WARNING: Contains reproductions of anti-semitic material.
A major new report in today’s Mail (Guy Adams, ‘Child sex claims, a police ‘cover-up’ and troubling questions for a Labour peer: This special report reveals the full extent of the deeply disturbing allegations against ex-MP Greville Janner’, Daily Mail, October 4th, 2014) contains details of two very sensitive documents filed within the archives of late Labour MP Andrew Faulds. These concerned allegations against the then-MP for Leicester West, Greville Janner, who retired from the House of Commons in 1997 and now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Janner of Braunstone. Janner was named in the 1991 trial of Frank Beck by one witness as having abused him; Janner was not himself on trial and did not testify, and he was widely believed (including by many MPs) to have been unfairly smeared here.
I have previously posted a large collection of press reports from during the Beck trial and its aftermath, including many of the reactions of other politicians upon Janner’s return to Parliament. Various other reports relating to Janner have emerged during the course of the last year. Janner’s house was searched in December 2013, which was widely reported (See Sonia Elks, ‘Lord Janner’s home searched over historic child sex allegations’, The Times, December 20th, 2013, reproduced below; Lizzie Parry, ‘Police raid home of Labour Lord as part of historic sex abuse probe and spend two days searching his £600,000 apartment’, Daily Mail, December 20th, 2013; Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013; ‘Lord Greville Janner’s home searched as part of child sex investigations, say police’, Telegraph, December 20th, 2013). The Leicester Mercury reported in early May that the Crown Prosecution Service were considering evidence against Janner (‘Leicester peer Greville Janner in child abuse inquiry’, Leicester Mercury, May 3rd, 2014), then in June it was reported that Janner’s offices in the House of Lords had been searched as part of police investigations (‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’, The Times, June 23rd, 2014, reproduced below; Rebecca Camber, ‘Police raid offices in Parliament of Labour peer Lord Janner as part of inquiry in historic sex abuse claims’, Daily Mail, June 23rd, 2014).
Then in July, a report in the Mirror spoke of over 20 allegations of historic child sex abuse being made against an unnamed peer (including one by a man who was aged seven at the time), many relating to offences which took place in children’s homes, but reporting that the peer in question would not be interviewed or arrested as he had been declared unfit by two doctors (Tom Pettifor and Nick Sommerlad, ‘Labour peer escapes probe over 20 child sex claims because he is ‘suffering dementia”, Daily Mirror, July 9th, 2014). The peer in question was reported to have entertained the young people with magic tricks. These doctors should be identified and their reports made public. In August, Sean O’Neill in The Times revealed that there had been orders in 1991 not to arrest Janner, only interview him by appointment in his home (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’, The Times, August 8th, 2014, reproduced below) – on this, see my earlier post on the subject, with details of David Gandy, who was the temporary Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, after Sir Allan Green had been arrested after being discovered kerb-crawling. Then in September, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Mike Creedon spoke of having been forbidden to arrest Janner after allegations first surfaced in 1989 (before the Beck trial, when Creedon was a Detective Sergeant) (Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest’, The Times, September 25th, 2014, reproduced below; Chris Greenwood, ‘Police ‘told to limit abuse probe into MP”, Daily Mail, September 26th, 2014)
Here I am reproducing the two documents in the Faulds archives. I would urge much caution with these, as they clearly emerge from some far right sources and include various vicious anti-semitic claims. I stress here that I am in no sense endorsing their contents, and find the anti-semitic remarks (and such things as the red eyes on the cover of the booklet) obscene, and again urge scepticism because of their contents (it has been plausibly suggested to me that the picture of Janner with the ‘Scouting for Boys’ book has been doctored); however, as Faulds thought they were important enough to keep and file, then I think they should be made available. I have erased the name of the individual who made the allegations against Janner.
I am about to leave to join a vigil at 114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington (beginning 1:45 pm) to commemorate the many who were abused within the Islington care system as a result of careless, foolish and incompetent policies during the time when Margaret Hodge, now Labour MP for Barking, was leader of Islington council. Amongst the speakers there will be Liz Davies, former social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on the abuse. We have heard much, rightly, about abuse and its cover-up from members of the Conservative Party, including major allegations against late former MPs Peter Morrison, Nicholas Fairbairn, Rhodes Boyson, and others, and wider allegations relating to the sinister events at Elm Guest House; also against former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, about whom pioneering Labour MP and campaigner Simon Danczuk wrote a book together with Matt Baker. But Labour have their own questions to answer as well: about Islington Council under Hodge’s tenure; about the relationship of current Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Minister for Policing Jack Dromey MP, and former MP Patricia Hewitt during their time at the National Council for Civil Liberties when one section of this group’s activities were strongly influenced by the Paedophile Information Exchange, which seems to have been easily tolerated by these people (see also here and here) – there is definitely much more information to be revealed about this; about former MP and leadership contender Bryan Gould’s expression of support for PIE’s aims; about allegations of a Blair minister being involved in serious abuse in Lambeth and also (perhaps another minister) who was investigated as part of Operation Ore; about the activities of former Labour MP and Speaker of the House George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy; about the role of local Labour politicians in allowing grooming gangs to abuse over 1400 girls in Rotherham (and perhaps in various other localities as well); and more generally about the extent to which many members of the liberal left tolerated, even encouraged, leading paedophile figures such as Peter Righton so long as they clothed their activities in the language of gay rights. Only when Ed Miliband and the Labour front bench declare their readiness to co-operate absolutely and look honestly and unflinchingly about what was known and what was covered up, will the Labour Party have any real credibility on this issue; otherwise they appear like a party prepared to look the other way in the face of some forms of abuse, only paying attention to those for which they can gain party political advantage.
Officers from Leicester police spent two days searching the 85-year-old former barrister’s £600,000 North London flat on Monday and Tuesday as part of a continuing investigation.
However, it is understood that the swoop was part of a historic child sex investigation dating back many years.
A spokesman said: “Leicestershire Police can confirm its officers executed a search warrant of a property in Barnet, London as part of an ongoing criminal inquiry.
“No arrests have been made at this stage.”
Lord Janner, who was made a life peer as Baron Janner of Braunstone in Leicester in 1997, is well known as the former chairman of British Jews and a prominent speaker on Jewish rights, who has been hailed for his efforts to see Holocaust victims receive compensation.
Builders working on a renovation next door to his home saw a number of police cars and officers at the address on Monday and Tuesday.
One said: “There were loads of police cars here on Monday and Tuesday.
“They were coming and going all day.
“I don’t know what happened, but they’ve been back quite often ever since.”
A young man, who identified himself as “Jameson” and claimed he was the peer’s personal spiritual healer said: “The Lord won’t come to the door.
“He is exhausted with all the stress of dealing with the police.
“He’s old and needs his rest. I don’t want to say any more.”
He served as an MP for 27 years for Leicester North West and then Leicester West until his retirement in 1997, when he was made a life peer.
The widowed peer says on his official website that his hobbies include autograph collections, glass and other antiquities, swimming, speaking his nine languages and his family.
It also says he is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
The Times, June 23rd, 2014
‘Child abuse detectives search peer’s office’
Police have searched the Westminster office of Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer, in connection with historical child sex abuse allegations. Leicestershire police confirmed that its officers had searched part of the House of Lords in March. They added that the former MP, 85, had not been arrested.
A spokeswoman said: “Leicestershire police can confirm that in March 2014 its officers carried out a search of part of the House of Lords in connection with an ongoing inquiry into non-recent child sexual abuse.
“A search warrant was obtained in advance from a crown court judge and the search was conducted in accordance with established House of Lords procedures, and monitored by senior officials from the House of www.Lords.No arrests or charges have been made, and inquiries continue.”
The search follows a raid of the peer’s home in north London, last year.
The father of three is a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and has been active in efforts to get compensation for Holocaust victims. On his website, Lord Janner says that he speaks nine languages and is a member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
The Times, August 8th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Police told not to arrest MP over abuse claims’
Detectives investigating a Labour MP over child abuse allegations more than 20 years ago were stopped from arresting him, The Times has learnt.
Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.
A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices.
Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.
Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.
The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.
Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further.
Police executed search warrants at Lord Janner’s home in Golders Green, north London, in December and at his office at the House of Lords in March. A partial file of evidence has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is providing the police with “investigative advice”.
The peer, now 86 and said by friends to be in very poor health, has not been arrested. He has strongly denied the allegations against him in the past.
The new investigation into Lord Janner and others is one of dozens of historic abuse inquiries which come under the umbrella of Operation Hydrant, a nationwide steering group headed by senior police officers and set up to ensure consistent approaches to cases involving “persons of public prominence”.
A Leicestershire police spokesman said that the force was “investigating several complaints in relation to Operation Enamel – it is an inquiry into allegations of criminal conduct and all appropriate lines of inquiry will be progressed”.
Asked if the decision not to arrest Lord Janner was part of the new investigation, the spokesman said: “This is an operational matter, no further details will be disclosed.”
Lord Janner’s current solicitor did not respond to requests for comment, but in 1991 the MP for Leicester West told the House of Commons that there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations made against him.
The Times, September 25th, 2014
Sean O’Neill, ‘Child sex inquiry into MP ‘was blocked’; Police ‘forbidden to make arrest”
An investigation into child abuse allegations against a prominent politician 25 years ago was blocked, one of the country’s most senior police officers has revealed.
Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire, told The Times that he was a detective sergeant in 1989 when he was ordered to limit his inquiries into Greville Janner, a leading Labour backbench MP. Mr Creedon said there was “credible evidence” against the MP, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC, that warranted further investigation, but he was given orders forbidding an arrest or a search of his home or offices.
“The decision was a clear one – he will be interviewed by appointment and there won’t be a search of his home address or his constituency office or his office in the House of Commons,” Mr Creedon said.
The order was “conveyed” by a superintendent but Mr Creedon believes it came from chief officers. He added: “It was a decision made by people more senior than me.”
The allegations against Lord Janner, 86, who was a senior Labour backbencher and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, surfaced during the police investigation into Frank Beck, the manager of Leicester children’s homes who died in jail after being convicted of abusing boys in his care.
A former resident of one home alleged that he had had a two-year sexual relationship with the MP when he was a teenager in the 1970s. The alleged victim later aired the allegations in public when he gave evidence at Beck’s trial in 1991.
However, Mr Creedon said there were concerns about the credibility of the evidence against Lord Janner, notably that the key witness was in thrall to Beck despite being the victim of abuse.
The alleged victim also gave evidence for Beck. None of the other hundreds of residents interviewed made any allegations against the MP.
The witness had produced affectionate letters that were allegedly from the MP, some on House of Commons notepaper, and provided a detailed description of the inside of the MP’s Hampstead home. Mr Creedon said: “I look at this now, as a chief constable, as a senior investigating officer, in the light of many inquiries before and since – and one of the lines of inquiry could have been to search the house.
“My view has always been that the allegations were very serious, there was enough evidence to put a file before the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], and as investigating officers our job was to search out as much evidence as possible to prove or disprove the offence. My interpretation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act would be that under the circumstances it would have been justified to search the house [and] offices.”
He said he did not know who made the decision to limit the investigation.
The 1989-91 inquiry was limited to an interview at Leicestershire police headquarters during which Lord Janner gave “no comment” answers to detectives’ questions. A file was sent to the CPS, which decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.
When the allegations became public during Beck’s trial in 1991, the jury was told they were a “red herring” and not relevant to the case. Lord Janner later said there was “not a shred of truth” in the allegations against him.
Those allegations are central to a new police investigation into Lord Janner and others, called Operation Enamel, which has led to warrants being obtained to search the peer’s home in north London and his office in the House of Lords.
The peer, who is in poor health, has never been arrested and has not been interviewed by detectives from the new investigation. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Decision not to arrest Greville Janner in 1991 – then Attorney General and DPP need to answer questionsPosted: August 8, 2014
[PLEASE NOTE: In no sense does this post imply any guilt or innocence on the part of those against who abuse allegations have been made. It is simply about questions needing to be answered so that public can have confidence that allegations of abuse involving politicians and other VIPs are treated just like those involving less prominent persons]
A report by Sean O’Neill in today’s Times alleges that in 1991 a last minute decision was made not to arrest then Labour MP Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, over allegations of child abuse:
Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.
A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices. Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.
Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.
The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.
Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further. (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police ‘told not to arrest MP over abuse claims”, The Times, August 8th, 2014).
In May and July I blogged an extensive series of reports from the Frank Beck Trial and its aftermath. In that trial, a woman, herself alleging abuse by Beck, reported hearing an argument between a boy and Beck about visiting ‘a man called Greville Janner’ (Craig Seton, ‘Woman and two men accuse care officer of sex abuse’, The Times, September 27th, 1991). The boy apparently boasted that that he was a rent boy (Ian Katz, ”Abuse victims’ tell of their childhood torment’, The Guardian, September 27th, 1991). Beck then alleged that Janner had ‘buggered and abused’ one boy ‘for two solid years’ (‘MP Janner abuse child, says sex case man’, Press Association, October 30th, 1991; ‘Home boss says MP abused boy’, The Times, October 31st, 1991; ‘Man in sex trial accuses Greville Janner of abuse’, The Independent, October 31st, 1991). Beck said ‘I had spent two years putting right the damage that man had done to that boy and he (Janner) had the bloody audacity to complain to me because the boy had been down to London and met him accidentally. I was incensed’, that Janner had written to Beck, and the letter had been put on the boy’s social services file (”I wrote to MP over abused boy’ – children’s home chief’, Press Association, October 31st, 1991; ‘Sex trial man ‘wrote to MP over abused boy’, The Independent, November 1st, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Home chief says he wrote to MP about abused boy’, The Guardian, November 1st, 1991).
Beck then denied in court attempting to blackmail Janner over the relationship, and that he had tried to bring Janner and the boy together in 1989, claiming instead that Janner had sent the boy £50 (‘Children’s home head denies trying to blackmail MP’, The Guardian, November 2nd, 1991). A few days later, Beck claimed that the police were hiding an affair between the boy (identified as aged 15 at the end of the affair) and Janner, about who the police had told him they knew, that the boy had stayed with Janner in the Holiday Inn in Leicester, that Beck wrote to Janner after the boy had married and become a father, thinking that Janner might feel guilty enough to help the boy find employment. Throughout, Janner’s lawyers made clear that they had advised him not to comment during the trial (‘Police covered up MP’s sex with boy, ex-children’s worker alleges’, The Guardian, November 5th, 1991). Mr A (aged 30 at the time of the trial), who was the boy at the time, appeared in court and alleged that Janner had indeed abused him from when he was 13, saying he had been fondled when he slept at Janner’s home after meeting him at the House of Commons, and had been buggered in a double bed in a hotel in Janner’s constituency and twice during a lecture tour in Scotland. Janner was also claimed to have ‘simulated sex’ five or six times during the period he knew the boy, who said in general, when asked if he liked what happend, ‘No, I did not, and I tried to stop it’. He said Janner had given him money, toys, clothing and concert tickets, and taken him to expensive restaurants. One Christmas present of a 10-speed racing bicycle had been returned by Beck after Janner had allegedly sent it to Mr A. Mr A claimed to have first met Janner when staying at a children’s home in Wigston, Leicester, when he was a volunteer for a community project that Janner had launched. He also affirmed Beck’s allegation about having met Janner often at the Holiday Inn, and that they would use the hotel swimming pool, with the agreement of the management, when it was supposed to be closed, sharing naked showers, washing each other down. Mr A said he had stolen money from Janner’s wallet as revenge, after which Janner had warned that he would stop seeing him if he did it again; there were said to have been no more sexual incidents after this. Beck claimed to have reported the relationship between the boy and Janner to Dorothy Edwards, the then Director of Social Services for Leicestershire. Mr A claimed that weekly trips had been arranged for him to the MP’s London home and to the Holiday Inn by Barbara Fitt, then Officer-in-Charge of Station Road children’s home, Wigston, Leicester, though conceded that this would have been impossible with the first visits, as Fitt had only taken over the home four months before he left it. Mr A also said that his own behaviour had deteriorated, and he had sex with both boys and girls there, and often ran away, before moving to Ratcliffe Road home (which was run by Beck). Beck had claimed that he had rescued the boy from abuse by Janner and prevented further contact; Mr A himself said that Beck had put him on the right path as a teenager, counselled him over his relationship with Janner, and stopped him seeing him. (Craig Seton, ‘Former boy in care says Labour MP sexually abused him’, The Times, November 9th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Man tells of sex sessions with MP while in care’, The Independent, November 9th, 1991; ‘Abuse care witness tells of sex with MP: Beck ‘rescued boy from affair with Greville Janner’, The Guardian, November 9th, 1991).
A letter was produced in court by Mr A, signed ‘Safe journey, Love Greville’, dated July 7th, 1975, when the boy was aged 13, allegedly after they had slept together; he said that he had kept other letters during their relationship. Mr A said that he had written to Janner after Beck’s arrest, affirming ‘I believe Mr Beck to be innocent and should not be treated in the way he is being treated, and Mr Janner may have been able to help him in some way.’ There was however some confusion over whether he recalled staying at Janner’s house one or two times (‘Witness in abuse trial ‘kept letters from MP”, The Independent, November 12th, 1991; ”Janner letter’ in court’, The Guardian, November 12th, 1991).
Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that the claims of abuse by Janner, which he referred to as the ‘great Janner diversion’, were meaningless, and an attempt to ‘divert attention’ from Beck (‘Abuse claims against MP ‘a red herring”, The Independent, November 16th, 1991; ‘Abuse claim against MP ‘red herring’, The Guardian, November 16th, 1991). John Black, for the defence, asked the jury to decide whether Mr A knew Janner, visited Janner’s house, and so on, emphasising the importance of the letter, and asking them to consider whether Beck had really put a stop to the relationship (‘MP’s letter to boy ‘extraordinary’, The Guardian, November 19th, 1991).
Beck was found guilty of multiple charges of sexually and physically abusing boys and a girl in his care during a 13-year period (Craig Seton, ‘Children’s home head guilty of sexual abuse’, The Times, November 27th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Beck found guilty of sexual abuse of children in care’, The Independent, November 27th, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Head of home guilty of abuse’, The Guardian, November 27th, 1991; Craig Seton, ‘Social worker raped teenager’, The Times, November 28th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Children’s homes head convicted of raping girl in care’, The Independent, November 28th, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Head of children’s homes guilty of rape: Abuse case jury’s third night in hotel to ponder charges’, The Guardian, November 28th, 1991; ‘Five more verdicts on Beck’, The Times, November 29th, 1991).
On November 30th, 1991, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (who was then David Gandy***), announced that they were to take no action against Janner, but also that Janner had been interviewed by Leicestershire police at his own request over the allegations made by Mr A, a file had been sent to the DPP, and that other sources had also indicated that no evidence had been found by police that would substantiate the allegations (Craig Seton, ‘DPP has no case against Janner’, The Times, November 30th, 1991). However, another report indicated that the Crown Prosecution Service were then still deciding whether launch proceedings, and would make a decision the following week (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”, The Independent, November 30th, 1991). But no charges were brought, and Janner affirmed his innocence in the House of Commons on December 3rd, 1991:
As the House knows, Frank Beck of Leicester was convicted of a series of filthy and most serious crimes and received what must be a near record sentence—five life terms and a total of 24 years’ imprisonment. He called Paul Winston as a witness. Long ago, when Winston was a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home, my family and I tried, unsuccessfully, to help him. Soon after, he was placed in a home run by Beck. After 15 years of Beck’s influence—including a period when Winston lodged in Beck’s private home—and after I had refused to provide Beck with references and shortly before Beck’s trial was due to begin, they combined to make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct against me.
Their motive was made blazingly clear by a letter that I received only yesterday from a former cellmate of Beck’s. I do not know the man, but he took it on himself to communicate with me. He writes that Beck told him that he—Beck —was going to frame me. According to Beck, that would take the light off him. To that end, Beck had enlisted the help of Winston. The former cellmate also wrote that the police knew that he was willing to give evidence to that effect if the Crown thought it necessary to call him. In the event, it did not, but the allegations against me were precisely as the prosecution alleged in Beck’s trial —an attempted diversion from the reality of Beck’s guilt. Both verdict and sentence showed—happily—that the attempt failed totally.
226 However, is it not horrendous that Beck and Winston were able to make such terrible and lying accusations against me in court and that the media could, and with honourable exceptions did, report these falsehoods, all under the cloak of absolute privilege? I had effectively no legal rights in the matter, and I was not allowed even to nail the lies. No wonder many people were mystified by my uncharacteristic silence —it was imposed by the cruel operation of the rules on contempt. (see the transcript from the proceedings in Hansard)
Janner was roundly defended by Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East (neighbouring Janner’s constituency of Leicester West), Gwyneth Dunwoody, then Labour MP for Crewe and Natwich, Merlyn Rees, then Labour MP for Morley and Leeds South, Patrick Cormack, then Conservative MP for Staffordshire South, Alex Carlile, then Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomery, Ivan Lawrence, then Conservative MP for Burton, and various others, as well as the then Solicitor-General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, in a debate on contempt of court. Whilst no change to the contempt laws occurred as a result, the house appeared united in accepting that the allegations against Janner were entirely false and that he had been unjustly smeared in court; there were cheers in the Commons in support of him (Alan Travis, ‘Janner cheered in Commons’, The Guardian, December 3rd, 1991). On December 7th, it was definitely confirmed that police were to take no action against Janner (‘Janner: Police confirm no action’, Press Association, December 7th, 1991).
Beck, who had received five life sentences and a further twenty-four years in prison, protested his innocence to the last, and died in prison, apparently of a heart attack, in 1994; there were some who claim that he was murdered by other prisoners, though at present I have not had chance to check the sources of these claims.
More recently, as part of Operation Enamel, Janner’s house was searched in December 2013 (Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013) and also his offices at the House of Lords (Ben Endley, ‘Child abuse detectives raid Labour peer’s office in House of Lords’, Daily Mirror, June 21st, 2014).
In order for there to be confidence that proper procedure was followed in 1991, the then Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew (now Baron Mayhew of Twysden) and former Acting Director of Public Prosecutions David Gandy (and his predecessor Sir Allan Green), need to answer the allegations raised in O’Neill’s piece today. The suggestion that pressure was placed not to arrest a prominent MP (as in the case of the late Cyril Smith) is most disturbing, and should not be left unanswered, whether or not new charges are brought.
