a combination of extreme personal and professional power with great plausibility, including apparent protection by those charged with managing him. This pattern does occur in other professions, but not usually with such disastrous results for the victims as has been happening in residential child care.
While those abuse scandals are not typical of the profession, their recurrence is doubtless symptomatic of the complete disregard and even hostility in which this painstaking work has long been held in many quarters. Society cannot bear to face the pain and trauma of many of the children who need care or contemplate the immense task facing the residential carers.
How else can we explain the gross underfunding of almost every aspect of residential care? This is a deeply negative situation that must now be reversed. Merely increasing the inspection of homes and the vetting of staff will not suffice at all.
The Government should introduce a three-point plan, as follows:
1. Commission research into models of good practice at all levels of the delivery and management of residential care, with an emphasis not merely on sustaining minimal standards but on actively promoting care and treatment for children and their families.
2. Invest greatly increased funds in the training of residential social workers at all levels including post-qualifying training for heads of units and specialist training for all those responsible for the line-management and supervision of residential units.
3. Significantly increase the resources needed for high-quality care, including the funds for more appropriate structures of management, supervision and consultancy for residential staff.
The message is that good quality care requires knowledge and skill as well as proper support and control, and that this will all cost much more money than is being spent. Without such investment and action, there is no reason to expect that anything will change.
Lecturer in Social Work
University of Reading
December 2nd, 1991
In our article, Avuncular figure who stole childhoods, which appeared on November 30, we reported that Virginia Bottomley, the Health Minister, had visited one of the homes run by Frank Beck. The information was in fact given in evidence by Mr Beck. Mrs Bottomley has since denied that she ever visited the homes.
December 2nd, 1991
Maev Kennedy, ‘Police in child abuse check at homes’
NORTH Wales police confirmed yesterday that they are investigating allegations of child abuse at children’s homes in Clywd and Gwynedd.
The allegations that dozens of children were abused in four homes over a period of years, come 48 hours after Frank Beck, former head of three homes in Leicestershire, was given five life sentences for abuse of children and social workers.
Clwyd county council – which was responsible for a former children’s home, Bryn Estyn in Wrexham – said in a statement that it called in police to investigate a number of issues after an internal investigation last year which ‘reinforced the council’s concerns’.
After the announcement, the Wrexham Labour MP, Dr John Marek, called for an investigation by the Home Office.
He had raised concerns with the Home Office minister, Lord Ferris on November 11 after complaints from constituents. ‘There has been talk for a long while about alleged troubles at homes in both Gwynedd and at Bryn Estyn in Wrexham,’ he said.
He had been assured that the minister would look into the issues.
At North Wales police headquarters at Colwyn Bay, a spokesman refused to comment on allegations that two previous police inquiries failed to uncover the evidence, failed to interview key witnesses and alienated others by heavy-handed questioning. He said the force would not comment on issues that might be material to the present inquiry. There had been no arrests so far.
Bob Lewis, the honorary secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said there had been concern among professionals about the situation in parts of North Wales for some time. Members of Naypic, the association representing young people in care, had told him complaints of abuse from people who had been in care were not being taken seriously.
December 3rd, 1991
Robert Morgan, ‘Child care enquiries launched’
NO SOCIAL work qualification or examination could guarantee that evil people wouldnot get into positions of power over vulnerable children, William Waldegrave, the health secretary, said yesterday.
He told MPs that Norman Warner, a former head of Kent social services, is to head a national enquiry into the selection of staff at children’s homes, expected to report by next July.
This is one of two enquiries announced last week after Frank Beck, former head of three Leicestershire homes, was given five life sentences for a reign of terror against children in care.
The second enquiry will look at the way abuse complaints were dealt with by the relevant authorities in Leicestershire.
Mr Waldegrave said that the Beck trial showed the danger that work with vulnerable children, particularly in residential homes, might attract the very people who should be kept at the greatest possible distance from it. ”This means doing more than checking qualifications and setting up systems, though these things should be done.”
David Ashby, Tory MP for Leicestershire North West, welcoming the two enquiries, announced on Friday, said that the country ”is getting rather tired of these scandals”. He hoped that the enquiry would look closely at the quality, education and training of social workers as well as the way in which they were selected.