***On October 3rd, 1991, Sir Allan Green resigned as DPP after having been found kerb crawling. (Francis Gibb, ‘Green’s fall from grace shocks legal profession’, The Times, October 4th, 1991). His successor, Barbara Mills, was not appointed until February 1992 (Claire Dyer, ‘Top woman to replace Sir Allan Green as DPP’, The Guardian, February 7th, 1992); in the interim period, David Gandy, Green’s deputy, served as acting DPP (‘DPP Post advertised for first time’, Press Association, November 10th, 1991).
I have posted an extensive series of press reports relating to the trial and conviction of Frank Beck, an officer in charge of several children’s homes in Leicestershire, in 1991. These go from the beginning of the trial, through the conviction, subsequent reaction and inquiry, up until Beck’s death in prison in 1994. This does not dwell upon the subsequent debate between on one hand Mark D’Arcy and Paul Gosling, in their book Abuse of Trust: Frank Beck and the Leicestershire Children’s Homes Scandal (London: Bowerdean Publishing Co, 1998), and Richard Webster on the other, in his article ‘Crusade or witch-hunt’, Times Literary Supplement, January 22nd, 1999, as to whether Beck was responsible for an earlier murder, and wider issues of the nature of extent of his guilt or otherwise. Simply these contain as many articles as possible detailing the course of the trial, and in particular the allegations concerning then Labour MP Greville Janner.
(Continued from Part 4)
United Press International
February 8th, 1993
‘Report criticizes social service in Britain over sex offense case’
A county social services department ignored repeated sex offense complaints against one of its employees for more than seven years, allowing him to abuse scores of youngsters in three childrens’ homes because they were afraid ”to rock the boat,” said a report released Monday.
The employee, Frank Beck, 50, was sentenced to five life sentences in 1991 for sex offenses, including rape, sodomy and physical abuse against young people in three homes for children. It was the biggest sex abuse case ever to come before a British court.
Since the trial, 84 people claiming to be Beck’s victims have sought compensation. A report on Beck’s employment by Leicestershire County Social Services from 1973 to 1986 was commissioned by the government after the court case revealed complaints against him seven years before his dismissal.
The 355-page report released Monday found that the social services department had no child-care strategy, no firm leadership and no framework for investigating complaints.
The report said Leicestershire Social Services chiefs allowed Beck to continue working with youngsters although police had made four separate investigations into allegations that he was abusing children.
The report described the department as a ”management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could generally flourish,” and said there was a general attitude of ”out of sight, out of mind.”
Beck was allowed to introduce his own controversial style of regression therapy, although he had no qualifications in that sort of work, the report said. It said he was also allowed to foster a boy even after complaints about him were passed to police.
The report criticized former council director Brian Rice, who provided a good reference for Beck.
”That he wrote a reference for Mr. Beck…is inexcusable,” it said. ”There is no evidence in the hands of the inquiry to suggest that Mr. Rice was other than grossly negligent in writing the reference.”
The report named three people with direct responsibility for Beck during his employment and also singled out two former directors of social services for particular criticism.
February 8th, 1993
‘BLAME LIES WITH LOCAL AUTHORITY, SAYS MINISTER’
Blame for the Frank Beck affair rested squarely with the local authority and could not be attached to the Government, junior health minister Tim Yeo, who is responsible for residential homes, said today. There was not a single paragraph in the report of the Government inquiry headed by Mr Andrew Kirkwood QC “which suggests that any action by Government could have countered the dreadful mismanagement and neglect of the situation by Leicestershire County Council”, Mr Yeo said. He rejected a suggestion by Leicestershire social services director Brian Waller that it was now up to the Government to monitor existing guidelines better to ensure another Beck did not slip through the net. “I think it is pretty shoddy that Mr Waller should try and pass the blame on to the Government,” he told the BBC Radio 4 programme The World at One. Mr Yeo added: “As far as Frank Beck is concerned the blame has to lie firmly with the local authority.” The Government had already set up the Warner Committee of inquiry, which reported in September, and implemented a number of recommendations which related to recruitment and selection of staff. “We have accepted recommendations that there should be better-trained and qualified staff in the childcare field generally,” Mr Yeo said. “The only way to ensure that this appalling catalogue of abuse is not repeated is if the local authorities themselves are constantly vigilant in the way they supervise what happens in those establishments for which they are directly responsible.”
February 8th, 1993
Linda Jackson and Mervyn Tunbridge, ‘WE’LL LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED, SAYS SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF’
No stone will be left unturned to investigate allegations against members of care staff, a social services chief pledged today. The promise came from Leicestershire County Council social services director Brian Waller shortly after the publication of the hard-hitting report of a Government inquiry into the Frank Beck affair. Mr Waller said: “No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct. “We will continue this process and we intend to ensure our homes are run by people of impeccable reputation and behaviour.” He went on: “Residential care has been a Cinderella service for more than two decades. “It has become a backwater which is used as a last resort when everything else fails. Generally staff are unqualified and lowly paid, which creates a climate where abuse might foster.” Residential childcare services needed urgent attention at both local and national government level, he said. Mr Waller, who has been with Leicestershire County Council since 1988, said that in the wake of the Frank Beck affair allegations were made against a total of 24 people – of whom four were currently suspended. In addition three senior members of staff – including deputy director of social services Michael Wells – were currently being investigated. Of the four suspensions, one involved an allegation of sexual abuse against a child, two were for alleged assault, and one involved a claim of poor child care practices. Five allegations were investigated by the police, he said, while in four cases members of staff would face a disciplinary panel later this month.
Mr David Prince, chief executive of Leicestershire County Council since 1991, said no responsible authority could be other than profoundly concerned about the way in which important responsibilities towards vulnerable young people were neglected. “We owe it to the children now in our care, to future generations of children and to the public at large to ensure that every possible action is taken to prevent a repetition of these events,” he said. “The county council has already been pursuing a number of initiatives and any further action necessary will be taken.” The events surrounding the Beck case took place at a time of major change, when residential care was a neglected service, Mr Prince went on. Constant monitoring and permanent vigilance were the only way to protect children in local authority homes. The county council would ensure that the conduct of existing staff members was investigated urgently and thoroughly. In recent years a series of positive measures had been taken to improve childcare services and restore public confidence. But the best guarantee of children’s safety arises from ensuring that their voices were both heard and taken seriously, Mr Prince said. There was now much tighter control on recruitment and selection and improved training and supervision of residential home staff. The events described in Mr Kirkwood’s report made very distressing reading, and the authority was totally committed to learning from past mistakes, Mr Prince added.
Leicestershire’s Assistant Chief Constable Mr Tony Butler today appealed to abused youngsters not to suffer in silence. Mr Butler said children should “be confident that they will be listened to”. “Children are at risk and the police service as a whole are doing everything they can to minimise that risk,” he said. Mr Butler said it was unfair to point the finger at any individual officers over mistakes made during investigations and he said there was no evidence of any serious misconduct. “Although the report makes some criticisms of past performance, these have to be set in the overall context of the public awareness of child abuse during this period extending back 20 years,” he said. “Because the investigation was concerned with incidents which occurred more than seven years ago, the changes in police practice and procedures covered by recommendations in the report have already been implemented.” Mr Butler added: “The decision to undertake an independent investigation should reassure the public that we are committed to being open and accountable in our work, and determined to learn lessons from the past to improve services in the future.”
February 8th, 1993
‘BECK IN TEARS ON RADIO’
Frank Beck was still protesting his innocence and defending his methods as he spoke to his solicitor from Gartree prison tonight. He broke down in tears as he told his lawyer Oliver D’Sa: “I am not a bloody monster despite what they say. I have got feelings.” During the telephone conversation, broadcast on BBC Radio Leicester, Beck protested he was the victim of a witch hunt. “The media are guilty of almost murder. They drive people to the end just to get a good story.” He claimed that the inquiry had access to documents which were not available at his trial and which drew into question allegations that he ran his homes in isolation, and the use of regression therapy. His voice shaking, Beck said: “It has been going on so long, people saying the same thing. Someone’s got to listen, someone’s got to read the file.”
February 8th, 1993
Linda Jackson, ‘ABUSES THAT SHOCKED THE NATION’
The case of Frank Beck, who was given five life sentences in 1991 for his sytematic abuse of children in care, horrified the nation. During the 11-week trial involving the biggest case of child sex abuse to come before a British court, details were given of Beck’s 13-year “reign of terror”. Up to 200 youngsters were said to have been preyed on by the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes. Ministers were appalled by the case. They were even more disturbed to discover Leicestershire allowed Beck to continue working with youngsters despite four separate police investigations into alleged abuse by him. As Beck was sentenced, William Waldegrave, the former health secretary announced two inquiries. One would investigate the selection of staff in Britain’s children’s homes. The other, chaired by Andrew Kirkwood QC which is reporting today, would find out why staff at one of Britain’s biggest social services departments failed to act on warnings which would have lead them to the discovery of a catalogue of abuse. Allegations of physical and sexual abuse were first made in 1980 – seven years after Beck started working as an officer in charge of a children’s home. They continued over the next six years, from children and social workers, and on four different occasions were passed on to police. After one investigation, police charged Beck with assault. However, he was subsequently acquitted after a crown court trial in 1982. Despite these allegations, Beck continued working at The Beeches, Leicester Forest East, where he had been officer in charge since 1978. He had spent the previous five years working at The Poplars – a home in Market Harborough – before moving to Ratcliffe Road children’s home. He eventually resigned in 1986 after he was suspended following an allegation of sexual harassment by a fellow member of staff. However he was given references which enabled him to take jobs with Brent and Hertfordshire social services. He also worked with charities. Twelve months later, Brian Rice, the then director of social services and three senior officers left to take early retirement.
February 8th, 1993
Linda Jackson, Mervyn Tunbridge and Grania Langdon-Down, ‘COMBINATION OF BLUNDERS ALLOWED SEX ABUSER’S REIGN OF TERROR’
Social worker Frank Beck was able to conduct a 13-year reign of terror in children’s homes and systematically subject youngsters to sexual abuse thanks to a combination of blunders, two damning reports said today. Leicestershire County Council’s social services department, which allowed Beck to run three of its children’s homes, was in a state of chaos. It lacked a child-care strategy and firm leadership, and youngsters’ complaints were not believed, said a Government inquiry into the scandal. And police who were called in to investigate children’s complaints made mistakes “through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding of child abuse”, according to an inquiry by a senior detective. The two investigations were launched after Beck was sentenced to five life terms in jail in 1991 after an 11-week trial – the biggest child sex abuse case to go before a British court. It was said that Beck, a former Royal Marine and Liberal councillor, could have preyed on up to 200 children. Police conducted four separate investigations into allegations about Beck’s activities in Leicestershire. But when Beck left the county, its then social services director, Brian Rice – who took early retirement in 1987 – wrote him a reference which enabled him to work for other social service agencies.
The 355-page report on the Government inquiry by Mr Andrew Kirkwood QC said:
Social services managers did not believe youngsters who complained to sexual abuse, while warning signs were ignored by managers whose behaviour was “naive” and at times “astonishing”.
The department had a “management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could generally flourish”.
Junior staff and middle managers confronted with complaints were anxious not to rock the boat, and there was a general attitude of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Beck was allowed to introduce his own controversial style of regression therapy – although he had no qualifications in therapeutic work.
At the time of Beck’s employment there was no coherent childcare strategy, homes were shrouded in secrecy, and little monitoring of individual children’s homes.
Record-keeping within the social services care branch was at best “slipshod and haphazard” – with no impetus for change or improvement.
Beck’s willingness to take on the most difficult children, combined with his “forceful, manipulative and at times petulant personality”, made managers “afraid to challenge” him.
Any investigations which were made into complaints were not recorded properly. Key witnesses were not interviewed.
The police report, by West Mercia Police Chief Superintendent David Foster under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, said:
Mistakes occured “through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding about child abuse” and through an inadequate system.
It was more than possible that Beck’s activities would have been exposed at an earlier date, particularly through the investigations in 1977, 1985 and 1986 – “The substance of these complaints was greater than that of the complaint in 1989 which led to Beck’s ultimate conviction.”
In almost every case, contact with police came because a child absconded from a children’s home – but officers failed to establish why the children ran away, and the force policy on missing persons failed to identify running away as a potential indicator of abuse.
Officers openly disbelieved youngsters’ complaints, with some being openly hostile and looking on them as young criminals.
In almost every case, police returned children to the home where the abuse took place – and in every case, the social worker alleged to have carried out the abuse was allowed to remain at work throughout the investigation.
Police interviewed the children either at the home where they were abused, often in front of the abuser, or in a police station, but failed to record or investigate complaints and did not question vital witnesses.
One officer allowed the abusers to control and manipulate his inquiries so he failed to obtain crucial evidence.
The circumstances meant that children who complained of abuse “and other child witnesses” were intimadated and manipulated, in some cases leading to further abuse.
Publication of Mr Kirkwood’s report prompted Leicestershire social services director Brian Waller to pledge: “No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct. “We will continue this process and we intend to ensure our homes are run by people of impeccable reputation and behaviour.” He went on: “Residential care has been a Cinderella service for more than two decades. It has become a backwater which is used as a last resort when everything else fails.” Residential childcare services needed urgent attention at both local and national government level, added Mr Waller, who has been with Leicestershire since 1988. Allegations were made against a total of 24 people – of whom four were currently suspended – in the wake of the Beck affair. Three senior members of staff – including deputy director of social services Michael Wells – were also being investigated, Mr Waller said. Five allegations were investigated by police, he said, while in four cases members of staff would face a disciplinary panel later this month. Leicestershire County Council chief executive David Prince said: “We owe it to the children now in our care, to future generations of children and to the public at large to ensure that every possible action is taken to prevent a repetition of these events. “The county council has already been pursuing a number of initiatives and any further action necessary will be taken.”
The police report was requested by former Leicestershire Chief Constable Michael Hirst, who retired at the end of January, and its findings were endorsed by the PCA. PCA member William McCall praised Leicestershire police for commissioning the inquiry but said that while much was done to put mistakes right, there were still lessons for all police forces. “All forces should test their procedures for handling abuse cases in the light of these recommendations,” he said. The police report’s recommendations include:
Training officers to interview abused children and recording all allegations as crimes, irrespective of the youngsters’ character or background.
Ensuring that no child was returned to the home or made to repeat his or her comments to a social worker at the home.
Improving relationships between police and social services. Mr Kirkwood’s report was directly critical of a number of Leicestershire county council officials. But it was damning in condemning Mr Rice, saying it was “inexcusable” of him to write the reference which enabled Beck to leave Leicestershire after being suspended over a sexual harrassment allegation and go to work for other local authorities and charities. The report added: “There is no evidence in the hands of the inquiry to suggest that Mr Rice was other than grossly negligent in writing the reference.” Mr Kirkwood said today that most of the events with which his inquiry was concerned were now more than seven years old, but it was not safe to treat it all as merely past history. The report provided a factual basis upon which constructive discussion could now take place in the quest for the best standards of practice and management in the difficult area of residential childcare.
Local Government Chronicle (LGC)
February 8th, 1993 Monday
‘LEICESTERSHIRE PROMISES TO ACT ON KIRKWOOD REPORT’
HIGHLIGHT: Leicestershire CC has pledged to do everything possible to prevent a repeat of the abuse perpetrated by Frank Beck …
Leicestershire CC has pledged to do everything possible to prevent a repeat of the abuse perpetrated by Frank Beck in the county’s children’s homes.In response to Andrew Kirkwood QC’s report on his inquiry into the Beck affair, published this morning, the county council says: ‘No responsible authority could be other than profoundly concerned about the way in which important responsibilities towards vulnerable young people were neglected’.The Kirkwood report, commissioned by the Department of Health, strongly criticises Leicestershire social services management for allowing Mr Beck’s crimes to go unchecked. Mr Beck was jailed last year for abusing children in the county’s residential homes which he ran between 1973 and 1986.Mr Kirkwood attacks the ‘management vacuum’ in the social services department, where managers ignored complaints and failed to stand up to Mr Beck. There was an inadequate complaints procedure and children who complained were not believed, he found.In a parallel report commissioned by the Police Complaints Authority, West Mercia Police Chief Superintendent David Foster found the Leicestershire police were also negligent in failing to act on complaints of abuse which they were receiving as early as 1973.Leicestershire CC this morning welcomed Mr Kirkwood’s report, which will be considered at a special social services committee meeting on 24 February.The county admits residential care was a neglected service at the time of these events.
‘Although residential child care in Leicestershire is now very different in its management and general approach, the county council is in no way complacent’, it says.The conduct of existing staff members criticised in the report will be investigated ‘urgently and thoroughly’, the council says. Some employees have already been suspended and disciplinary proceedings started.The county says it has taken measures to: ensure children in its homes are safe from abuse; strengthen complaints procedures; improve management; and introduce a development plan for the children’s residential service.Introducing his report, Mr Kirkwood said he hoped the lessons of ‘these very worrying events’ would be learnt widely, not just in Leicestershire. It must not be treated as past history, he said.Mr Kirkwood said he had made few recommendations because many recommendations and reforms have already been made in the field of residential child care over the past three years.’This report touches on a number of practical topics and provides a factual basis upon which discussion can take place in the quest for best standards of practice and management’, he said.
February 8, 1993, Monday
Patrick McGowan, ‘A CAREER MARKED BY HISTORY OF COMPLAINT’
SOCIAL worker Frank Beck was able to conduct a 13-year reign of terror in children’s homes and systematically subject youngsters to sexual abuse thanks to a combination of blunders, two reports said today.
Leicestershire County Council’s social services department, which allowed Beck to run three of its children’s homes, was in a state of chaos, according to a £1.25 million Government inquiry into the scandal.
And police called to investigate children’s complaints made mistakes ‘through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding of child abuse’, according to an inquiry by a senior detective.
The Government inquiry report paints a picture of a social services department lacking a child care strategy and without firm leadership. Some officers were afraid to stand up to Beck.
As a result Beck, 50, now serving five life terms and 24 years in jail, was able to continue his attacks on the children in his care.
The £report, by Andrew Kirkwood QC, says: ‘There was a general predisposition not to believe children.
‘There was an assumption that children either had an ulterior motive for complaints or would be likely, for whatever reason, to fabricate.’
The 355-page report highlights a ‘management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could generally flourish’.
Despite being confronted with complaints, junior staff and middle managers were anxious not to rock the boat.
There was a general attitude of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ it says.
Those investigations which were made into complaints were not recorded properly and key witnesses were not interviewed.
In most cases there was no process for senior officers to consider thoroughly whether an investigation was conducted satisfactorily.
The abuse was able to continue because staff at the homes Beck ran were subject to a rule of secrecy which forbade discussion about treatment methods. Also Beck controlled visits by parents and outside social workers.
Concerns about Beck should have been noted by management when he first applied for a job in 1973. However, he was allowed to continue his questionable ‘regressive therapy’, in which adolescents were put into nappies and abused, despite having no qualifications in therapeutic work.
The report describes Beck, a former commando, as ‘a forceful, manipulative and at times petulant personality’.
This made him a person management officers were afraid to challenge.
Several senior officers in Leicester social services come in for severe criticism, including Edwin Ross and John Cobb, both principal assistants, and John Noblett, a principal officer.
But the most damming criticism is saved for social services director Brian Rice who wrote a glowing reference for Beck as evidence of child abuse mounted against him.
‘There is no evidence in the hands of the inquiry to suggest that Mr Rice was other than grossly negligent in writing the reference.’
February 9, 1993, Tuesday
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Disbelief that allows perverts to thrive’
THE Kirkwood enquiry is the ninth report in eight years to highlight disquiet at the way children’s homes are run. All have drawn attention to the same shortcomings but their findings have gone unheeded.
Public attitudes have been marked by a disbelief that abuse can occur in the homes combined with a lack of interest in the purpose of the homes. Mr Kirkwood says it would ”not be wise” to assume that the events his report records could never happen again. Brian Waller, director of social services in Leicester, said it would be dreadful if the Kirkwood report was not acted upon. ”Every authority needs to build in checks and balances and the government must help create a more positive view of residential care.”
The number of children in care has fallen by more than a third in the past ten years but the problems of looking after them have grown worse. The fall reflects greater efforts by local authorities to keep families together and minimise heavy-handed intervention. Those left in care are the most damaged and vulnerable.
About 11,000 of the most disturbed children, who are not considered suitable for fostering, are in 1,300 homes. These are not orphans and truants whose lives can be transformed by kindness, but often violent, abusing and self-mutilating children, a third of them sex abuse victims and who make huge demands on staff.
In spite of the demands of the work, four out of five staff in children’s homes are unqualified. The recent Warner report into social worker recruitment found many homes made no attempt to discover how candidates related to children or to uncover incidents in their past that could cause concern. One in ten heads of homes and one in three other staff were appointed before references were received and there were delays of up to three months in checking criminal records.
Since the Beck case, the government has announced tougher rules for the inspection of homes and selection of staff. Specialists believe that more needs to be done.
David Berridge, of the National Children’s Bureau, said: ”Residential care has gone into a vicious spiral over the past ten years and suffered appalling neglect from government and professional associations which has required a series of scandals to focus attention on it.”
February 9th, 1993
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Police prejudice and negligence helped Beck escape detection’
THE social worker Frank Beck was able to abuse and terrorise children for 13 years because police and social services managers never believed their claims of sexual abuse.
Two reports published yesterday condemn Leicestershire County Council and the police for a combination of blunders that failed to stop Beck’s cruel reign until 1989, when he received five life sentences in Britain’s biggest child sex abuse trial.
The 355-page report on the government enquiry into the case said Leicestershire County Council’s social services department, which allowed Beck to run three of its children’s homes, was in chaos. It lacked a child-care strategy and firm leadership.
Police who were called in to investigate children’s complaints made mistakes ”through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding of child abuse”, according to an enquiry by Chief Supt David Foster of West Mercia police.
The two investigations were launched after the 11-week trial of Beck and two other child abusers, at which it was said that the former Royal Marine and Liberal councillor may have abused up to 200 children.
Police conducted four separate investigations into allegations about Beck’s activities in Leicestershire. But when Beck left the county because of alleged sexual harassment, its then social services director, Brian Rice, wrote a reference that enabled him to work for other social services agencies.
The report on the government enquiry, by Andrew Kirkwood QC, said social services managers did not believe children who complained of sexual abuse, and warning signs were ignored by managers whose behaviour was naive and at times astonishing.
Mr Kirkwood said the department had a ”management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could generally flourish”. Junior staff and middle managers confronted with complaints were anxious not to rock the boat, and there was a general attitude of ”out of sight, out of mind”.
Any investigations that were made into complaints were not recorded properly. Key witnesses were not interviewed. At the time of Beck’s employment, there was no coherent child-care strategy, homes were surrounded by secrecy and there was little monitoring of individual homes. Mr Kirkwood said Beck’s willingness to take on the most difficult children, combined with his ”forceful, manipulative and at times petulant personality”, made managers ”afraid to challenge” him.
He was allowed to introduce his own controversial style of regression therapy even though he had no qualifications in therapeutic work.
David Prince, chief executive of Leicestershire County Council, said: ”We owe it to the children now in our care, to future generations of children and to the public at large to ensure that every possible action is taken to prevent a repetition of these events.”
Brian Waller, director of Leicestershire social services, said: ”No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct.”
The police report, carried out under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, said Beck’s activities could have been exposed by investigations into his conduct in 1977, 1985 and 1986. ”The substance of these complaints was greater than that of the complaint in 1989 which led to Beck’s ultimate conviction.”
In almost every case, contact with police came because a child absconded from a children’s home but officers failed to establish why the children ran away.
Officers openly disbelieved children’s complaints, with some being hostile and looking on them as young criminals, Mr Foster said.
In nearly every case, police officers returned children to the home where the abuse took place, and in every case the social worker alleged to have carried out the abuse was allowed to remain at work throughout the course of the investigation. Police interviewed the children either at the home where they were abused, often in front of the abuser, or in a police station, but failed to record or investigate complaints and did not question vital witnesses.
William McCall, a member of the Police Complaints Authority, said the report contained lessons for police everywhere. ”All forces should test their procedures for handling abuse cases in the light of these recommendations.”
The recommendations include training officers to interview abused children and to record all allegations as crimes, irrespective of the youngsters’ character.
February 9th, 1993
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Eight staff face brunt of criticism’
EIGHT senior managers, three of whom are still employed by Leicester County Council, are picked out for criticism in the Kirkwood report. Allegations have been received against a further 24 staff, independently of the enquiry, who are now under investigation.
The most stringent criticisms are levelled at five staff who have retired: Dorothy Edwards, director until 1980; Brian Rice, director from 1980-7; Terry Smith, deputy director; Peter Naylor, assistant director; and John Noblett, principal officer for children’s homes.
Also named and still employed by the authority are Michael Wells, the present deputy director; John Cobb, team manager for old people’s homes; and Ron Fenney, senior solicitor. Brian Waller, director of social services, said they would be investigated with others named in the report who were less severely criticised and could be subject to disciplinary action.
February 9th, 1993
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Blunders by council and police blamed for child sex scandal’
A SERIES of blunders by social services managers and police was responsible for one of the worst child sex abuse scandals of recent years, two reports said yesterday.
Incompetent managers allowed the social worker, Frank Beck, to abuse and terrorise children for 13 years because they were blind to the warning signs and deaf to the children’s complaints. Beck was sentenced to five life terms in jail in 1989 for abusing up to 200 children.
A government enquiry into the case by Andrew Kirkwood, QC, and a police report condemn Leicestershire County Council and the police for incompetence, negligence and bad practice. Tim Yeo, parliamentary secretary at the health department, said the report revealed a horrifying story of neglect and mismanagement. ”There can be no excuse for the history of neglect and incompetence which rings out of every page of this report. The terrible catalogue of abuse perpetrated by Frank Beck, a qualified social worker, and others ran unchecked as a result of Leicestershire County Council’s abysmal failure to conduct even the most basic management scrutiny of what was happening in one of their own homes.”
Leicester County Council yesterday pledged to carry out a full investigation. ”No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct,” Brian Waller, its social services director, said.
Three senior managers among the eight singled out for criticism in the Kirkwood enquiry are still employed by the council. Allegations against a further 24 staff currently employed are being investigated. Mr Waller said he was ”absolutely confident” that there could be no repetition of the Beck scandal.
But David Berridge, research director of the National Children’s Bureau, said there had been gross neglect of residential care for children for 20 years. ”Faced with constant criticism, residential social workers have not believed in what they have been doing and have gone into a spiral of despair. Central and local government share some of the responsibility but a major part of the blame must be laid at the door of social services managers,” he said.
Beck, who has lodged an appeal, continued to protest his innocence yesterday.
February 9th, 1993
‘The lessons of abuse’
Residential childcare needs to become more professional
Half a century after the Curtis committee revealed the deplorable shortcomings of children’s residential institutions, yesterday’s report by Andrew Kirkwood, QC, tells a depressingly familiar tale. The enquiry into the case of Frank Beck, the Leicestershire care worker who abused 200 children physically and sexually over 13 years, is the ninth such investigation since 1985 to identify serious flaws in the system of residential care. Piecemeal change will no longer do.
Beck, who is now serving five life sentences, headed three children’s homes despite a series of police investigations into allegations of abuse. According to Mr Kirkwood’s report, Leicestershire officials betrayed ”astonishing” naivety in their dealings with Beck. Where professionalism was most needed, amateurism was most evident.
More than half of all children in care are now fostered outside institutions, a proportion which is expected to grow. Those left in residential care will increasingly be the most disturbed, disruptive and unloved. This makes reform all the more urgent.
The Beck case has already forced change on those who monitor child care. The health department inspectorate is under review, as are local inspection services. The Children Act has formalised the requirement for independent inspection and entrenched a complaints procedure which should rescue many more children from silent suffering. Chief police officers should also heed yesterday’s separate report by West Mercia police, which recommends special training for officers dealing with abuse cases and better local liaison between police and social services departments.
But quality control mechanisms will be meaningless without a transformation of the profession which provided Beck with a grotesque niche. Becoming a careworker should be both harder and more rewarding. Eighty per cent of employees in children’s homes have no professional qualification. A compulsory diploma in residential child care, taking into account experience as well as formal training, is an essential first step.
Beyond this, the Kirkwood report must pave the way for structural change. Local authority control of children’s residential care appears to be virtually irredeemable. Ministers should now consider withdrawing homes from council management and handing them over to local governing bodies, which should include distinguished lay members as well as town hall, police and staff representatives.
Local authorities would remain responsible for placement of children in care. But each grant-maintained home would be free to hire and fire, investigate complaints, and develop its own character. A properly constituted governing body could tap the local support and expertise that these bleak institutions need. Like the children in its custody, the system itself needs a new kind of care.
The Irish Times
February 9th, 1993,
Linda Jackson, Grania Langdon Down, Mervyn Tunbridg, ‘Blunders favoured child sex abuser, two inquiries find. Leicestershire’s social services department lacked a child-care strategy’
A SOCIAL worker, Frank Beck, was able to conduct a 13-year reign of terror in children’s homes and systematically subject youngsters to sexual abuse thanks to a combination of blunders, two reports said yesterday.
Leicestershire County Council’s social services department, which allowed Beck to run three of its children’s homes, was in a state of chaos.
It lacked a child-care strategy and firm leadership, said a government inquiry into the scandal.
Police who were called in to investigate children’s complaints made mistakes “through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice, compounded by a lack of understanding of child abuse”, according to an inquiry by a senior detective.
The two investigations were ordered after Beck was sentenced to five life terms in jail in 1991 after an 11-week trial.
It was said that Beck, a former Royal Marine and Liberal councillor, could have preyed on up to 200 children.
Police conducted four separate investigations into allegations about Beck’s activities in Leicestershire.
But when Beck left the county, its then social services director, Mr Brian Rice – who took early retirement in 1987 – wrote him a reference which enabled him to work for other social service agencies.
The 355-page report of the government inquiry by Mr Andrew Kirkwood QC, said:
Social services managers did not believe children who complained of sexual abuse, while warning signs were ignored by managers whose behaviour was naive” and at times “astonishing”.
Junior staff and middle managers confronted with complaints were anxious not to rock the boat, and there was a general attitude of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Beck was allowed to introduce his own controversial style of regression therapy – although he had no qualifications in therapeutic work.
Record-keeping within the social services care branch was at best “slipshod and haphazard”.
Beck’s willingness to take on the most difficult children, combined with his “forceful, manipulative and at times petulant personality”, made ‘ managers
“afraid to challenge” him.
Any investigations which were made into complaints were not recorded properly.
The police report, by West Mercia Police Chief Supt David Foster under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, said:
Mistakes occurred “through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice, compounded by a lack of understanding about child abuse” and through an inadequate system.
It was more than possible that Beck’s activities would have been exposed at an earlier date, particularly through the investigations in 1977, 1985 and 1986.
In almost every case, contact with police came because a child absconded from a children’s home – but officers failed to establish why the children ran away, and the force’s policy on missing persons failed to identify running away as a potential indicator of abuse.
Officers openly disbelieved children’s complaints.
In almost every case, police returned children to the home where the abuse took place – and in every case, the social worker alleged to have carried out the abuse was allowed to remain at work throughout the investigation.
Police interviewed the children either at the home where they were abused, often in front of the abuser, or in a police station, but failed to record or investigate complaints and did not question vital witnesses.
Publication of Mr Kirkwood’s report led Leicestershire’s social services director, Mr Brian Waller, to pledge: “No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct.
“We will continue this process and we intend to ensure our homes are run by people of impeccable reputation and behaviour.”
Allegations were made against a total of 24 people – of whom four were currently suspended – in the wake of the Beck affair, he said.
The police report was ordered by the former Leicestershire Chief Constable Michael Hirst, who retired at the end of January, and it’s findings were endorsed by the Police Complaints Authority.
The ‘slice report’s recommendations include:
Training officers on how to interview abused children and recording all allegations as crimes, irrespective of the youngsters’ character or background.
Ensuring that no child was returned to the home or made to repeat his or her comments to a social worker at the home.
February 9th, 1993
‘Beck could have been stopped ‘as early as 1977”
THE full horror of Frank Beck’s sadistic and perverted regime began to come to light only in 1989 when a former resident in his ”care” made a statement to a social worker, and then to the police, cataloguing physical abuse and humiliation suffered at the Ratcliffe Road children’s home.
”The hell started on the day I walked into the place . . . When I tried to explain that I missed my mother they trapped me between their legs and dug their fingers in my ribs and made me scream and cry out in pain. Then they put me in a wooden playpen. They just pounced on who they fancied. We were forced to use bottles. We were humiliated and degraded. We were angry and hurt.”
The police investigation which followed resulted in Beck’s conviction for a series of sex attacks and five life sentences for four offences of buggery and one of rape. Mr Justice Jowitt described him as ”a man of very great evil who abused his position of trust to pursue evil and lustful desires”.
But for 13 years the cries for help from abused children at the three homes run by Beck between 1973 and 1986 went unheeded, despite complaints to police and Leicestershire County Council. The report by Chief Superintendent David Foster, of West Mercia Police, into Leicestershire Police’s involvement makes clear Beck’s activities could have been exposed by 1977. Chief Supt Foster said that after considering 15 of the 29 complaints: ”It is the view of this inquiry that . . . there is more than a possibility Beck’s criminal activities would have been exposed at an earlier date. This is particularly true of the investigations in 1977, 1985 and 1986. The substance of these complaints was greater than that of the complaint in 1989 which led to Beck’s ultimate conviction.”
But the report said that there was no ”equitable basis” for bringing disciplinary charges against any officer. It also emphasised that there was no evidence of any criminal misconduct by the officers: ”. . . many of the police officers we have identified in these 29 cases are now retired but there are other officers in these cases no less open to criticism whom we have not been able to identify”.
The report of the government inquiry by Andrew Kirkwood QC criticised a succession of council officers, including three serving officers – Michael Wells, deputy director of social services; John Cobb, a team manager in the social services department; and Ron Fenney, deputy county secretary. Criticisms of them and other named staff will be investigated by a team of officers who started work yesterday. If complaints are upheld, disciplinary proceedings could result in dismissal.
Brian Rice, who was director of Leicestershire social services from 1980 to 1986, is accused by Mr Kirkwood of gross negligence for ”inexcusably” writing a reference for Beck after he had resigned over sexual harassment complaints from two members of staff, which enabled Beck to continue working with vulnerable and disturbed children.
Mr Kirkwood makes no specific recommendations. But the police report calls, among other things, for the Home Office to review the legal position over the disclosure of information by police when, at the end of a criminal investigation, it is decided there is insufficient evidence to justify charges but the person’s conduct gives rise to serious concerns.
The police merely advise social services of the decision. They are reluctant to make other disclosures which could enable social services to consider the problem because it could lead to civil litigation or breaches of police discipline regulations. So a suspected child abuser could remain in post, the report said. ”Understanding the police reticence, this inquiry believes the Home Office should urgently review the legal and disciplinary position and provide adequate protection and safeguards for the police.”
The report found that officers had openly disbelieved the youngsters’ complaints, some showing outright hostility. They looked on them as young criminals and some considered that a beating was ”no more than summary justice”.
They interviewed the children either at the home where they had been abused, often in front of the abuser, or in a police station; failed to record or investigate complaints; and did not question vital witnesses. One officer allowed the abusers to control and manipulate his inquiries so that he failed to obtain crucial evidence.
In almost every case, police returned the child to the home where the abuse had taken place. In every case, the social worker alleged to have carried out the abuse remained in post throughout the investigation. ”The inquiry has established that these circumstances allowed the child complainant and other child witnesses to be intimidated and manipulated,” the report said – in some cases leading to further abuse.
Among the recommendations in the report were:
Officers should be properly trained to interview abused children and all allegations should be recorded as a crime, irrespective of the youngsters’ character or background;
No child should be taken back to the home or made to repeat his or her comments to a social worker at the home;
Consideration should be given to suspending or transferring temporarily an employee alleged to have carried out the abuse and to removing the child from the home until the investigation is complete;
Interviews with children should be held in an informal atmosphere, with no more than two adults present. Complainants should be told in person the outcome of the inquiry.
February 9th, 1993
Marianne Macdonald and Rosie Waterhouse, ‘Minister pledges to improve the quality of staff’
A Government minister yesterday promised to give residential child care a higher status so that suitable, better qualified people are attracted to the job.
Welcoming the Kirkwood report, Tim Yeo, Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, said: ”We have accepted recommendations for better qualified people to run children’s homes. It will be harder for others to follow the likes of Frank Beck: we have tightened the legislation considerably with the Children Act. But in the end it does depend on constant vigilance in the way staff are selected and recruited and the way complaints for children are handled.”
Endorsing Mr Yeo’s comments, Brian Waller, Leicestershire’s director of social services, said: ”Residential care has been a Cinderella service for more than two decades. It has become a backwater which is used as a last resort when everything else fails.” Homes had been staffed by people who were unqualified, lowly paid and badly managed, he said.
David Prince, chief executive, said the council had embarked on a development programme to improve the care of children through enhancing the status of social workers and attracting high-calibre staff.
Calls for a social services council to prevent paedophiles ”playing the system” were repeated by the National Institute for Social Work. Such a body would stem similar abuses by issuing licences for all social workers, including residential care staff, and would provide an independent avenue of complaint.
A formal proposal for a general social services council was made to the Department of Health last month by social services, local authority and trade union representatives. Initial government response was described as ”cautious”.
Daphne Statham, of the National Institute for Social Work, said the proposed council would plug the loopholes in the system which Beck exploited. ”What Frank Beck and a number of others have done very effectively is to play the system by moving to a job in another area when people get suspicious. Under the current system, when they resign investigations cease. . .
”The proposed council would check that by keeping a record of any suspicious circumstances when someone moved on, and that suspicion would follow them to their next employment.”
Dick Clough, of the Social Care Association, which represents residential and care staff, said the inquiry showed how experienced people such as Beck could run regimes unchallenged. ”If he had been questioned by the police four times and if the local authority was not listening to complaints someone could have contacted the council, had it existed, and it could have been investigated.”
Peter Smallridge, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said the report by Andrew Kirkwood QC, ”should draw the line under what has been a sickening, though fortunately rare, example of a thoroughly unpleasant person gaining access to young children”.
He commended Leicestershire social services for improving child protection following the Beck case by establishing comprehensive complaints procedures, appointing children’s rights officers and tightening appointment procedures.
But the British Association of Social Workers voiced fears that yesterday’s report would give rise to counter-productive bureaucracy in children’s homes. Gwen Swire, assistant general secretary, said: ”If you’re looking after kids 24 hours a day you can’t rush to a manual to see what you can and can’t do when a kid is going bananas. You may end up preventing staff from doing a good job.”
February 9th, 1993
Rosie Waterhouse, ‘Child abuse victims welcome reports’
CLAIMS for compensation for 86 victims of Frank Beck will be strengthened by reports detailing incompetence and mismanagement, according to a solicitor overseeing their cases.
Damages are expected to reach at least pounds 1m against Leicestershire County Council.
It employed Beck during his 13- year reign of terror in children’s homes and is thought to have set aside pounds 5m to cover damages and costs.
Brian Dodds, the liaising solicitor for the 86 complainants who allege abuse by Beck and other staff in the county’s children’s homes, welcomed the report into their management by Andrew Kirkwood QC.
”It will be extremely useful. It can only reinforce the claims being made and will very significantly increase the damages because of the aggravating feature of negligence it highlights,” Mr Dodds said.
He added that many complainants would receive relatively small amounts, but at least 10 were likely to win pounds 70,000- pounds 100,000 in
Beck, a social worker, is serving five life sentences after being convicted in 1991 of charges of buggery, rape and sexually abusing children in his care.
The Kirkwood report, and another into the actions of Leicestershire police, said that the abuse continued, despite a succession of complaints, because of a combination of incompetence and negligence, ignorance and navety, by police officers and social services staff.
Despite scathing criticism of the inaction and mishandling of a succession of complaints by police and the social services, no police officer or Leicestershire County Council staff member involved in the Beck scandal has yet been dismissed or faced disciplinary proceedings.
A report by Chief Superintendent David Foster, of West Mercia police, said no officer would be disciplined because there was no ”equitable basis” for bringing disciplinary charges.
It also emphasised that there was no evidence of any criminal misconduct by officers.
The report added: ”It is not only the fact that many of the police officers we have identified in these 29 cases are now retired but there are other officers in these cases no less open to criticism whom we have not been able to identify.”
The council has set up a team of officers to see if any named member of staff or officer named in the report should face disciplinary action. ”No stone will be left unturned” in investigating the past conduct of staff, Brian Waller, Leicestershire’s director of social services since 1988, said. But no action will be taken against staff and officials who have since resigned or retired.
Mr Waller also disclosed that in an internal council inquiry into the running of children’s homes since Beck’s conviction, complaints against a further 24 employees had been investigated.
Five of the complaints were investigated by police. One allegation of sexual abuse is still being investigated but in the other four cases no charges were brought.
Four staff were suspended, one for alleged sexual abuse, two for assault and one for bad child care practice. These are in addition to staff named in yesterday’s report by Mr Kirkwood.
The police report contains some of the most serious criticism of officers in recent years, attacking their prejudice against the children and their open disbelief.
The police inquiry, conducted under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, revealed that Beck’s activities could have been exposed as early as 1977.
Ch Supt Foster’s inquiry into 29 cases in which children complained of abuse between 1973 and 1986 uncovered a catalogue of errors by investigating officers.
”Mistakes occurred through a combination of incompetence, negligence and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding about child abuse. They were also the product of an inadequate system,” he wrote.
The Kirkwood report shows that Beck was given a free hand to practise dubious ”regression therapy” techniques; that his methods were fundamentally abusive and that although unqualified in therapeutic techniques he was considered an expert by nave officers.
It criticises the lack of a coherent child care strategy, weaknesses in every tier of management, ineffectual monitoring of homes, and says warning signs of Beck’s gross sexual offences and humiliating regression therapy went
Tim Yeo, an Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, said: ”The terrible catalogue of abuse perpetrated by Frank Beck, ran unchecked as
a result of the council’s abysmal failure to conduct even the most basic management scrutiny.”
The Herald (Glasgow)
February 9th, 1993
‘Blunders condemned in 13-year saga of abuse in children’s homes’
A SOCIAL worker was able to subject youngsters in children’s homes to sexual abuse over 13 years because of a combination of blunders, two reports said yesterday.
Leicestershire County Council’s social services department, which allowed Frank Beck to run three of its children’s homes, lacked firm leadership, and youngsters’ complaints were not believed, said a Government inquiry into the cases, for which Beck received five life terms in 1991.
An inquiry by a senior detective also said that police called in to investigate children’s complaints made mistakes “through a combination of incompetence, negligence, and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding of child abuse”.
It was said that Beck, a former Royal Marine and Liberal councillor, could have preyed on up to 200 children.
Police conducted four separate investigations into allegations about his activities. But when Beck left Leicestershire its then social services director, Mr Brian Rice, who took early retirement in 1987, wrote him a reference which enabled him to work for other social service agencies.
The 355-page report on the Government inquiry by Mr Andrew Kirkwood, QC, said social services managers did not believe youngsters who complained of sexual abuse, while warning signs were ignored by managers whose behaviour was naive and at times astonishing.
The department had a “management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could generally flourish”.
Publication of Mr Kirkwood’s report prompted Leicestershire social services director, Mr Brian Waller, to promise: “No stone will be left unturned in looking at past conduct.
“We will continue this process and we intend to ensure our homes are run by people of impeccable reputation and behaviour.”
Mr Waller has been with Leicestershire since 1988.
Blame for the affair rested squarely with the local authority and could not be attached to the Government, Health Minister Tim Yeo, who is responsible for residential homes, said later.
There was not a single paragraph in the report by Mr Kirkwood “which suggests that any action by Government could have countered the dreadful mismanagement and neglect of the situation”.
He rejected a suggestion by Mr Waller that it was now up to the Government to monitor existing guidelines better to ensure another Beck did not slip through the net.
“I think it is pretty shoddy that Mr Waller should try and pass the blame on to the Government,” he told the BBC Radio 4 programme The World at One.
“The only way to ensure that this appalling catalogue of abuse is not repeated is if the local authorities themselves are constantly vigilant in the way they supervise what happens in those establishments for which they are directly responsible.”
Mr Kirkwood’s report said that junior staff and middle managers confronted with complaints had not been anxious not to rock the boat, and there was a general attitude of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Beck was allowed to introduce his own controversial style of regression therapy, although he had no qualifications in therapeutic work.
At the time of Beck’s employment there was no coherent childcare strategy, homes were shrouded in secrecy, and little monitoring of individual children’s homes was carried out.
Beck’s willingness to take on the most difficult children, combined with his “forceful, manipulative, and at times petulant personality,” had made managers afraid to challenge him.
The police report, by Chief Superintendent David Foster of West Mercia Police and carried out under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, said mistakes had occurred “through a combination of incompetence, negligence, and prejudice compounded by a lack of understanding about child abuse”.
It was more than possible that Beck’s activities would have been exposed at an earlier date, particularly through investigations in 1977, 1985, and 1986 — “The substance of these complaints was greater than that of the complaint in 1989 which led to Beck’s ultimate conviction,” Mr Foster said.
In almost every case, contact with police came because a child absconded from a children’s home — but officers failed to establish why the children ran away, and the force policy on missing persons failed to identify running away as a potential indicator of abuse.
Officers openly disbelieved youngsters’ complaints, with some being openly hostile and looking on them as young criminals.
In almost every case, police returned children to the home where the abuse took place — and in every case, the social worker alleged to have carried out the abuse was allowed to remain at work throughout the investigation.
The police report was requested by former Leicestershire Chief Constable Michael Hirst, who retired at the end of last month.
Leicestershire’s Assistant Chief Constable, Mr Tony Butler, felt it was unfair to point the finger at any individual officers over mistakes made during investigations, and he said there was no evidence of any serious misconduct.
Mr Butler added: “The decision to undertake an independent investigation should reassure the public that we are committed to being open and accountable in our work, and determined to learn lessons from the past to improve services in the future.”
Mr Kirkwood’s report was directly critical of a number of Leicestershire County Council officials.
But it was damning in condemning Mr Rice, saying it was “inexcusable” of him to write the reference which enabled Beck to leave Leicestershire after being suspended over a sexual harassment allegation and go to work for other local authorities and charities.
Mr Kirkwood said yesterday that most of the events with which his inquiry was concerned were now more than seven years old, but it was not safe to treat it all as merely past history.
The report provided a factual basis upon which constructive discussion
The Guardian (London)
February 9th, 1993
‘LEADING ARTICLE: THE BECK RECKONING’
MUCH has changed since those cries for help from abused children in Leicestershire’s residential homes were ignored by both police and social workers. Frank Beck, the head of three homes, began serving five life sentences 14 months ago for sexually and physically abusing children under his care. Two new reports on the Leicester scandal were published yesterday, documenting the separate failures of police and social services. Yet, long before Beck was prosecuted, changes were already taking place, with far fewer children in residential homes. The 1989 Children Act added impetus. Last week’s review of its first year showed substantially fewer children being taken into compulsory care. Then there have been the special inquiries into residential care (Warner and Howe), with many new regulations and procedures. Yet only a fool would suggest that the system has eliminated the risk.
The failure of social service departments to eradicate abuse in their homes has been well documented. Only last month, a separate inquiry in Sheffield found the local department had taken “no appropriate action” in the face of complaints over 13 years against a residential social worker involving children as young as six. Yesterday’s reports show the police equally at fault in not listening to children. A study of 29 Leicestershire cases – out of an alleged 200 involving Beck – suggests that he could have been exposed as early as 1977, but for police incompetence, negligence and prejudice.
It would be silly to ignore the new procedures that have been put in place; yet there is still no room for complacency. Last week’s review of the Children Act found continuing and considerable uncertainty within some local councils over what they should do when abuse in a residential home occurs. Yesterday’s report points to the need for a new procedure that would allow the police to pass on information to social service departments after investigations where there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Tim Yeo, the social services minister, spoke yesterday of the need for “constant vigilance” on the part of local councils. If only he would take a spoon of his own medicine. The Minister is still refusing to set up a monitoring unit, as advocated by the Warner Committee, to act both as a watchdog and as an agent for change. Yet social services have moved from a locally governed local service to become virtually a locally administered national service, receiving 85 per cent of funds (and regulations) from Whitehall. Ensuring vulnerable people are protected is now the inalienable responsibility of the Minister. Children should not have their childhood stolen from them.
February 9th, 1993
David Brindle, ‘BECK INQUIRY: POLICE DID NOT BELIEVE ABUSED CHILDREN; David Brindle looks at two reports which show police and social services failed children in council care / ‘Evidence of physical injury was often not taken seriously. Some saw a beating as summary justice”
POLICE did not believe children who said they had been abused by Frank Beck, the social worker later given five life sentences for systematically sexually and physically molesting youngsters in his care in children’s homes in Leicestershire.
This is the stark central conclusion of an inquiry report, published yesterday, into the police role in the affair. “Some officers showed their disbelief and even openly expressed it,” says the report by Chief Superintendent David Foster, of West Mercia constabulary, and endorsed by the Police Complaints Authority.
Even where there was evidence of physical injury, it was often not taken seriously. “From our discussions with officers, there is no doubt that some considered that a beating was no more than summary justice,” the report states.
Mr Foster’s conclusions raise serious questions about police attitudes to young people in care. He says Leicestershire officers disbelieved Mr Beck’s victims purely because they were in care and might have absconded in order to complain; because they might have been initially hostile to questioning or told lies; and because “such children normally committed crime whilst missing and told lies, including false allegations, to divert attention from their criminal activities”.
Without such prejudice, and without the incompetence and negligence which blemished the police role in the affair, Mr Beck’s activities would have been exposed sooner than they were in 1990, Mr Foster says.
The inquiry was carried out at the request of Leicestershire police. It looked at 29 cases where complaints were made about Mr Beck; in 15 some form of investigation was launched. In two of them, the “investigation” involved returning the youngsters to the children’s home and making them repeat their allegations to a social worker; in another eight cases, the children were interviewed by police but no complaint of crime was recorded and reports were submitted in only three instances. The inquiry report says the police acted wrongly on all 10 occasions.
Of the remaining five cases, one has no records surviving but the records of the other four all reveal defects: in one instance, in 1982, a prosecution was brought against Mr Beck but he was cleared possibly, it is said, because of flaws in the police evidence.
In another case, in 1977, Mr Beck was himself asked by the police to facilitate their inquiries into alleged abuse at a home he was running.
In a third, in 1985, the investigating officer displayed “manifest incompetence” in failing to conduct full inquries.
In almost every case, the youngster making the complaint was returned to the home in question and, in every case, the social worker named as the abuser was allowed to remain in post throughout the investigation – in some instances being present during interviews with the accuser.
Notwithstanding these failures to investigate complaints, the report says Leicestershire police had an information system, monitoring missing children, which ought to have enabled collation of a picture of consistently suspicious incidents involving Mr Beck. “Had the system analysed the information it received, then Beck should have been identified as being worthy of serious investigation at a much earlier date.”
The report calls on the Home Office to review the law in respect of information disclosure, so that chief police officers may be given discretion to alert employers to suspicions about their staff even when investigation of alleged child abuse leads to no charges.
“Because such disclosure might well lead to formal disciplinary proceedings, then the facts disclosed should only be those which the police themselves would have been prepared to present as evidence in court,” Mr Foster says. “This inquiry identifies this aspect of disclosure to be of great importance, if only to ensure that child abusers are identified and removed from post.”
A summary of the report is available, free of charge, from the PCA, 10 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AE
February 9th, 1993
‘POLICE DID NOT BELIEVE ABUSED CHILDREN; ‘Management vacuum’ created atmosphere for ill-treatment’
THE EASE with which Frank Beck was able to physically and sexually abuse youngsters in his care was due in large part to a “management vacuum” in Leicestershire social services department, the independent inquiry into the county council’s role in the affair reported yesterday.
Much of the responsibility must lie with Dorothy Edwards and Brian Rice, successive social services directors during Mr Beck’s 13-year career in the county, according to the report by Andrew Kirkwood, QC.
The attitude of senior managers as a whole, Mr Kirkwood says, was summed up by one who had said: “I have hard-to-place kids and here is someone who will take them without asking too many questions. I dare not upset him.”
Mr Beck, a former Royal Marines sergeant, was recruited to work in Leicestershire children’s homes in 1973. He quickly started applying his own highly irregular therapeutic techniques, although he had no qualifications to do so, and was given a virtual free hand by his superiors.
“Their naivety in believing that Mr Beck had established a local specialist resource ‘on the cheap’ and without meeting any of the necessary criteria is astonishing, but is part and parcel of the shortcomings of (the department’s) care branch as a whole,” Mr Kirkwood says.
“Mr Beck’s treatment methods, the product of untutored and ill-digested study of therapeutic theories, were the antithesis of good child care and were fundamentally abusive.”
Mr Beck’s trial in 1991, which led to him being jailed for five life terms, heard how these methods sometimes involved so-called regression therapy.
Teenagers would be put in nappies, given babies’ bottles, placed in playpens and cuddled on the knees of staff in a purported attempt to take them back to their formative years.
Complaints by youngsters, parents, staff and outsiders about this, and about the abuse that went with it, went unheeded or were acted upon in a half-hearted fashion.
Mr Kirkwood says the management vacuum in the then social services care branch meant it operated in 1985 just as it had in 1975. Mr Beck had the misplaced confidence of Miss Edwards, under whom he was appointed, and was regarded as “an especially valuable resource”. “Added to all that, a forceful, manipulative and, at times, petulant personality and a ready facility for plausible self-justification made Mr Beck a man whom management officers were afraid to challenge.”
Under Mr Rice, who became director in 1980, the management drift worsened and he was ultimately asked to take early retirement in 1988.
When Mr Beck was finally obliged to resign in 1986, Mr Rice wrote a reference for him to get a post with a social work agency, describing his reliability and trustworthiness as “above questioning”. Mr Kirkwood says this was inexcusable: “Mr Rice must have been well aware of the circumstances.”
Relations between Mr Beck and John Cobb, his immediate superior for much of his time in Leicestershire, are encapsulated by evidence cited in the report: “When John Cobb walked into the room, Frank Beck was verbally aggressive to him and during the conversation used words to the effect of ‘if you can’t provide what I fucking want, you might as well fuck off’.”
Mr Cobb is one of 10 senior managers named as being responsible for the management vacuum and one of three still employed by the council.
The authority said yesterday their roles would be scrutinised Brian Waller, social services director since 1988, said: “If the evidence warrants it, we will dismiss members of our staff.”
The Leicestershire Inquiry 1992; Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8RL; 10 pounds.
February 9th, 1993
David Brindle, ‘BECK REPORT SEEKS WIDER POLICE ROLE’
POLICE should be given powers to tell employers about suspected child abusers even when an investigation produces no criminal charge, an inquiry into the police role in the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire children’s homes reported yesterday.
The inquiry found that police handling of complaints about Mr Beck during his 13-year career in Leicestershire was characterised by incompetence, negligence and prejudice against youngsters in care, compounded by lack of understanding of child abuse.
However, it concludes that the police must have greater recourse to warn employers of suspicions about staff who may be in contact with children. At present, when no charges are laid, police can merely say that an investigation has failed to produce sufficient evidence to warrant proceedings.
The recommendation, in an inquiry report by Chief Superintendent David Foster, of West Mercia police, and endorsed by the Police Complaints Authority, is likely to be criticised for giving too much discretion to the police about whom they choose to denigrate.
David Jones, general secretary of the British Association of Social Workers, said he would want to know more about the proposal. Although safety of children in care was paramount, civil rights of staff must be protected.
“I am sure that if there were suspicions about an individual, they would be passed verbally. The question here is of things being written down and recorded on people’s files when no prosecution is being brought,”he said.
The police inquiry report was published simultaneously with the findings of a 1.5 million pounds government inquiry, carried out by Andrew Kirkwood, QC, into how Leicestershire social services department failed to stop Mr Beck’s systematic abuse of youngsters in his care, for which he was jailed for five life terms in November 1991.
Mr Kirkwood found that senior managers proved unable to deal with Mr Beck. Tim Yeo, junior health minister responsible for social services, said the findings showed their “abysmal failure to conduct the most basic management scrutiny”.
It emerged yesterday that about 80 victims of the Beck regime are suing Leicestershire for damages and that 24 present social services staff have been investigated over complaints made since the trial.
Four of the 24 are suspended: one for alleged sexual abuse, two for alleged assaults and one for poor practice. Four face disciplinary action and another has been given a final warning.
Mr Beck, speaking from Gartree prison, last night said he was the victim of a “witch hunt”. He said: “I am not a bloody monster despite what they say. I have got feelings.”
February 9, 1993, Tuesday
Peter Oborne, ‘Probe on BBC interview with sex offender’
HOME SECRETARY Kenneth Clarke today ordered a high-level inquiry into how child sex offender Frank Beck got round prison rules to give an interview to BBC television news.
Home Office officials are livid about the interview, which was broadcast on prime-time TV and radio last night. They regard it as a blatant abuse of the spirit of prison regulations.
Mr Clarke has told deputy Peter Lloyd to urgently review the prison guidelines to prevent a similar incident happening.
At Westminster there was fury over the interview. Sir Ivan Lawrence, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said: ‘This looks to me like another abuse of media power.
‘It is thoroughly undesirable, and apparently in breach of the rules that sex offenders or convicted criminals should not be given the glory of publicity.’
The episode follows the interview with mass murderer Dennis Nilsen last month, broadcast by ITV despite a bid by the Home Office to block it.
Under prison rules Beck, who is serving five life sentences, would have been forbidden to speak to the BBC, but it got round the regulations by asking his solicitor to record an emotional telephone call he made from jail in Gartree Prison.
A Home Office spokeswoman stressed today that Beck was taking advantage of a concession to prisoners made in the wake of the Strangeways riots two years ago.
A commission concluded that the absence of family links played a large part in causing the riots and recommended the use of the Card phones abused by Beck.
Mr Lloyd threatened to take away that privilege, saying: ‘The use of card phones is a privilege and like all privileges they can be given and can be taken away.’
A spokesman for National Heritage Minister Peter Brooke said it was ‘a matter for the taste and judgment of the BBC’.
February 9th, 1993, Tuesday
Aubrey Chalmers, ‘The police just wouldn’t listen; TWO SCATHING REPORTS CONDEMN OFFICERS AND SOCIAL SERVICES STAFF OVER 10-YEAR REIGN OF TERROR IN THREE COUNCIL HOMES’
Child victims of sex abuser Frank Beck were dismissed as lying young criminal POLICE and social workers could and should have prevented Britain’s worst-ever case of child sex abuse, two damning reports said yesterday.
A disastrous mixture of incompetence, negligence and indifference allowed former Royal Marine Frank Beck to impose a ten-year reign of terror at three council children’s homes.
Police did not believe runaway youngsters who claimed they had been abused by Beck and other staff.
‘They looked on them as young criminals and some considered a beating was no more than summary justice,’ said a report from the Police Complaints Authority.
Children who sought sanctuary with the police were returned to face more assaults.
Social work chiefs carried out no inquiries of their own, despite increasing evidence of abuse.
They took the view that troublesome children were ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ said a QC called in by Leicestershire County Council.
Even after Beck, 50, resigned ‘under a cloud’ in 1986, social services director Brian Rice astonishingly wrote him a reference for a similar job.
Beck was finally brought to justice in 1991, convicted of 50 offences of sexual and physical assault against children in care and even some of his own staff. He was sentenced to life five times over.
The council now faces paying out £5million in compensation to 86 victims of Beck’s regime. His trial was told he could have preyed on as many as 200 highly-vulnerable children.
None of the police or social services staff blamed in the two reports has faced any sanctions, though three council employees are still under investigation.
The Police Complaints Authority report, by Chief Superintendent David Foster of West Mercia police, says: ‘It is more than a possibility that Beck’s criminal activities could have been exposed at an earlier date.’
Police investigated complaints in 1977, 1985 and 1986 which were stronger than the one received in 1989 which led to his trial.
The second report follows a six-month inquiry by Andrew Kirkwood, QC, into Leicestershire’s social services department.
It says senior officers abdicated their responsibility for running the three homes involved – The Beeches, The Poplars and Ratcliffe Road.
Though he was not properly qualified, Beck hoodwinked his bosses into thinking his ‘regression therapy’ was providing expert help on the cheap for troublesome youngsters.
Mr Kirkwood says: ‘Complaints came to the notice of the care branch from children, parents, foster parents, teachers, field social workers, students and residential care staff.
They were all potential ‘whistle blowers’, yet managers took no action.
‘Monitoring appeared to stop at the office door,’ said Mr Kirkwood. ‘There was a management vacuum within which abuse and bad practice could flourish.’
Beck’s willingness to take on the most difficult children, combined with his ‘forceful, manipulative and at times petulant personality’, made managers afraid to challenge him.
They made no attempt to discover how he was able to deal with children who had been too difficult for other social workers.
Mr Kirkwood says: ‘It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the relevant management officers took an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ atttitude.’
His most scathing criticism is of former social services director Brian Rice, now retired.
Mr Rice, director from 1980 to 1988, is branded a poor leader who had neither the skill nor the experience for the task.
He was ‘culpable’ for failing to put Beck’s name on a DHSS ‘blacklist’ of social workers after Beck left Leicestershire. He even provided him with a reference for another job.
‘That Mr Rice wrote the reference for Beck is inexcusable. He had access to Beck’s personal file. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Rice was other than grossly negligent,’ said Mr Kirkwood.
Lawyers for Mr Rice, 62, who was forced to take early retirement in 1988, said last night he bitterly regretted his action.
One of Beck’s victims, a 27-year-old man who was indecently assaulted when he was ten, said yesterday: ‘It is a scandal that the former director should get away scot free. Mr Rice did nothing.
‘Many people have been scarred for life by their experience. In my case it helped destroy my marriage.’
Leicestershire chief executive David Prince said: ‘The county council has no redress against people who have retired. They cannot have their pension taken away or reduced.’
The present social services director, Brian Waller, revealed that in the aftermath of the Beck case another 24 social workers are under investigation because of complaints. One is being seen by the police.
He said: ‘We are leaving nothing to chance. We need to restore the confidence of the public.
‘Some of the allegations may turn out to be groundless and some may require disciplinary action.’
Junior Health Minister Tim Yeo last night denied that the Government should carry any responsibility for the scandal.
Mr Yeo, who has special responsibility for residential homes, said there was not a paragraph in the Kirkwood report which suggested that any action by Ministers could have avoided the dreadful results of mismanagement and neglect by Leicestershire Council.
He rejected suggestions by Mr Waller that the Government should now monitor existing guidelines more strictly to ensure another Beck did not slip through the net.
Mr Yeo said: ‘I think it is pretty shoddy that Mr Waller should try to pass the blame on to the Government. As far as Beck is concerned the blame has to lie firmly with the local authority.’
He said the Government has already set up the Warner Committee of inquiry on the recruitment and selection of social workers.
‘We have accepted the recommendations that there should be better-trained and qualified staff,’ said Mr Yeo. ‘The only way to ensure that this appalling catalogue of abuse is not repeated is for local authorities themselves to be constantly vigilant.’
But Jim Harding, the NSPCC’s director of children’s services, said: ‘No matter how careful employers are, those who are determined to cruelly abuse will always find ways to gain access to children. We would urge the Government to review the resources of residential care, which is an expensive but vital service.
* Beck has lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence.
SOCIAL SERVICES Bosses ‘out of their depth’ did not control how centres were run THE ten social services executives named in the Kirkwood report are:
John Cobb, team manager responsible for Beck at The Beeches home, who admitted he could not manage him. ‘He was out of his depth,’ says the report. ‘Beck not only abused him verbally and publicly but did his best to bypass him.
‘The effectiveness of inspections of The Beeches by Mr Cobb is open to substantial doubt. No reports exist, even though they were made at the time. If he had studied the remarkably candid daily log he must surely have begun to appreciate the scale of violence.’
Mr Cobb, still employed by the council, is under investigation.
John Noblett, middle manager and qualified social worker, ‘failed to appreciate and address the problem of Mr Cobb being unable to manage Beck.
‘Mr Noblett was surely aware of heavy handedness towards children at The Beeches but did nothing. He was a poor, unenthusiastic and unimaginative investigator and must bear a heavy burden of responsibility.’
Mr Noblett has since left.
Peter Naylor, responsible for the care branch, suffered an ‘almost total loss of memory’ when he faced the inquiry. According to the report: ‘Notwithstanding the accumulation of complaints, Mr Naylor took no steps to introduce procedures for handling them. His failure to investigate a complaint of sexual assault in 1977 potentially had wide-ranging consequences.’
Mr Naylor has since left.
Michael Wells, an assistant social services director, overlooked a possible allegation of homosexuality when Beck applied to become a foster parent. Mr Wells, now deputy director, is under investigation.
Terence Nelson, senior assistant director, handled complaints which led to Beck’s resignation ‘under a cloud’ in 1986. The report attacks his ‘contorted reasoning’ in trying not to involve the police.
Mr Nelson has since left.
Terry Smith, former deputy director, received information that Beck may have made a homosexual approach to a former child care officer. He passed it on but might well have taken a more ‘positive response’ himself, the report says.
Mr Smith took early retirement in 1988.
Dorothy Edwards, director until she retired in 1980. ‘There is no doubt Miss Edwards was impressed by Beck and developed an unwarranted faith in his methods. She failed to recognise warning signs.’
Brian Rice, director from 1980 to 1988. His leadership was poor. ‘He had sufficient information available to him in March 1983 to require him to call for a thorough investigation of Beck.’
Mr Rice, now 62, was forced to take early retirement in 1988.
Ron Feeny, deputy county secretary, did not warn his superiors of ineffective management. He is currently under investigation.
Edward Ross, now dead, had management responsibilty for two homes. ‘There is evidence that he was not at all sure about Beck’s methods,’ the report says. ‘His management did not inform him of the details of care practices.’
COUNTY CONSTABULARY Taken back to face their tormentors
THE Police Complaints Authority looked at 29 cases where children who had run away from Beck’s homes later complained of sex abuse.
Their stories were greeted with almost total disbelief.
Officers ‘investigated’ only 15, and their inquiries involved little more than returning the children to the home and making them repeat their allegations to a social worker – often the one committing the abuse.
In eight cases, police interviewed the children but nothing was recorded as a crime complaint.
The report adds: ‘In three cases where reports were submitted the officers’ disbelief is so apparent it resulted in no action.’
Most officers thought the children were no more than criminals who habitually told lies.
All but two of the 29 had convictions ranging from theft and arson to prostitution and drugs.
Ten had been dealt with for more than 50 offences and four had 100 on their records.
Beck’s dominant character and reputation as a child care expert also allowed him to influence police officers.
After one complaint, in 1986, the investigating officer did not interview staff or children at the home and allowed himself to be talked out of seeing relevant social services papers.
The report describes his actions as ‘manifest incompetence’.
But it did not recommend disciplinary action because the social services had admitted they were less than frank with police unless pressed.
The two groups treated each other with suspicion and mistrust.
The authority stressed that none of the officers was involved in criminal misconduct.
Many have now retired and others who may be equally responsible cannot easily be identified.
The report recommends that police should be properly trained to interview abused children and all allegations should be recorded as a crime, irrespective of the youngsters’ background.
No child should be taken back to a home or made to repeat comments to a social worker there.
Last night Leicestershire’s acting chief constable, Tony Butler, said police practices have now been changed.
February 9th, 1993
Tim Jotischky, ‘Outrage at BBC phone talk with a sex beast’
THE BBC was under fire last night after broadcasting an interview with child sex abuser Frank Beck.
Home Office officials said permission would have been refused if they had known about it.
But the BBC got round the rules by getting Beck’s solicitor to record a telephone call he made from jail where he is serving five life sentences.
Then they broadcast it on radio and TV bulletins, including last night’s Nine O’Clock News.
The new row follows soon after controversy surrounding the broadcast of an interview with mass murderer Dennis Nilsen.
That was screened by ITV last month after the courts overruled Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s application to block it.
This time the decision to broadcast was made by the BBC’s controller of editorial policy, John Wilson.
Last night the Home office said it had reported the matter to the governor of Gartree Prison, Leicestershire, where Beck is being held.
There will be an investigation into a possible breach of prison rules. They state that a prisoner’s legal adviser is allowed to use a cassette recorder to interview an inmate providing he gives a written undertaking to use it only in connection with the proceedings or specific legal business.
The telephone interview was carried out after Beck exercised his right to phone his solicitor from prison, using a phone card he had bought with his own money.
In it, his voice breaking with emotion, Beck protested his innocence. He said: ‘I can only hang on for so long.’ Then he sobbed: ‘They keep on saying the same thing. You can’t keep it up, someone has got to listen. I have got feelings.’
A Home Office spokesman said it was a matter of interpretation whether the rules were intended to cover cell visits only or included taped phone calls.
Last night Sir Teddy Taylor, vice-chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, vowed to raise the issue with the Home Secretary next week.
He said: ‘It’s deplorable. The last thing we need in Britain is for people like Frank Beck to be glamorised in this way.
‘Such interviews with prisoners should never be broadcast. By giving them access to broadcasting facilities you give them a kind of glamour.’
Local Government Chronicle (LGC)
February 10th, 1993
‘LEICESTERSHIRE SEX ABUSE CLAIMS THREATENED BY TIME RULING’
HIGHLIGHT: Up to three quarters of the court actions against Leicestershire CC arising from the conviction of the disgraced so…
Up to three quarters of the court actions against Leicestershire CC arising from the conviction of the disgraced social worker Frank Beck could be ruled out of time, the Independent reports (p5).Over 80 former residents of the county’s children’s homes hope to bring actions against the council. But following the Lords ruling in the case of Lesley Stubbings, a 36 year old who had been abused between the ages of two and 14, many of the complaints may be ruled out of time.
February 10th, 1993
Marianne Macdonald, ‘Time ruling threatens actions over sex abuse’
UP TO three-quarters of the complainants alleging sexual abuse by Frank Beck the former Leicestershire social worker may be disqualified from damages actions by a Law Lords’ ruling.
About 86 hope to bring actions against Leicestershire County Council, which employed Beck – who was given to five life sentences for child sexual abuse in 1991 – and other staff from the county’s children’s homes. Damages and costs against the council could reach pounds 5m.
But a ruling in December could affect many of the actions. It was made by five Law Lords who decided that Lesley Stubbings, 36, of Wivenhoe, Essex, could not claim damages for alleged sexual abuse by her adoptive father between the age of 2 and 14, and alleged rape by her adoptive brother when she was 12, because she was outside the legal time limits.
The 1980 Limitation Act requires damages claims for personal injury, for rape and indecent assault to be brought within six years of the incident, or within six years of reaching 18.
The Law Lords’ decision set a precedent for such actions, reversing earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that Ms Stubbings’ action was not time-barred. Some complainants in the Beck case fear they may be disqualified as a result.
Brian Dodds, the liaising solicitor for the complainants, said: ”The ruling in the Stubbings case may or may not apply to us. If it is found the six-year limit applies it would affect a very large chunk of our people. About 75 per cent are over 24. We are looking very closely at the ruling. If necessary we will go to the European courts, although it would add 2 to 10 years to the claims.”
Ms Stubbings’ solicitor, Tony Fisher, may take her claim to the European Court of Human Rights. ”I believe the ruling in my client’s case effectively means the victims in the Frank Beck case have been left without any remedy,” he said.
”In other parts of the world, such as Canada and several US states, they have changed the limitation laws to give a more flexible limit to cases involving sexual abuse. Their only hope for compensation is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which in special cases allows sexual abuse claims to be pursued outside the limitation period.”
A board spokesman said there was a three-year limit for claims but it could be waived. ”The board’s discretion is by and large sympathetic where no claim was made on the complainant’s behalf at the time, or where they were subsequently unable to claim,” he added.
Browne Jacobson, the solicitors’ firm acting for MMI insurers which provides cover for Leicestershire County Council, declined to comment.
February 10th, 1993
David Sharrock, ‘INQUIRY INTO JAIL PHONE CALLS’
THE Home Office yesterday launched an inquiry into prisoners’ rights to make telephone calls, following the broadcast of interviews with the child sex offender Frank Beck and the serial murderer Dennis Nilsen.
Peter Lloyd, the Home Office Minister of State, was “looking into this whole area,” a spokswoman said yesterday.
Under present rules, prisoners are allowed to buy phonecards to call members of their families or close friends.
“There have been a number of abuses of phonecards and there have also been a number of cases where interviews have been conducted without Home Office permission.
“We help wherever possible with interviews with prisoners, for example, for documentaries about how prisoners are coping with their sentences. The idea is not to sensationalise or to glamorise particular offenders, which may give offence to the victims or their families.”
Asked if there would in future be tighter restrictions on use of phonecards, a spokesman said: ” I wouldn’t like to be drawn on that.”
On Monday evening, the BBC broadcast an interview with Frank Beck from Gartree Prison in response to two reports into Leicestershire county council’s social services department. The interview was conducted by his solicitor, thus bypassing Home Office regulations.
Two weeks ago Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, failed to secure an injunction blocking the broadcast of an interview with Mr Nilsen in a TV documentary. The Home Office is taking legal action against Central TV for breach of contract and copyright.
February 11th, 1993
Ruth Wishart, ‘Stuck in the middle; When Child Sexual Abuse Scandals Like The Frank Beck Affair Are Uncovered, Social Workers Are Blamed For Doing Too Little, Too Late. When They Do Act, They Are Often Attacked For Being Too Hasty And Intrusive. What Exactly Does Society Want From The Social Services? And What Effect Does The Current Ambivalence Have On The Ultimate “Client” The Child? Ruth Wishart Examines The Dilemma’
‘PEOPLE,” says Ian Gilmour, “do dreadful things to their children.”
And when they do in Strathclyde Region this Depute Director of Social Work knows that the buck stops on his desk.
His staff are charged with every aspect of child care from adoption and fostering to dealing with all manner of child abuse.
The problems they face stem not just from the extent of the need but from the public’s perception of their role.
Often the reason people will call the RSSPCC rather than the Social Work Department is because of an entrenched suspicion that the latter will take the kids away first and ask questions later.
In fact, says Gilmour, the Place of Safety Order is a last resort, granted under stringent procedures, and valid for just a week without a case for extension being made and having to be reprocessed.
But the difficulty all social workers face, particularly in the ultrasensitive field of child abuse, is that society is more than a little ambivalent about what it wants from them.
When tragedy strikes in cases like Jasmine Beckford in 1985, Kimberly Carlile in 1987 and the uncovered abuse of men like Frank Beck, the subject of this week’s report, the criticism is that the social services did too little too late.
When the focus is shifted to different kinds of parental concern such as the removal and examination of children in Cleveland, the judgment is that the workers were too hasty and too intrusive.
Small wonder then, that social work has become one of the more demoralised professions in a world of mounting social problems.
Yet as Louis Blom Cooper QC said in the Kimberly Carlile report: “Those who undermine the confidence and morale of the people society is sending out in its name to protect children, should realise that they are unwittingly putting children at risk.”
But in the midst of slender resources, widespread suspicion, and occasional disaster, some very important work is being done in trying to deal with the quite frightening level of child abuse which has been uncovered since the topic has been forced from the closet over the last 15 years.
Ironically, one of the resources which has done the most intensive work in Scotland over the last half dozen years has just become a funding casualty.
The Overnewton centre in Glasgow closed this month when two of its four funding bodies, Strathclyde Region and the Scottish Office, withdrew their support.
Run by the RSSPCC, Overnewton is thought by many to have died in the wake of inter agency difficulties in the Orkney aftermath, rather than because of a simple failure of the various sums to add up.
But its legacy lives on in the pages of its last published review of practice covering 1987 to 1991.
Because of its remit in dealing with whole families where sexual abuse had occurred, the centre had to provide a rounded social service which included working with the non abusing parent, almost always the mother, working with the victim or victims, and working with the perpetrator.
Overwhelmingly child sexual abuse (around 97 per cent) is perpetrated by men against girls and boys.
Which isn’t to say that some mothers fail to protect their children or that a large number of them may neglect their kids or physically assault them.
But the work done by Overnewton and similar agencies in the UK suggests that child sexual abuse is not the result of families living in circumstances where relationships are chaotic.
As their report states quite baldly: “The abuser is solely responsible for the abuse. Work with abusers can only be effectively carried out within the criminal justice system.”
Yet having made that point they go on to assert that if we are serious about protecting children the problem isn’t resolved by imprisonment.
“Abusers require to be confronted with their abuse and an assessment made of their potential to control their behaviour and change their attitudes.”
The centre’s view is that some social workers, children’s panels and courts underestimate the addictive nature of the offence, the level of risk, and the likelihood of reoffending.
That conclusion is echoed by a team of workers in the same field in Rochdale who also suggest that sex offenders “abuse large numbers of children throughout their lives”, and that “this is an addictive cycle of deviant and compulsive behaviour.”
Both sets of workers reckon treatment can control but not cure and that there is still “a lifelong risk.”
Of necessity that treatment is likely to involve two years of working with men who will typically deny their abuse at first, and later deny the ill effects on their victims The issues of sexuality, control, abuse of power, and betrayal of trust are not easy for the workers to deal with either, and those involved over a long period rely on team work and contact with other professionals and agencies to minimise their own personal stress.
Another problem is sheer lack of numbers.
Everyone agrees that the ideal is for all members of the family, who may ultimately be involved in group counselling, to be dealt with initially by their own case worker.
That rarely proves practicable.
Yet as one senior social worker in an RSSPCC resource centre put it: “You get to the stage where you begin to wonder who the client is. You’re trying to work with the victim, but the mother needs help and support too. You get pulled in all directions, and the fact that both mother and child know you are talking to the other doesn’t always help.”
The role of the mother in all of this is both crucial to the long term welfare of the child, and much misunderstood.
In most cases, according to Overnewton, she will have to protect the child in the long term, “and victims who have the complete support of the non abusing parent will have a far greater chance of successfully recovering.”
Nevertheless “at the very time when a mother is in a crisis and faced with overwhelming loss she is most needed by her child.”
Facing up to her partner’s behaviour, losing that relationship, and suddenly having to care alone for her family is described by some workers as similar to a bereavement.
Neither does working with families in trouble conform neatly to social work guidelines.
You may want the child to have minimal disturbance by staying in the same neighbourhood and going to the same school, but their schoolmates and the mother’s neighbours may make that intolerable.
So the worker spends most of the time trying to fix entirely practical housing financial and care problems.
Or, as the jargon has it: “working therapeutically in the midst of chaos.”
Brian, working in a Scottish housing estate with a high reported incidence of child abuse, uses part of a family centre which hosts a whole range of other activities for his base, which he shares with a colleague.
The room he uses for interviews looks as much as possible like an average living room.
His clients often come from backgrounds where not just a parent, but the older children abuse younger ones.
Involving brothers and sisters, after all, is a useful way of the main abuser extending control and ensuring their complicity and silence.
Brian tells you of boys as young as eight caught trying to assault their schoolmates, of little girls exposed so often to sexual practices that when confronted with a male social worker they try and clamber on his knee.
Of families where the children regularly witness casual and promiscuous sex.
One of his lads, put into foster care, insisted on using the lewdest possible language in his new home, and masturbated at his foster mother’s living room window.
Given the emotional carnage all that implies, you ask him how he can continue to work with the perpetrators and not get angry.
“You can’t. I do get angry. What I don’t get is aggressive. Not even when some of the things they tell me might make me want to shake them by the throat.”
Or, as the Overnewton report starkly has it: “In working with child abuse there is no avoiding the pain.”
Nor is there any avoidance of the central dilemma of protecting children from abusing parents, while still giving a service to families and respecting parental rights.
So desperately delicate is the subject, and so lurid has been some of the coverage, that many loving parents are actually frightened to give their children physical affection for fear it is misconstrued.
As the Rochdale team grimly noted, getting the balance between children’s needs and parents’ rights is “a minefield.”
But they add they are clear “that the real consumer is the child, and that parental rights are not absolute rights but duty rights which are to be exercised in the interests of children.”
Many small, bewildered, abused and desperately unhappy clients of all the child protection services would say amen to that.
February 11th, 1993
Ken Hyder, ‘RUNAWAY CHECKS COULD STOP ABUSE’
THE Government has been accused of ignoring a possible new early warning system for identifying sexual abuse in children’s homes.
Despite massive public concern arising out of the case of Frank Beck, who abused children physically and sexually over 13 years, Government departments have failed to act on recommendations which could bring such abuses to light much earlier.
The accusation comes from Barrie Irving, director of the Police Foundation which last year published a report on runaway children jointly with the National Children’s Home and the Metropolitan Police.
The research showed that examining where children ran away from showed patterns that gave cause for concern.
Mr Irving said: ‘It became apparent that children were running away from some homes at a higher rate than from other homes.
‘While there will always be a number of children running away from residential care, when the numbers from one individual home are particularly high it becomes a signal that this home should come under scrutiny.’
He said that children beaten and abused while in the care of Frank Beck often ran away.
But that case showed that children were disbelieved when they made complaints.
Mr Irving believes that nationally collated statistics on runaways would single out children’s homes where something was going wrong.
He added: ‘One advantage would be that the monitoring would be external. It would be difficult for homes or individual departments to cover up this information.
‘We approached both the Department of Health and the Home Office with this report and this specific recommendation. But both departments have failed so far to act.’
Another recommendation for a pilot scheme to identify problems was also turned down.
The suggestion was that runaway children should be given a follow-up interview in which reasons for running away would be examined.
The report estimated that around 43,000 young people run away each year. While fewer than one per cent of children are in care, they made up 30 per cent of runaways.
At the home with the highest number of incidents, which had 70 places, 64 children ran away in a year, a total of 565 times.
The report said: ‘There is little effective joint working between social services and the police. In most areas no agency has an overview of the runaway problem because records are not maintained.
‘No one in authority may appreciate that a single care establishment has a worryingly high volume of runaway incidents.
‘The study findings show that the residential care sector makes a substantial contribution to the runaway problem, yet in most areas little appears to have been done to find out why this should be, and to seek solutions.’
Caroline Abrahams, one of the report’s authors, said: ‘It’s worrying and disappointing that, with the concern about abuse in homes, these recommendations are not being acted on.
‘We can’t afford to be complacent about abuse in care and the links with running away.’
The Health Department received the recommendations last March but a spokesman denied that they were being ignored.
He said: ‘We are in consultation with the Home Office and the Association of Directors of Social Services on these proposals.
‘It may be taking some time, but it is important to get it right and take social services departments with us.’
February 11th, 1993
Keith Waterhouse, ‘The welfare of whelks; IS NO ONE EVER SACKED FOR BEING OTHER-ABLED IN THE FIELD OF BRAINPOWER?’
POLITICIANS are fond of saying of this or that opponent that they could not run a whelk stall. I have always thought this unfair to whelk stall owners.
It is a tricky business, selling whelks. You have to be able to tell the difference between a bad whelk and a good one. You have to know how many pints of whelks you can sell in a day. You have to master the European Community regulations on the care and maintenance of marine gastropod molluscs.
Nevertheless, if ten executives were to be put in charge of a whelk stall, and they were to display the following characteristics, would you not be slightly put off eating shellfish?
One of them shows ‘poor leadership’. Another is ‘unenthusiastic and unimaginative’. A third is ‘out of his depth’. A fourth ‘did not warn his superiors of ineffective management’. A fifth ‘failed to recognise warning signs’. And so on, through the whole sorry bunch.
This wrecking crew were not, of course, in charge of anything so important as a whelk stall. They were in charge of children’s homes. Thanks to their incompetence and inertia the vicious Frank Beck was able to terrorise children in three Leicestershire council homes for ten long years.
We are assured that it could never happen again. We would be, wouldn’t we? In a rare turn of phrase the director of Leicestershire social services says: ‘No stone will be left unturned.’ What does he intend to do with these upturned stones? Throw them at somebody, I hope.
But the promises of social services chiefs that from now on it is all going to be different remind me of the pledges of drunks that starting tomorrow they will never touch another drop. Few things in this life are certain but of one we may be sure. There will be another major scandal involving children and the social services before the year is out. Perhaps even, given their track record, before the month is out.
At least on this occasion no one has had the gall to put the failure of the system down to ‘lack of resources’. Or if they have, I have missed it. Yet, in a way, lack of resources was what this case was all about – lack of intelligence, lack of initiative, lack of imagination. Lack of the human resources that should be part and parcel of the job.
We have report after report after report on the damage done to children by the very people who are there to protect them, either by neglect, misjudgment, apathy or misplaced zeal. And in every single case, ranging from the solitary battered child whose scream went unheeded to the entire community absurdly accused of satanic sex abuse, there is one constant factor. Incompetence.
WHY are Dave and Roz so daft? That they are is incontestable. A Government inquiry into their daftness – although the preferred phrase is ‘the recruitment and selection of social workers’ – is even now under way. And it is not only Dave and Roz themselves who are daft. They move in a whole aura of daftness. The Kirkwood report on the Frank Beck scandal – the ninth in eight years on the disturbing way children’s homes are run, by the way – saves its most scathing criticism for ‘the grossly negligent’ Brian Rice – ‘a poor leader who has neither the skill nor the experience for the task’. Mr Rice was the county social services director for eight years.
How do these goons get the work – and having got it, how do they manage to keep it? We know the social services are featherbedded but is no candidate ever turned down for having nothing between the ears? Is no one ever sacked or demoted for being other-abled in the field of brainpower?
There have been almost as many reports on the social services as the social services themselves have provoked. There have been many recommendations on the training of social workers but none properly addressing the quality of the material that is being trained in the first place, or how it is possible to rise to the top of this profession with ‘neither the skill nor the experience for the task’.
And they’re left in charge of children. If children were whelks, and under the care of a whelk stall owner, they would get a better deal.
Not my cuppa
February 12th, 1993
Ludovic Kennedy, ‘WHY THIS TV TITILLATION MUST STOP; WITH CHANNEL 4’s NAKED CHAT SHOW ABOUT TO GO ON AIR, ONE OF OUR TOP BROADCASTERS LAMENTS THE CULTURAL VOID BENEATH THE VULGARARITY’
WHEN you get to my age, there’s a tendency to think that all social change is for the worst, that things were much better yesterday.
To criticise is to risk being called a fuddy-duddy. So for some time now, I have tried to ignore the current sickness in our once great broadcasting industry and tell myself that if that is what the young want, that is what the young should have, and who are the geriatric brigade to stop them?
But is this endless diet of sex, and a sick sort of sex at that, really what the young want? I have talked to many 20, 30 and 40 year olds, including my own children, and they seem to be as depressed about the present trend as I am.
Nothing, it seems, is too crass nowadays. I see that Chennel 4 is planning a new series called Come On Down And Out, a thoroughly sick and nasty game show which will exploit some of the most unfortunate people in our society. Researchers are already scouring the country for contestants among the poor and homeless with the promise that if they win, they’ll receive ‘a brand new luxury home’.
Not so long ago I saw a television programme in which a group of exceptionally unattractive women gave themselves (but who else?) a good time by fitting condoms on to plastic penises with their mouths. If there was any adverse comment on this, I missed it.
Then at midnight this Saturday, Channel 4 is going to give us something called The Naked Chat Show in which guests and some of the audience will be stark naked, although the deputy director of programmes there has assured us that ‘no one will be waving their genitalia in the air’. Well, I should hope not. But what on earth is the point of it? To inform? To entertain? Or just to shock, and thereby up the ratings?
And that’s not all by way of Channel 4’s contribution to St Valentine’s Day, a day if ever there was one for celebrating love – not lust. Yet, of lust there will be plenty: an ‘educational’ film called Get A Grip On Sex (spot the innuendo there, did you?), a sex quiz programme called Carnal Knowledge, another programme on bondage and sado-masochism and an Australian documentary on orgies and sex cults.
So as not to be left behind by the Joneses, BBC radio is getting in on the act, too. In a two-hour special, a lesbian cabaret artiste called Maria Esposito (Italian for ‘exposure’) will be giving us her act from a gay nightclub in Blackpool.
There is to be a travel report for ‘hiking dykes’ while the usually stolid Woman’s Hour will be providing a list of ten lesbian novels, excerpts from which (presumably the jucier parts) may be read out.
Who are all these programmes for? Homosexuals? Well, they know it all already. Certainly not the old like me. The young then? But from talking to them, I gain the impression that they consider voyeurism a poor substitute for getting out and about and doing their own thing.
I also worry who the broadcasters are aiming at with their current vogue for the reminiscences of long-serving criminal perverts. Recently Central Television broadcast a ‘How I did it’ monologue by the infamous Dennis Nilsen, now serving a life sentence for murdering more than a dozen unfortunate young men.
The fact that there was no attempt to sensationalise it somehow made it much worse, as though this was just part of routine viewing. And for all the pre-transmission hype to increase the ratings, the programme would have lost nothing by excluding it.
And now only this week on BBC television and radio news we had to hear the voice of that disgusting pederast Frank Beck who betrayed his trust as warden of children’s homes in Leicestershire by abusing more than 50 over a period of 13 years.
This was part of a conversation between Beck and his solicitor, and should never have been broadcast. As with Nilsen, what he said gave no insight into his character or motivation. So is this the start of a new trend, a programme called, perhaps, Convicts Confidential in which kinky prisoners tell their macabre tales for the benefit of kinky viewers?
I am not a prig. Mrs Patrick Campbell once said: ‘I don’t mind what people do so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.’ I am in favour of freedom of information, too, and wish there was an Act of Parliament to sanctify it. But all this seems to me to be an abuse of freedom of information. I ask myself, as others must, why this cancerous spread of nihilism, and exactly where is it leading us?
Today, posh hotels now provide soft-porn films (i.e. everything except below the belt) for ‘adult’ viewing, while the sex scenes in feature films are every year becoming more explicit. The way things are going, it won’t be long before, at the touch of a button, we shall find ourselves gawping at scenes of perversion and sodomy on the hour, every hour.
Those who want to look at these things have to take the initiative to do so. If that is what they really want, good luck to them. But in the media of radio and televison, you don’t need to take much initiative. Both sound and vision are beamed directly into our homes. And the decline of standards there, both in content and style, increasingly disturbs me.
As if to confirm this trend, a new book has just come out called Hollywood vs Hollywood. In my youth Hollywood peddled a dreamworld whose fantasies gave enormous pleasure to the drab lives of millions. But today’s Hollywood, writes Michael Medved, is more of a poison factory than a dream factory, full of violence and horror.
I believe it is all part of the same process: a growing tendency for some broadcasters to despise the ordinary concerns of ordinary citizens, a tendency in which nothing has value unless it shocks, challenges, undermines or even insults the standards with which we’ve grown up.
You can see this in the growing tendency of presenters to pull faces and cavort about, with the sort of jokey facetiousness is increasingly seen in breakfast programmes.
It is as though we – and by we I mean the Western world – have run out of creative ideas and no longer attach importance to the values on which our civilisation was founded. Why that is, I wish I knew; but it could be that, as the poet Wordsworth said: ‘The World is too much with us; late and soon,/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers . . .’
He could have been talking about today. Through satellite, radio and television links we witness the world’s upheavals almost in the act of their happening. The media feeds us with a daily diet of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the worldwide spread of AIDS, the destruction of the rainforests, the damage to the ozone layer, uncontrolled pollution, economic recession.
Have we come to a stage in our evolution when, considering all these things, we feel we can no longer control them? Are we starting to give up any hope for the future? I hope not, but I am beginning to think so.
February 13th, 1993
Eleanor Hadley, ‘LETTER: RAPE: WHEN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM LACKS CONVICTION’
WHO do you report to when the rapists are police? PC Eileen Waters has alleged she was raped by a colleague, yet nothing was ever done, and an independent survey confirms that rape and sexual assault is “rife in the police” (Guardian, February 11).
The police inquiry into the Leicestershire police response to the case of Frank Beck (Guardian, February 9), the social worker who raped and abused children in care, documents “prejudice, incompetence and negligence” by the police which resulted in young people’s accusations against Beck being dismissed for years.
Our experience during 16 years of campaigning and providing resources and services, is that women and girls regularly experience disbelief, hostility, intimidation, racism, sexism and worse when they go to report rape, sexual assault and/or domestic violence. No wonder then, that our 1985 Ask Any Woman survey found that only one in 12 women who are raped actually report to the police.
Every time police illegality or negligence is exposed in one area, it is disconnected from every other area. So that confessions extracted under duress, evidence which is fabricated, women being bullied, Black people being targeted for arrest, prioritising the policing of consensual sex over rape, are all seen as isolated examples of “human error”. How come the criminal justice system does not treat their wrongdoings in the same way as other “human errors”? And does this mean – as it seems to – that in reporting crime, you may be reporting to criminals?
When a woman is deciding whether to go to the police, all of these factors inevitably enter into her consideration. Given this context, special rape suites painted pink are at best cosmetic, at worst a cover-up.
Policemen who rape or sexually assault fellow officers, and those who encourage and condone them, are guilty of criminal activities. We are waiting for their arrest, their convictions and their being put away.
Women Against Rape,
71 Tonbridge Street,
February 18th, 1993
Roger Singleton, ‘Lessons of abuse’
From Mr Roger Singleton
Sir, Your leader of February 9 on residential child care, ”The lessons of abuse”, calls for greater professional training of residential staff. But that in itself will not prevent abuse.
Frank Beck, the Leicestershire care worker sentenced in 1989 for abusing up to 200 children, possessed the right pieces of paper. So did Tony Latham, creator of the infamous ”Pindown” regime in Staffordshire. What these men lacked was effective management.
Children’s homes need competent, caring and resilient people to staff them. They also need stringent recruitment policies and a commitment to boost morale among the current workforce by providing encouragement and improving salaries.
But, perhaps most important of all, they need confident and rigorous management from the outside, by people who will challenge dubious practices, hold staff to account, listen to children’s complaints and take them seriously.
Tanners Lane, Barkingside,
Local Government Chronicle (LGC)
February 19th, 1993
‘LEICESTERSHIRE TO CONSIDER KIRKWOOD REPORT ON ABUSE’
HIGHLIGHT: A special meeting of Leicestershire CC will be held on 24 February to consider a report by director of social servi…
A special meeting of Leicestershire CC will be held on 24 February to consider a report by director of social services Brian Waller on the recently published findings the inquiry by Andrew Kirkwood QC.The Kirkwood inquiry was set up after the conviction in 1991 of former county children’s home manager Frank Beck and two other former staff on multiple counts of abuse.Mr Waller’s report identifies the main issues arising from the Kirkwood inquiry and makes detailed proposals for further action by Leicestershire to improve the care provided in the county’s nine children’s homes.Mr Waller said: ‘The distressing events in Leicestershire between 1973 and 1986 make for very sobering reading in showing how inadequate management can lead to appalling consequences for people who should have been protected and properly cared for.’Almost all of the issues raised in the Kirkwood report have been subject to significant improvement since the time of Frank Beck’s employment with Leicestershire’.But he said: ‘The department cannot be complacent. Work still remains to be done’.
Local Government Chronicle (LGC)
March 9th, 1993
‘LEICESTERSHIRE ABUSE DAMAGES EXPECTED TO REACH £1 MILLION’
HIGHLIGHT: Damages against Leicestershire CC by the victims of abuse by former children’s homes manager Frank Beck are expecte…
Damages against Leicestershire CC by the victims of abuse by former children’s homes manager Frank Beck are expected to reach at least £1 million, the Independent reports (p1).The claims for compensation by 86 abuse victims will be strengthened by two reports published yesterday detailing incompetence and mismanagement by social services staff and police officers.But despite scathing criticism of the inaction and mishandling of a succession of complaints by the constabulary and the county, no police officer or Leicestershire employee has yet been dismissed or faced disciplinary proceedings, the paper says.Brian Dodds, the liaising solicitor for the 86 complainants who allege abuse by Beck and other staff, welcomed the report into the homes’ management by Archie Kirkwood QC.’It will be extremely useful. It can only reinforce the claims being made and will very significantly increase the damages because of the aggravating feature of negligence it highlights’, Mr Dodds said.He said many complainants would receive relatively small amounts, but at least 10 were likely to win £70,000-£100,000 in damages.The second report, whose publication coincided with the Kirkwood report, was conducted by West Mercia Chief Superintendent David Foster into the conduct of Leicestershire Police. It uncovered a catalogue of errors by investigating officers, the Independent says.In a separate report (p5), the paper says junior Health minister Tim Yeo promised to give a higher status to residential child care so that suitable, better qualified people are attracted to the job.Welcoming the Kirkwood report, Mr Yeo said: ‘We have accepted recommendations for better qualified people to run children’s homes.
It will be harder for others to follow the likes of Frank Beck: we have tightened the legislation considerably with the Children Act.’But in the end it does depend on constant vigilance in the way staff are selected and recruited and the way complaints for children are handled’.Endorsing Mr Yeo’s comments, Leicestershire Social Services Director Brian Waller said: ‘Residential care has been a Cinderella service for more than two decades. It has become a backwater which is used as a last resort when everything else fails’.Homes had been staffed by people who were unqualified, lowly paid and badly managed, Mr Waller said.Chief executive David Prince said the council had embarked on a programme to improve child care through enhancing the status of social workers and attracting high calibre staff.Calls for a social services council to prevent paedophiles ‘playing the system’ were repeated by the National Institute for Social Work. Such a body would stem similar abuses by issuing licences for all social workers, including residential care staff, and would provide an independent avenue of complaint.News and further in depth pieces on the two Beck reports are carried by all the other broadsheets.
March 11th, 1993
‘SOCIAL STAFF REPRIEVE’
No disciplinary action is to be taken against 16 of the 29 Leicestershire social services staff under investigation after the Frank Beck child abuse scandal, including Michael Wells, the deputy director. Seven will face action and six cases remain under scrutiny.
March 25th, 1993
Edward Fennell, ‘Shopping for social services’
The new ”community care” approach to social services being introduced this spring will pose one of the biggest tests yet of the government’s policy on the welfare state.
In the public mind at least, social service management is scarcely regarded as a model of efficiency. How well will it respond to the creation of a market of purchasers and providers?
Although community care has some enthusiastic supporters, the cynical view is that many authorities will pay little more than lip service to the new approach by setting up merely a cosmetic operation to satisfy the government’s minimum requirements.
”If you have taken community care seriously then it involves a complete change in the landscape of care,” says David Townsend, director of social services for Croydon. ”We are cautiously optimistic we can handle the new system well because we are adequately resourced and ahead with our preparations. But the national scene is going to be very patchy.”
Given the repeated scandals and failures among local authority social service departments, however, there must be concern that any new system risks going off at half-cock.
”It’s really going to be a matter of social service departments experimenting as they go,” says Henri Giller, of the consultancy Social Information Systems. ”New managerial structures have been put in place but the real question is whether they are going to be strong enough to work.”
With more than 100 social service departments involved in the reforms, the exact pace and extent of change has been left largely to be decided at local level. ”The resulting diversity is likely to be particularly confusing when it comes, for example, to hospital discharge procedures,” says Mr Giller. With different liaison arrangements operating, compounded by reforms in the National Health Service, the handover relationship from medical to social service care will tax the management system severely.
If community care is going to work, however, the most critical area in the long run will be operation of the inspection units. Particularly sensitive to this is Brian Waller, head of Leicestershire social services, where for years there was a failure to respond to complaints that a residential manager, Frank Beck, was involved in child abuse.
Mr Waller says: ”Mindful of what has happened in the past, there is now a robust audit and inspection procedure with quality right at the top of the department’s list of priorities.”
Backing up inspection will be the new complaints procedure. In Leicestershire this is already working smoothly, Mr Waller claims. ”Real safeguards now exist. There is a quite explicit system available which I am absolutely confident will work.”
Underlying all these changes, however, is the urgent need to ensure that the government gets more (and better) care for its money. Philosophically this has heightened the need for social workers to be careful allocators of resources. But the question facing management is obviously whether their pursuit of ”business effectiveness” will be compatible with their need to assure quality of care provided to their ”clients”.
With money seen as the essential lubricant keeping the system going, it may well be that managerial skills will come to be viewed as more important than social service experience in making the system work effectively. Croydon’s Mr Townsend already foresees that in a few years a new breed of professional manager may emerge to take on the job of buying care from the private sector.
”They would probably need to be people with a public sector background but it seems to me that NHS managers, civil servants, or people from other parts of the local authority network could come in and take over this job,” Mr Townsend says.
Not everyone would agree with such a prescription, but the likelihood is that over the next few years we will see an immense variety of managerial approaches. Woe betide the first authority, however, where clients die, or suffer abuse or neglect, from a private care provider. The hapless director of social services had better have a pretty good excuse ready.
October 11th, 1993
Linda Jackson, ‘COUNCIL DENIES DEBT TO CHILD SEX ABUSE VICTIMS’
BYLINE: Linda Jackson, Press Association Social Affairs Correspondent
Leicestershire County Council is denying responsibility for one of the victims of child sex abuser Frank Beck, it emerged today. The council has gone to court to test a legal ruling that places a time limit on paying compensation. Jenny Lesiakowski, who was raped and buggered by Beck while in care, was offered £50,000 compensataion by the council, plus £8,000 towards therapy. She turned down the money, believing she could get more if she sued the council for damages. However, since the offer was made, the House of Lords ruled that child victims of abuse must claim compensation by the age of 24 – a ruling which has pushed Jenny over the time limit. This means the council does not have to pay compensation. And they are now denying responsibility in a test of the ruling which could have implications for Beck’s other victims. As head of three Leicestershire children’s homes between 1973 and 1986, Beck sexually and physically assaulted up to 100 children in his care. In 1991, he received five life sentences for his reign of terror. Two were for rape and buggery against Jenny, who has agreed to be identified. In an interview for the BBC 1 Watchdog programme, to be screened tonight Jenny tells how she was offered the money and attacks the council’s handling of her case. “Social services offered me £50,000 with the condition that there was no more publicity, interviews, or anything,” she said. “I was taken out of their books as if I never existed. I was another problem off their hands.” In a statement to the Press Association, the council points out that its insurers – Municipal Mutual – will settle claims for which the council is liable. “It is therefore essential that the civil litigation action establishes whether the council has any legal liability to make such payments. “If that is established the insurers will pay any damages that may be awarded. If that is not established, the insurers will cease to have conduct of the matters and will pass the relevant papers back to the county council, which will then look at the circumstances of each claim and decide whether any payment can be made.” The council said it stood by previous statements that victims’ civil claims would be dealt with as “sympathetically as possible”.
October 11th, 1993
David Brindle, ‘BECK VICTIMS ACCUSE COUNCIL OF EVASION’
VICTIMS of child abuser Frank Beck will have compensation claims dealt with “as sympathetically as possible”, Leicestershire county council reaffirmed yesterday in the face of allegations that it is evading responsibility.
A BBC television programme tonight will claim the council is denying it had a duty of care for some of those who say they were abused under the Beck regime in its children’s homes.
Mr Beck is serving five life sentences for offences against youngsters in the homes he ran between 1973 and 1986. About 86 people who say they were abused by him or other staff are seeking compensation along the lines of money paid to victims of the “pin down” regime in Staffordshire.
One victim, Jenny Lesiakowski, who has agreed to be identified, says on tonight’s Watchdog programme that her claim is being denied by the council on grounds it had no duty of care for her.
She claims she was offered pounds 50,000 by the council on condition she sought no more publicity – terms she refused.
Ms Lesiakowski is now suing the council and says it is opposing her damages claim on the grounds that it had no duty of care, and therefore no responsibility, and because her action is out of time.
The House of Lords ruled last December that a woman could not bring an action for damages for alleged sexual abuse against her stepfather and adoptive brother because she was outside the time limits.
The 1980 Limitation Act requires damages claims for personal injury, rape, or indecent assault to be brought within six years of the incident or within six years of the victim reaching 18. It is thought that three-quarters of those claiming compensation in the Beck affair are over 24.
Leicestershire said in a statement yesterday that the claims were being handled by Municipal Mutual, its insurer. It had told the company it wanted them dealt with in a just and equitable manner and each was being considered on its merits.
Some claims were awaiting medical evidence, some needed verification of facts, and some “are awaiting the outcome of proceedings to clarify whether they are out of time”.
If the insurer determined the council had legal liability it would pay any damages. If it determined otherwise the papers would be passed back to the council which would then “look at all the circumstances of each claim and decide whether any payment can be made”.
The council stood by its earlier commitment to deal with all claims as sympathetically as possible, the statement went on, and it did not deny a duty of care. “This is not so. These words have been taken from the initial paperwork that precedes a trial and reflect no more than the normal exchanges between parties in a civil action.”
United Press International
June 1st, 1994
‘British child abuser dies in prison’
Frank Beck, the former social worker convicted of sexually abusing children in his care, died in prison at age 51, the British Prison Service said Wednesday.
Complaining of chest pains, Beck collapsed at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night in the gym of Whitemoor high-security prison in Cambridgeshire, southeast England, where he was serving five life sentences.
A Prison Service spokesman said Beck briefly recovered, but then suffered another attack of chest pains at 8:40 p.m., after being placed under medical care in the prison’s hospital wing.
An ambulance was called, but Beck was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m.
The coroner and Beck’s family had been informed, the spokesman said.
Beck was convicted in November 1991 on 17 charges of sexual assault on youngsters in three children’s homes which he ran near Leicester, central England.
During the 11-week trial at Leicester Crown Court, the jury was told Beck committed rape, indecent assault and sodomy on up to 200 young people during the 13 years he worked in child care.
Complaints forced Beck to resign in 1986, but the criminal case did not begin until three years later, when a conversation between a Leicestershire council official and a woman who had herself been in Beck’s care led to a lengthy investigation involving 25 police officers, who interviewed hundreds of youngsters in Britain and abroad.
June 1st, 1994
Tim Miles, ‘BECK DEATH GIVES POLICE CHANCE TO GET OVER STRESS’
The death of child abuser Frank Beck will give the victims and officers who worked on the case a chance to get over their emotional stress, according to the man who led the police inquiry. Superintendent Tim Garner of Leicestershire police said: “For Beck’s victims and the officers deeply affected by this draining investigation, his death is an opportunity perhaps to put it all behind them.” One officer involved in the case said: “I’m afraid I can’t feel any sorrow over the man’s death. He was a ratbag.” Beck’s solicitor Oliver D’Sa said his client never ceased claiming he was innocent. “If one thing kept him going it was his determination to prove his innocence.” He said some of Beck’s colleagues and social work clients had told him of the good things he had done. “I have to respect the decision of the court and the jury. They found him guilty of horrendous and wicked crimes. But there were people who told me about the excellent help he had given them,” Mr D’Sa said.
Ms Vera Stamenkovich, a solicitor co-ordinating many of the claims against Leicestershire County Council on behalf of Beck’s victims, said many were deeply affected by what he did to them. “Many of them suffered, are still suffering and will continue to suffer from the effects of the abuse they were subjected to,” she said.
June 1st, 1994
Linda Jackson, ‘DISTURBED CHILDHOOD OF THE MAN THEY CALLED ‘MRS BECK”
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. 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 age of nine and 14 he went to three different schools. He left school at 15 without any qualifications and went to a farming school. 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 assitant 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.
June 1st, 1994
Rebecca Maer, ‘CHILD ABUSER CAUGHT BY CHANCE’
It was a chance remark by a mother that sparked Britain’s biggest investigation into child abuse that ended with former social worker Frank Beck receiving five life terms. The conversation between the woman, accused of ill-treating her son, and a Leicestershire council officer did not take place until 1989, three years after Beck resigned as head of three children’s homes. She confided in the official, blaming her own behaviour on the abuse she suffered herself while in Beck’s care at the Ratcliffe Road home in Leicester in the mid-1970s. She was advised to go to the police and detectives she spoke to noted the names of other children who also claimed they were abused. Senior police officers decided to interview every child who had been in care in homes run by Beck from when he started work at them in 1973. Up to 25 officers worked on the case, tracing and interviewing hundreds of people scattered across three continents who had been youngsters in Beck’s care. Dozens of witnesses, in their 20s and 30s by the time of the trial in 1991, eventually gave evidence in the 11-week hearing at Leicester Crown Court.
Many who were psychologically or sexually abused as children spoke from behind screens in the witness box, reliving the ordeals they were subjected to by Beck. The men and women detailed incidents from when they were as young as eight of being forced to perform oral sex with Beck or of being buggered or raped by him, often dozens of times. The prosecution called a total of 45 witnesses who stated that Beck had corrupted and disturbed the children in his care. But 12 social workers spoke up for Beck at the trial, saying he was caring and concerned when it came to the children. However, the jury convicted Beck of 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse of children including rape, buggery, indecent assault and assault. Many wept in the packed courtroom as Mr Justice Jowitt told Beck: “You are a man with considerable talents and very great evil. “You were entrusted with the care of some of the most disturbed children … many had been sexually abused already and could hardly have been more vulnerable.”
Two damning independent reports published in February of last year criticised police and social services in Leicestershire. One report, by West Mercia police for the Police Complaints Authority, accused officers of “incompetence, negligence and prejudice” in dealing with Beck. It said his activities should have been uncovered earlier and blamed police for tending to disbelieve children who complained because they regarded them as young criminals. All 18 recommendations made were implemented by the county’s police force and its procedures for dealing with child abuse cases were radically reviewed. The other report followed a Government-ordered inquiry into the management of the county’s social services department. It judged managers “inadequate, naive and out of their depth” and afraid to challenge Beck despite numerous complaints against him during his 13-year reign of terror. Social services said last year that drastic reforms had since been put in place. Beck, speaking from prison when the reports were published, wept as he talked to his solicitor in an interview broadcast by BBC Radio Leicester. He said he could not bring himself to read more than selected excerpts and complained that the reports would create further antagonism from other prisoners. “I am not a bloody monster, despite what they say,” he said.
June 1st, 1994
Tim Miles and Rebecca Maer, ‘CHILD MOLESTER BECK DIES IN PRISON’
Former social worker Frank Beck, serving five life sentences for a horrific regime of physical and sexual abuse in children’s homes, has died in prison. Beck, 51, jailed three years ago after being convicted on 17 charges of abuse, including buggery and rape, had continued to protest his innocence. He had been frustrated by the slow progress of his appeal against both his conviction and sentence and there was speculation today that the stress surrounding the lengthy process had contributed to his death. Beck died on Tuesday night after being taken ill in the gym at Whitemoor maximum security jail at March, Cambs, the prison department said. A spokesman said Beck first complained of chest pains and was taken to the prison hospital, where he was kept for observation. He apparently recovered, but at 8.40pm suffered another attack. An ambulance was called but less than an hour later Beck was pronounced dead by the prison’s duty medical officer. The coroner has been informed. At his trial, the jury heard how the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes assaulted up to 200 youngsters, conducting a 13-year reign of terror until he resigned in 1986, following complaints. At the time of his death, Beck was within sight of an opportunity to prove the innocence he had continued to protest. He had won leave to appeal against both his conviction and sentence, on the grounds of incomplete disclosure of evidence by the prosecution. Only today, his solicitor received a letter from him discussing the grounds for his appeal. Leicester solicitor Oliver D’Sa said: “There is no doubt he would have had his day in court. But the case dies with him.” Mr D’Sa added: “He certainly was under considerable stress because he felt things were not proceeding fast enough. “And as far as his family and I were aware, there was nothing physically wrong with him. His death came as a total shock. Totally out of the blue.” For the children – now adults – whom Beck abused, the prospect of an appeal threatened to re-awaken terrors they have tried to shut out from their conscious minds, and to cast doubt once again on the credibility of their claims of abuse. Mike Lindsay, formerly Children’s Rights Officer with Leicestershire County Council who received in confidence the first complaints against Beck from children in care, said: “Beck’s death has put an end to a terrible uncertainty for them, as to whether the world accepted that he was guilty and that they were telling the truth.” “Now they will be relieved that the cause of their anguish has been literally laid to rest.” More than 80 people who were abused while in the care of Leicestershire County Council, mostly by Beck, are suing the council for damages. Proceedings have been issued in 14 specimen cases. Mr Lindsay, who now works for Cleveland County Council, said that while Beck’s death had removed “a terrible charismatic figure, whose memory will continue to haunt many of these people”, it also meant an an opportunity had been lost. “Eventually, if he came to accept what he had done, there would have been an opportunity to learn a lot from Frank Beck,” he said. “We still have a lot to learn about how a paedophile like him came to infiltrate the care system and abuse children on such a massive scale, without the local authority being able to do anything about it.” Mr D’Sa said Beck had been badly abused in prison. “There was a considerable amount of physical and psychological abuse in jail,” he said. “If one thing kept him going, it was his determination to prove his innocence.” Mr D’Sa said some of Beck’s colleagues and social work clients had told him of the good things his client had done. “I have to respect the decision of the court and the jury. They found him guilty of horrendous and wicked crimes. But there were people who told me about the excellent help he had given them,” Mr D’Sa said. But one of the Leicestershire police officers involved in the Beck case – some of whom have suffered themselves since from the emotional trauma of the inmvestigation – was more blunt in his assessment. The officer, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m afraid I can’t feel any sorrow over the man’s death. He was a ratbag.”
Beck complained of feeling ill yesterday evening while in the gym at Whitemoor maximum security prison at March, Cambs, a spokesman said. “At 7.15pm he complained of chest pains and was taken to the prison hospital. At 8.40 he suffered another attack. The ambulance was called but he was pronounced dead at 9.30 by the duty medical officer at the prison,” he said.
Solicitors acting for Beck had won leave for him to appeal against both his conviction and sentence. Oliver D’Sa said today the appeal was proceeding on the grounds of incomplete disclosure of evidence by Leicestershire County Council, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. “There is no doubt he would have had his day in court. But the case dies with him,” Mr D’Sa said. Beck was pre-occupied by the progress of his appeal and emphatic that he was innocent of the charges against him, he said. “I received a letter from him only today in which he was talking about ideas for his appeal. “He was frustrated at the progress of the appeal, but of course it can only be speculation as to whether this played any part in his death. “He certainly was under considerable stress because he felt things were not proceeding fast enough. And as far as his family and I were aware, there was nothing physically wrong with him.” Legal action was also proceeding on behalf of more than 80 victims of Beck who were seeking to sue his former employer, Leicestershire council, over the abuse they suffered while they were in the council’s care. Proceedings have been issued in 14 specimen cases but no court date has been set for the hearing. Simon Stanion, solicitor for many of those seeking compensation, today issued a statement on their behalf. “We have heard of the news of the death of Mr Frank Beck. In as much as Mr Beck is not a party to the claims issued on behalf of our clients against Leicestershire County Council in respect of the alleged abuse they suffered while in care, we believe his death will not materially affect the claims in any way,” he said.
June 2nd, 1994
Richard Ford, ‘Child abuser Beck dies in prison after heart attack’
FRANK Beck, the former social worker serving five life sentences for systematic sexual and physical abuse of children in care, has died in prison.
Beck, 51, had been in the process of preparing an appeal against his conviction and sentence for abusing four children under 16 and raping a girl.
He complained of chest pains while playing badminton at Whitemoor top-security prison in March, Cambridgeshire, on Tuesday night. He was taken to the prison hospital shortly after 7.15pm and told staff on arrival that he felt better. He was placed in a hospital cell, where his condition was monitored, but he suffered a heart attack at 8.40pm.
Staff called for an ambulance but the former social worker and Liberal Democrat councillor was pronounced dead by the prison medical officer at 9.30pm. An inquest will be held. The prison service said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Beck, born in Salisbury, had been in Whitemoor jail since February last year, where he was held in a unit for sex offenders. He was given five life sentences at Leicester Crown Court in November 1991 at the end of Britain’s biggest child sex abuse trial.
The former head of three children’s homes in Leicestershire had conducted a reign of terror until he resigned in 1986 after complaints from two male care workers. At the end of the 11-week trial, Mr Justice Jowitt described him as a man of great evil and sentenced him to life on each of four counts of indecency against children under 16 and one of rape.
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.
During the trial dozens of witnesses gave evidence. Many who had been psychologically or sexually abused as children spoke from behind screens in the witness box as they described their ordeals at the hands of Beck, who had himself been molested as a 13-year-old. The men and women told of incidents from when they were as young as eight, when they were raped or forced to perform indecent acts with Beck, often dozens of times.
Supt Tim Garner, of Leicestershire Police, who led the inquiry into Beck’s activities, said yesterday: ”For Beck’s victims and the officers deeply affected by this draining investigation, his death is an opportunity perhaps to put it all behind them.”
Jenny Lesiakowski, 35, one of Beck’s victims, said after being told of his death: ”I and the other victims suffer 24 hours a day every day because of what he did to us. The pain never goes away. I’m delighted, elated, overjoyed that he has died.”
Two convicted prisoners were charged yesterday with the murder of the paedophile Leslie ”Catweazle” Bailey, who was found dead in his cell at Whitemoor prison last October. Bailey, who was serving life for murdering three young boys, had been strangled.
Michael Cain, 25, from Leicester, and John Brookes, 30, appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court accused of murder. They were remanded to Whitemoor until June 29.
June 2nd, 1994
Rosie Waterhouse, ‘Notorious child sex offender dies in prison; The trial and conviction of Frank Beck followed Britain’s biggest investigation into child abuse. Rosie Waterhouse reports’
FRANK BECK, one of Britain’s most notorious sex offenders who was convicted of abusing children in his care at Leicestershire children’s homes, has died in jail.
Beck, 52, suffered a heart attack on Tuesday night after playing badminton at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire, where he was kept segregated on a wing with other ”vulnerable” prisoners, mainly other sex offenders and child molesters. A prison spokesman said: ”We are treating it as cardiac arrest. There is no suggestion there was anyone else involved.”
He was convicted at Leicester Crown Court in November 1991 of 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse of boys and girls including rape, buggery, indecent assault and assault. Sentencing Beck to five life terms, the judge, Mr Justice Jowitt, told him: ”You are a man with considerable talents and very great evil. You were entrusted with the care of some of the most disturbed children . . . many had been sexually abused already and could hardly have been more
Beck had a lonely and disturbed childhood. He was teased for being effeminate and before he was 13 he was sexually assaulted by a man on a train. He went on to become a Liberal councillor and leading childcare worker.
It was a chance remark by a mother that sparked Britain’s biggest investigation into child abuse. The conversation between the woman, accused of ill-treating her son, and a Leicestershire council officer did not take place until 1989, three years after Beck resigned as head of three children’s homes, the Poplars in Market Harborough, the Ratcliffe Road home in Leicester, and the Beeches in Leicester Forest East.
She confided in the official, blaming her own behaviour on the abuse she suffered herself while in Beck’s care at the Ratcliffe Road home in the mid-1970s. She was advised to go to the police and detectives she spoke to noted the names of other children who also claimed they were abused. Senior police officers decided to interview every child who had been in care in homes run by Beck from when he started work at them in 1973.
Dozens of witnesses, in their twenties and thirties by the time of the trial in 1991, gave evidence during the 11-week hearing. Many of the adult victims spoke from behind screens, detailing incidents from when they were as young as eight, of being forced to perform oral sex with Beck or of being buggered or raped by him.
But 12 social workers spoke up for Beck at the trial, saying he was caring and concerned when it came to the children. Beck was appealing against his conviction and sentence. Leave to appeal and legal aid were granted in January 1993 and Anthony Scrivener QC, one of Britain’s most eminent lawyers and former chairman of the Bar, agreed at the end of last year to take the case.
Beck’s solicitor, Oliver D’Sa, said: ”He was very impatient for the appeal to go ahead. His death came out of the blue. Normally the case would lapse and die with him but his family and close friends are discussing the possibility of carrying on with the appeal. This would not be unprecedented.”
Mr D’Sa said Beck was convinced there was enough new evidence and material that was not put before the original court due to non-disclosure by the prosecution which would have made the original conviction unsafe and proved his innocence.
Two damning independent reports published in February 1993 criticised police and social services in Leicestershire. One report, by West Mercia Police for the Police Complaints Authority, accused officers of ”incompetence, negligence and prejudice” in dealing with Beck. It said his activities should have been uncovered earlier and blamed police for tending to disbelieve children who complained because they regarded them as young criminals.
The other report followed a government-ordered inquiry into the management of the county’s social services department. It judged managers ”inadequate, nave and out of their depth” and afraid to challenge Beck despite numerous complaints against him.
Legal action is also proceeding on behalf of more than 80 of Beck’s victims who were seeking to sue his former employer, Leicestershire County Council, over the abuse they suffered while they were in the council’s care.
June 2nd, 1994
John Mullin, ‘HEART ATTACK KILLS ‘EVIL’ CHILD ABUSER; Jailed head of children’s homes insisted he was innocent’
FRANK Beck, the former head of Leicestershire children’s homes, serving five life sentences plus 24 years for sexual and physical abuse, has died in prison, protesting his innocence to the last.
Mr Beck, aged 52, collapsed shortly after a game of badminton at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire, and died of a heart attack. There were no suspicious circumstances, the Home Office said.
Mr Beck’s appeal against conviction and sentence, imposed at Leicester crown court in November 1991 following an 11-week trial, was due to be heard next year. Anthony Scrivener QC, who was to represent him, had already visited him in prison.
One of Mr Beck’s last acts before his death on Tuesday was to post a letter to his solicitor outlining possible avenues for the appeal. Oliver D’Sa, who was representing him, received it yesterday, just after he was told Mr Beck had died.
Mr D’Sa said the appeal would have focused on alleged non-disclosure of material evidence by Leicestershire county council, Leicestershire police and the Crown Prosecution Service. There were also new witnesses to contradict the Crown’s case, Mr D’Sa said.
“I spoke to him last on Saturday. There was nothing physically wrong with him, but he was clearly frustrated at the delays in the appeal hearing, and perhaps that contributed to stress. He was barely interested in the appeal against sentence, because he has always been adamant about his innocence.”
Mr Beck, a former marine who was sexually abused as a child, worked for 13 years at three children’s homes in Leicestershire. He left in 1986. A chance remark from a mother to a social worker three years later sparked the Leicestershire police investigation.
Detectives travelled to three continents to interview 800 youngsters who had been in his care. He was found guilty on 17 charges of sexual abuse and physical torture.
A West Mercia police report into the Leicestershire force’s handling of the affair said they should have uncovered Mr Beck’s activities earlier. Police were accused of “incompetence, negligence and prejudice”. Eighteen recommendations have since been implemented.
A separate pounds 1.25 million report, looking at the social services, criticised 10 senior officers. Andrew Kirkwood QC, said some managers were “inadequate, naive and out of their depth”.
They had been afraid to challenge Mr Beck over his regressional therapy techniques, the guise under which the abuse was said to have happened, despite several complaints against him. New procedures had been adopted, Leicestershire social services said.
Mr Justice Jowitt, sentencing Mr Beck, told him: “You are a man whose character combines considerable talent and very great evil. Sadly, you chose to use your talent in pursuit of your evil and lustful desires.
“Some of the most difficult and disturbed children in Leicestershire were entrusted to your care. Some had already been abused. They could hardly have been more vulnerable.”
Up to 80 victims are planning to sue Leicestershire county council. Proceedings have been issued in 14 specimen cases. No court date has yet been set.
Simon Stanton, solicitor for many of those seeking compensation, said: “In as much as Mr Beck is not a party to the claims, we believe his death will not materially affect the claims in any way.”
December 3rd, 1991
Nicholas Wood, ‘MP denies abuse claim’
GREVILLE Janner yesterday told MPs that there was ”not a shred of truth” in allegations made during the Leicestershire children’s homes case that he sexually abused a teenage boy .
The Labour MP for Leicester West was making his first direct comment on the trial that ended with Frank Beck, the former head of three homes, being jailed for life for sexually and physically abusing children.
Mr Janner denied the allegations made by Beck that he had a two-year affair with Paul Winston, now aged 30. ”There is not a shred of truth in any of the allegations of criminal conduct made against me during the trial by Beck or by his accomplice Winston,” he said.
Mr Janner said that he and his family had endured a ”taste of the suffering” caused by Beck, but the real victims were the innocent people whose lives had been wrecked at his hands.
The MP added that he hoped to comment more widely on the case in a late night Commons debate tonight.
William Waldegrave, the health secretary, giving details of the two enquiries launched in the aftermath of the case, described Beck as evil. He said that the Commons had shown its support for Mr Janner. ”I am sure the House will wish to join with him in sending its sympathies to the many victims, some of whom may have suffered irreparable damage.”
Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, condemned the ”cowardly attacks” on Mr Janner. Michael Latham, Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, said that Mr Janner had been the target of ”vile allegations and lies”.
Mr Janner was interviewed by police last March after an outburst by Beck at a preliminary trial hearing. His lawyers said in a statement at the time that he vigorously denied the claims.
December 3rd, 1991
Press Association Parliamentary Staff, ‘JANNER CLAIMS BECK PLOTTED TO FRAME HIM’
Labour’s Greville Janner said tonight he had evidence that jailed children’s home head Frank Beck had plotted to frame him in the Leicester sex abuse case. Mr Janner (Leicester W) told the Commons he had received a letter yesterday from a former cellmate of Beck, saying that Beck had told him of the bid which he hoped would “take the light off him”. The disclosure came as the Government rejected Mr Janner’s call for a swift review of the law on contempt of court, despite cross-party support. With his family watching from the public gallery, Mr Janner said in an extended adjournment debate: “Surely it must be wrong for people who have no part in a trial to be open to venemous, preposterous attacks, with no remedy, no recompense and above all no right of reply. “Surely others should not be forced to suffer as we have done. If such a review does lead to a just and useful alteration in the operation of the law of contempt, we will not have suffered in vain.” But despite an assurance from Labour’s chief whip Derek Foster that the Opposition would back a change in the law, Solicitor General Nicholas Lyell cautioned: “The law does not permit the right of the press freely to report proceedings in open court to be fettered – notwithstanding that such reporting may be or would be embarrassing, damaging or inconvenient to some individual who has featured in the case. “That would be a major inroad into a constitutional safeguard and would expose the courts to risk of pressure from interested third parties.” Beck, former head of three children’s homes, received five life sentences on Friday from Leicester Crown Court for a 13-year sexual “reign of terror” over youngsters in his care. During the trial, it was alleged that Mr Janner took part in sex sessions with an orphan boy, Paul Winston. Mr Winston, now 30, claimed the MP – a barrister and QC – sexually abused him over a two-year period and gave him expensive presents. Mr Janner was interviewed by police last March after an outburst by Beck at a preliminary trial hearing. The MP’s lawyers also said in a statement at the time that he vigorously denied the claims.
Tonight in the House, Mr Janner denounced the allegations as “disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue” and received unanimous support from MPs. Beck, he said, had been convicted of a series of “filthy” crimes. “He called as a witness Paul Winston. Long ago when Winston was a deprived youngster living in a Leicesteshire children’s home, my family and I tried unsuccessfully to help him. Soon after he was placed in a home run by Beck. “Now after some 15 years of Beck’s influence, including a period when Winston lodged in Beck’s private home, now after I had refused to provide Beck with a reference, now only shortly before Beck’s trial was due to begin – they combined, Beck and Winston, to make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct against me.” He said their motive had been made clear in a letter sent to him yesterday by a former cellmate of Beck’s. “He writes that Beck told him that he, Beck, was going to frame me, and according to Beck, that would take the light off him.” To this end, he “enlisted the help of Winston. The former cellmate also wrote that the police knew he was willing to give evidence to that effect if the Crown thought it necessary to call him. In the event it did not.” Tory David Ashby (Leicestershire NW), opening the debate earlier, called on the Government to bring in measures to prevent people being named outside the courtroom when they were affected by evidence but could not protect themselves, as was the practice with rape victims.
said Mr Janner had made clear there was absolutely no truth in the horrible allegations made against him. To cheers, he declared: “The House, of course, immediately and unreservedly accepts that statement from you.” Keith Vaz (Lab Leicester E) told Mr Janner: “You have vindicated yourself and vindicated all of us by what you have said tonight.” Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab Crewe and Natwich) protested that the travail suffered by Mr Janner and his family “was made 100,000 times worse because of certain members of the press”, while Simon Burns (C Chelmsford) expressed disgust at press coverage “and the pillorying of an innocent victim in a court case”. Former Labour Home Secretary Merlyn Rees complained that the press was quick to report a row between MPs but less inclined to report debates such as this. Patrick Cormack (C Staffordshire S) said the law needed to be changed. While it had been possible for Mr Janner, as an MP to speak in the Commons, that would not have been open to most other people. Barristers Alex Carlile (Lib Dem Montgomery) and Ivan Lawrence (C Burton) were among those who paid tribute to Mr Janner. Mr Carlisle said: “He is a man of determination and enthusiasm whose integrity and will power have crossed party lines.” Mr Lawrence said of the calls for a change in the law: “There is absolutely no reason why a judge should not be given the power to say in an appropriate case that the name of the person maligned should not be repeated in the press. It does not have to be a statutory ban, the matter can be left to the judgment of the court.”
, opening the debate earlier, called on the Government to bring in measures to prevent people being named outside the courtroom when they were affected by evidence but could not protect themselves. He said Beck was “an evil man” who had used Mr Janner’s name for his own ends and to “blackmail the establishment”. Yet a person in Mr Janner’s position could be subject to any libel by the media and could do nothing about it. If a statement was issued in self-defence it would be deemed to be contempt of court. Mr Ashby protested: “There cannot be any justice when that person has been pilloried, taken from pillar to post, by the press, when people are looking at him askance. “He hasn’t even been able to deny it. He hasn’t been able to say it’s untrue. “It affects himself. It affects his family and it must be a living hell.” He went on: “There ought to be a way in which evidence affecting other people who cannot protect themselves should be excluded from the newspapers, the television and the radio, in the way in which it hasn’t been. “There is a precedent for this. We do this in the case of persons who are the victims of rape.”
said Mr Janner had made clear there was absolutely no truth in the horrible allegations made against him. To cheers, he declared: “The House, of course, immediately and unreservedly accepts that statement from you.” He added: “Hopefully day has now dawned for you after the long night of despair. “But we should now look urgently at the existing procedures to see that such a horrible event can never happen again without any redress for those who have been so long and unjustly traduced.” Keith Vaz (Lab Leicester E) told Mr Janner: “You have vindicated yourself and vindicated all of us by what you have said tonight.” He said he had approached the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, during Mr Janner’s ordeal and suggested there should be legislation “to provide for the protection of the innocent – he did say he would look at this matter and consider this matter”. Mr Vaz added he himself would introduce a Private Member’s Bill if the Government would give it safe passage. Turning again to Mr Janner, he said: “You are a great survivor … I am sure you will survive this great ordeal.”
said: “This will not be the first time and will not be the last time that the law in Britain is an ass and has proven to be an ass. “We have got an opportunity to put it right.” Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab Crewe and Natwich) said the travail suffered by Mr Janner and his family “was made 100,000 times worse because of certain members of the press”. She added: “Those who purport to be editors of responsible newspapers, of news bulletins, have to look carefully at those decisions they take and the manner in which they handle matters of this kind.” They had exploited the case “for the worst possible reasons, because they were concerned with the sale of newspapers, and not with what they were doing to an honourable, a learned and a very responsible man”. Simon Burns (C Chelmsford) expressed disgust at press coverage “and the pillorying of an innocent victim in a court case”. He said: “I am afraid that to many people in this country Mr Janner has been found guilty. They do not understand what court reporting is all about in newspapers. “They see an accusation in a newspaper and it is a fact, or it is that dreadfully trite expression: ‘There is no smoke without fire’.” To cheers, Mr Burns said he hoped newspapers that covered the case “will tomorrow morning make sure that Mr Janner gets as much coverage, so that people are left in no shadow of a doubt that there was not one scintilla of truth in those ghastly, grubby accusations that that horrendous man was prepared to make”.
Former Labour Home Secretary Merlyn Rees said the press was quick to report a row between MPs but less inclined to report debates such as this. He said: “If we were all shouting at each other, it would be there.”
He added: “The Solicitor General will be dealing with the question of contempt. I hope we are not going to forget the newspapers in particular. “I wonder how many of them will cover their pages tomorrow or the day after in the same way as they covered them in the last few weeks. “There is a great deal of talk about freedom of the press. When you look at what went on in Eastern Europe and fascist Europe before the war when I was younger, I am glad we have a free press. “We have a free press … that sometimes engages in the most scurrilous way and covers it up under the heading of a free press.” Patrick Cormack (C Staffordshire S) said the law needed to be changed. While it had been possible for Mr Janner, as an MP to speak in the Commons, that would not have been open to most other people. A village school master or vicar, named in court in the way Mr Janner had been, would have fewer opportunities to answer back. People would think there was “no smoke without fire” and “the mud would stick”. He hoped there would be a firm commitment from the Solicitor General, endorsed by the Opposition, to say the law needed to be amended. This was “not in any sense to restrict the freedom of those who are innocent until proved guilty”. But “to prevent the sort of vile calumny which we are discussing here now being perpetrated again”.
a barrister, also paid tribute to Mr Janner: “He is a man of determination and enthusiasm whose integrity and will power have crossed party lines.” Mr Carlile described Mr Beck as an “evil and corrupt” man. “Those who have trodden in the mire of corruption all too easily become corrupt to the core … ceasing to recognise what is good and what is good and bad. “And like Mr Beck they turn to corruption to wheedle their way out of their own previous corruption.” Another barrister MP, Ivan Lawrence (C Burton) praised Mr Janner. “We all have immense regard for him, not just for the way he conducts himself in Leicester, but for the way he conducts himself in the rest of the United Kingdom, and on behalf of the UK abroad. “He is a very famous personality who has helped many hundreds and thousands of people worldwide. He is precisely the kind of person who can be brought down lowest by the kind of hateful things that have been said and reported about him in a court of law.” Mr Lawrence suggested that judges should be given the power to stop things being said to the detriment of prominent people in a court of law. “There is absolutely no reason why a judge should not be given the power to say in an appropriate case that the name of the person maligned should not be repeated in the press. “It does not have to be a statutory ban, the matter can be left to the judgment of the court. As in so many other areas, the judge should be given the discretion to tell the press, ‘you may not publish the name of this person because to do so would mean contempt of court’. “The Government should take this action as soon as possible, so that Mr Janner and his family will not have suffered in vain.” Labour’s Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington) commented: “I’d like to think for a moment of all the youngsters that were so badly damaged and hurt by that evil man (Beck). “The sentence that he got is one he well deserved. Five life sentences doesn’t seem to many of us to be quite enough for what he’s done to our youngsters.” He said he was a friend of Mr Janner, and had travelled around Israel with him. Tory John Marshall (Hendon S) said he counted the Janner family as his friends. He praised them for “the quiet dignity and courage they’ve displayed in recent weeks while these vile, vicious and baseless allegations were being made by a proven liar”. Labour’s chief whip Derek Foster said he was breaking “his Trappist vow of six years”. He added: “I’ve rarely seen the House so unanimous in its warmth and its affection and especially in its understanding of the very severe ordeal which one of our colleagues and his family have had to endure for many months now.” He said Mr Janner and his family “have borne it with great fortitude, with great resilience, with great courage, and only through their great religious faith”. He said Labour leader Neil Kinnock would have liked to be there for the debate. “He has been a tremendous support to Mr Janner and his family in so many small and very touching ways which I know have been deeply appreciated,” he said. Labour would back a change in the law he said.
Replying to the debate, Solicitor General Sir Nicholas Lyell said Mr Janner had been through an ordeal which no MP would wish to share. But the principle of open justice was absolutely central to the country’s system of criminal justice. The role of criminal proceedings would be “hollow” if they could not be freely reported by the media. “The law does not permit the right of the press freely to report proceedings in open court to be fettered – notwithstanding that such reporting may be or would be embarrassing, damaging or inconvenient to some individual who has featured in the case. “That would be a major inroad into a constitutional safeguard and would expose the courts to risk of pressure from interested third parties.” He asked: “Is it possible to solve this very grave difficulty simply by suppressing a name or ordering the press not to publish it?” prompting cries of “yes” from several MPs on both sides of the House. Amid opposition and Tory protests, he added: “I invite the House to reflect very cautiously before beginning to interfere in the right of the press to make a fair and accurate report.” Sir Nicholas warned: “When you conceal matters you don’t necessarily quieten them.” To further protests, he said: “I ask the House to be careful when it has one of its own members in its charge. “We are right to sympathise with him (Mr Janner).”
[Incomplete sentences here are taken from the same form as they appear in the article on Nexis]
December 3rd, 1991
Dean Nelson, ‘Sex abuse victims in homes to get helpline’
THE National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Clwyd County Council will today announce a freephone emergency helpline for victims of sexual and physical abuse at children’s homes in North Wales, following an investigation by The Independent on Sunday.
Six child-care experts from a panel of guardians ad litem have been selected by the NSPCC to take calls from ”adult survivors” of abuse in two Clwyd homes and one in neighbouring Gwynedd, after revelations of widespread abuse.
John Jevons, Clwyd’s director of social services, said yesterday that the helpline had been planned to coincide with arrests of child abusers by police, but its launch was brought forward because of the Independent on Sunday report.
It is understood that North Wales Police may not make arrests for another fortnight.
Neil Hopkins, the NSPCC’s West Midlands and Wales regional director, said he anticipated that the helpline would be flooded with calls from throughout Wales from distressed former residents of the homes. Mr Hopkins praised the investigation, but said there was a need to help those who had been ”traumatised” by rekindled memories of abuse. The six child-care experts will offer advice and counselling.
The NSPCC also plans to establish a helpline for the victims of Frank Beck, who last week received five life sentences for buggery and assaults on children in homes in Leicestershire. Mr Hopkins said it was important for those who had been abused in care to be counselled and helped to overcome the trauma.
Clywd social services has also joined forces with the National Association for Young People in Care (NAYPIC) and Urchin, a group that represents those in care who have complaints. Clwyd plans to fund a North Wales office for NAYPIC to ensure children in care are better represented.
Gwynedd sources yesterday told The Independent that there was an ”increasing possibility” that Allan Levy QC, who was chairman of the ”pin-down” inquiry in Staffordshire, would join Barbara Kahan, his erstwhile colleague, to lead the new inquiry into abuse in Gwynedd homes.
The Welsh Office yesterday issued a statement after The Independent On Sunday revealed that Sir Wyn Roberts, the Welsh Office minister, had written a letter in July claiming that North Wales Police had already ”properly investigated” allegations of abuse in the homes. The statement stressed that his letter referred only to allegations at Ty’r Felyn Assessment Centre in Bangor, Gwynedd.
”The minister was correctly describing the circumstances at Ty’r Felyn, and only Ty’r Felyn, in July. The police had investigated allegations made in 1986 and had found no case to answer. Similarly, the social services inspectorate at the Welsh Office inspected the home in 1988 and they also found no evidence,” a spokesman said.
December 3rd, 1991
Stephen Goodwin, ‘Parliament and Politics: Both sides cheer Janner’s denial of abuse claims; The Beck case – Commons statement’
GREVILLE JANNER (Lab, Leicester West) was cheered by MPs on both sides of the Commons yesterday after he dismissed allegations made during the Leicestershire child abuse trial that he had sexually assaulted a teenage boy in care.
Last week, Frank Beck was jailed for five life terms after being found guilty at Leicester Crown Court of 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse, including buggery and rape, of children in his care at three children’s homes.
During the trial, Paul Winston, now 30, claimed Mr Janner sexually abused him for two years from the age of 13. A central plank of Beck’s defence was that he had stopped Mr Janner from seeing Mr Winston.
When Mr Janner rose to deny the allegations, after an emergency statement on the trial, there was a rumble of support for him from both sides of the chamber.
Cheers followed when he said: ”There was, of course, not a shred of truth in any of the allegations of criminal conduct made against me during the trial by Beck or by his accomplice Winston.”
Mr Janner said everyone in Leicestershire would welcome the inquiry into Beck’s regime. He said he and his wife and family had had a taste of the suffering Beck could impose on innocent people, but MPs’ ”profound sympathy” should go to the real suffers – ”the individuals who endured his homes and whose lives have been wrecked at his hands”.
William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Health, said the Commons had ”demonstrated its feelings” to Mr Janner by the reception it gave him. Michael Latham (C, Rutland and Melton) spoke of the ”vile allegations and lies” made against Mr Janner who, pointedly and unusually for a political opponent, he called his ”honourable and learned friend”. Keith Vaz (Lab, Leicester East) condemned the ”cowardly attack” on Mr Janner’s character.
Earlier, Mr Waldegrave warned that no system of vetting child care officers was proof against ”evil people” getting into positions of power.
Detailing the inquiries set up in the wake of the trial, Mr Waldegrave said no amount of legislation or qualifications could guarantee there would be no more child abuse in children’s homes.
In addition to a statutory inquiry into abuse in the Leicestershire homes, Mr Waldegrave is setting up a national inquiry into selection and criteria for staff working in children’s homes. He said it would be chaired by Norman Warner, former director of Kent social services.
Joan Lestor, a Labour home affairs spokeswoman, called for an independent children’s rights commissioner to hear their complaints. ”The crux of the matter is that these children were not listened to. They were not believed when they complained to the very people we had put them in the care of in order to be protected.”
Mr Waldegrave said that when children went into care now, their attention was drawn to the telephone number of a named officer, quite separate from the home, to whom they could complain.
Mr Janner is expected to make a longer statement in the Commons tonight when he initiates an adjournment debate on the law on contempt of court.
December 3rd, 1991
Alan Travis, ‘Janner cheered in Commons’
MPs from all sides warmly supported Greville Janner in the Commons yesterday when the Labour MP for Leicester West insisted ‘there was not a shred of truth’ in allegations made against him during the Frank Beck child abuse trial.
His comments came as William Waldegrave, the Health Secretary, named Norman Warner, the former director of Kent social services, to head a national inquiry into the selection of children’s home staff.
During the trial, which ended last Friday in the conviction of the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes, claims were made that Mr Janner had a two-year affair with an orphaned teenage boy.
Mr Janner’s brief intervention is expected to be followed by a fuller statement during an adjournment debate tonight.
He told the Commons: ‘There was, of course, not a shred of truth in any of the allegations of criminal conduct made against me during the trial by Beck or his accomplice, Winston . . . As my wife, my family, and I have had a taste of the suffering which Beck can impose on innocent people, will you join with me in sending to the real sufferers, the individuals who endured his homes and whose lives have been wrecked at his hands, the profound sympathy of us all?’
As he sat down there were cries of agreement around the Commons before Mr Waldegrave observed: ‘I am sure that the House has demonstrated its feelings on this matter in relation to you by the reception you have just received.’
While Michael Latham, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, talked of the ‘vile allegations and lies’ made against Mr Janner, his fellow Leicester MP, Keith Vaz, condemned the ‘cowardly attacks’ on the MP.
During a private notice question, the Health Secretary confirmed the announcement made last Friday that he was setting up two inquiries as a result of the Beck case – into staff selection at homes and into the handling of complaints in Leicestershire.
There had been many improvements in Leicestershire since the period of Mr Beck’s involvement, but deficiencies remained.
Mr Waldegrave said the case showed the need to look with the utmost care at staff selection in children’s homes. No amount of checking of qualifications or legislation could guarantee there would not be more child abuse.
He agreed with Joan Lestor, Labour spokeswoman on children, that the backlog in vetting certain professional staff needed to be tackled, and that children needed an independent person to whom they could confidently complain.
‘The crux of the matter is that these children were not listened to,’ she said.
December 4th, 1991
Nicholas Wood and Peter Mulligan, ‘Beck tried to frame me, says Janner’
GREVILLE Janner claimed last night that Frank Beck tried to frame him during the Leicestershire children’s homes case by falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a teenage boy.
Speaking at length for the first time in the Commons about his ordeal, the Labour MP for Leicester West appealed to the government to change the law of cntempt to stop the media repeating ”disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations” made under the cloak of legal privilege.
”Surely it must be wrong for people who have no part in a trial to be opened to venomous and preposterous attacks with no remedy, with no recompense and, above all, with no right of reply.”
Beck received five life sentences for 13 years of physical and sexual abuse of children. His allegations against Mr Janner were repeated in court by Paul Winston, now aged 30, who claimed that he had been abused by the MP for two years from the age of 13.
Mr Janner, who was strongly supported by MPs from all sides of the House in his call for a change in the law, disclosed that he had received on Monday a letter from a former cellmate of Beck’s revealing the plot against him. ”He writes that Beck told him that he, Beck, was going to frame me. According to Beck, that would take the light off him. And to that end Beck enlisted the help of Winston.” Mr Janner added that the cellmate also said that police knew that the MP would be the target of allegations.
”But the allegations against me were precisely as the prosecution alleged in Beck’s trial: an attempted diversion from the reality of Beck’s guilt, although the verdict has since showed that, happily, that attempt failed.
”Beck and Winston were able to make this terrible and wrong accusation against me and the media could and, with honourable exceptions, did report these falsehoods all under the cloak of absolute privilege. I had effectively no legal rights in the matter and I was not even allowed to nail the lie. No wonder many people were mystified by my uncharacteristic silence.”
Sir Nicholas Lyell, solictor general, argued that the right of the press to report proceedings in open court overrode the ”terrible hardship” that could be caused to individuals. ”The law does not permit the right of the press freely to report proceedings in open court to be fettered notwithstanding that such reporting may be or would be embarrassing, damaging or inconvenient to some individual who has featured in the case.”
He added: ”I invite the House to reflect very cautiously before beginning to interfere in the right of the press to make a fair and accurate report.”
In his statement, Mr Janner also spoke of his relationship with Mr Winston. ”Long ago, when Winston was a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home, my family and I tried unsuccessfully to help him. Afterwards, he was placed in a home run by Beck.
”Now after some 15 years of Beck’s influence, including a period when Winston lodged in Beck’s private home, now after I had refused to provide Beck with references, now only shortly before Beck’s trial was due to begin, they combined to make disgraceful and totally untrue allegations against me.”
The MP added: ”I have been able to ride out the agony of this ordeal in good heart. But it has not been easy.”
December 4th, 1991
Craig Seton, ‘The ‘Janner diversion’ that failed to save Beck from justice’
Craig Seton reports on th allegations made in the Beck child-abuse trial which Greville Janner, the Labour MP, said had caused him agony.
GREVILLE Janner, the MP for Leicester West, suffered ”agony” as a result of allegations, made during the Frank Beck child-abuse trial, that he had had sex with one of the witnesses, even though those allegations had been labelled ”a red herring” and a ”charade” by Peter Joyce, QC, for the prosecution.
It was an experience which led Mr Janner to appeal last night in the House of Commons for a change in the law to prevent the media repeating ”totally untrue” allegations made under the cloak of legal privilege.
Last week, Beck, the chief officer of the Ratcliffe Road home for children in Leicester, was sentenced to five terms of life imprisonment plus 24 years.
Three statements were made to the police by Paul Winston, one of the former children in care of the home and a defence witness, but the discrepancies in the statements were of crucial importance in discrediting Beck’s defence. Mr Winston claimed that, as a 13-year-old in care, he had had a sexual relationship with Mr Janner that had lasted two years in the Seventies.
His first statement was made in August 1990, when Leicestershire police traced hundreds of young people who had been in homes where Beck had been officer in charge between 1973 and 1986, and claimed there had been mistreatment of children in homes, but made no mention of Mr Janner. He made a second statement to police in January 1991, in which he made allegations of sexual assault against Mr Janner, but said that full sex had not occurred.
On February 6, Beck himslf, in custody, made a statement to police in which he claimed that Mr Winston had been sexually abused by the MP. A day later, Winston was seen again and made even more serious allegations against Mr Janner. Later in February, during committal hearing before Leicester city magistrates, Beck shouted as he was being led to the cells: ”There has been a conspiracy. There is an MP called Greville Janner who has been abusing children … the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) know about it and it is wrong it is not being made public.”
During Beck’s trial, Mr Winston was called as a defence witness and made his claim that he had been sexually abused by Mr Janner at the Holiday Inn in Leicester and during a lecture tour of Scotland.
Mr Winston was cross-examined in detail by Peter Joyce, QC, for the prosecution, who labelled the allegations made by Mr Winston and Beck as the ”Janner diversion”. Mr Winston agreed that what he had said in court about having sexual relations with Mr Janner had differed from what he said in his statement to the police in January 1991. He told the court his evidence under oath was the true version.
He agreed that he had tried to get Mr Janner to help Beck ”in some way” because he knew the MP. He also agreed that that was before he had named the MP and that he had named the MP ”a long time” after Mr Janner had refused to help Beck.
Leicestershire police officers who investigated the Beck affair also investigated the allegations made by Paul Winston against Mr Janner. The MP was interviewed at his own request in the presence of his solicitor, Sir David Napley, and later issued a statement in which he vigorously denied the claims. Before Beck’s trial, police sent a report on the allegations made against Mr Janner to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which decided there was no evidence on which to bring charges against the MP. Sources close to the Beck affair say that Leicestershire detectives found no evidence to substantiate the allegations against Mr Janner.
Letters from the MP to Paul Winston at his care home are said by those who have seen them to be neutral in tone and not to substantiate allegations of any sexual relationship.
Beck claimed that he had ended Mr Janner’s alleged relationship with Paul Winston when the boy arrived at Ratcliffe Road. Sources close to the police investigation said it was not surprising that Beck would be anxious to turn away the enquiries of an MP as Beck was already abusing children in his care.
December 4th, 1991
Nicholas Wood, ‘Janner denies abuse’
THE Labour MP accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy said last night that an attempt had been made to frame him.
Greville Janner told the Commons that the plot to make him the target of ”totally untrue allegations” was disclosed by a former cellmate of Frank Beck.
Beck, the former head of three children’s homes in Leicestershire, was jailed last week for life for physical and sexual abuse of children.
The letter said that Beck had enlisted Mr A to divert attention from Beck’s crimes. Mr Winston, now aged 30, told the court that he was abused by the MP for two years from the age of 13.
December 4th, 1991
Press Association Parliamentary Staff, ‘JANNER CLAIMS BECK PLOTTED TO FRAME HIM’
Labour MP Greville Janner last night said he had evidence that jailed children’s home head Frank Beck had plotted to frame him in the Leicester sex abuse case. Mr Janner (Leicester W) told the Commons he had received a letter on Monday from a former cellmate of Beck, saying that Beck had told him of the bid which he hoped would “take the light off him”. The disclosure came as the Government rejected Mr Janner’s call for a swift review of the law on contempt of court, despite cross-party support. With his family watching from the public gallery, Mr Janner said in an extended adjournment debate: “Surely it must be wrong for people who have no part in a trial to be open to venemous, preposterous attacks, with no remedy, no recompense and above all no right of reply. “Surely others should not be forced to suffer as we have done. If such a review does lead to a just and useful alteration in the operation of the law of contempt, we will not have suffered in vain.” But despite an assurance from Labour’s chief whip Derek Foster that the Opposition would back a change in the law, Solicitor General Nicholas Lyell cautioned: “The law does not permit the right of the press freely to report proceedings in open court to be fettered – notwithstanding that such reporting may be or would be embarrassing, damaging or inconvenient to some individual who has featured in the case.” Beck, former head of three children’s homes, received five life sentences on Friday from Leicester Crown Court for a 13-year sexual “reign of terror” over youngsters in his care. During the trial, it was alleged that Mr Janner took part in sex sessions with an orphan boy, Paul Winston. Mr Winston, now 30, claimed the MP – a barrister and QC – sexually abused him over a two-year period and gave him expensive presents. Last night in the House, Mr Janner denounced the allegations as “disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue” and received unanimous support from MPs. He accused Beck and Winston of having combined “to make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct against me”. He said their motive had been made clear in the letter sent to him by Beck’s former cellmate. “He writes that Beck told him that he, Beck, was going to frame me, and according to Beck, that would take the light off him.” To this end, he “enlisted the help of Winston. The former cellmate also wrote that the police knew he was willing to give evidence to that effect if the Crown thought it necessary to call him. In the event it did not.”
December 4th, 1991
Stpehen Goodwin, ‘Parliament and Politics: Janner urges reform of laws on contempt ; Adjournment debate’
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, Sir Nicholas Lyell, was barracked from both sides of the Commons last night as he rejected a cross-party appeal for a review of the law of contempt of court following the naming of the MP, Greville Janner, in the Leicestershire child abuse case.
Mr Janner (Lab, Leicester W) said that he had been ”framed” by Frank Beck, the former head of three children’s homes who received five life sentences last week after being found guilty of 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse of children in his care.
In an unusually emotional debate, in which the MP and his family were praised from all sides for their ”courage” during Beck’s trial, Mr Janner explained that the law of contempt had meant he was unable to reply to ”disgraceful, contemptibly and totally untrue” allegations made against him.
During the trial, Paul Winston, now 30, alleged that while he was in care he had been sexually assaulted by Mr Janner for two years, until he was 15.
Mr Janner told MPs that Beck had enlisted the help of Mr Winston, who Mr Janner’s family had tried unsuccessfully to help when he was ”a deprived youngster” before he was placed in a home run by Beck. Their motive had been made clear in a letter sent to him on Monday by a former cellmate of Beck’s, Mr Janner said.
”He writes that Beck told him that he, Beck, was going to frame me, and, according to Beck, that would take the light off him.”
With his family watching from the public gallery, Mr Janner, a Queen’s Counsel, said there should now be a swift review of the ”injustices” of the operation of the law on contempt of court. ”Surely it must be wrong for people who have no part in a trial to be open to venemous, preposterous attacks, with no remedy, no recompense and above all no right of reply. Surely others should not be forced to suffer as we have done.”
Mr Janner was supported by lawyers and non-lawyers on both sides of the chamber. David Ashby (C, Leicestershire NW), a barrister, said that his friend must have been through ”a living hell”. Beck had used Mr Janner’s name to ”blackmail the establishment” in the hope of not being prosecuted.
Proposing that third parties to trials should be granted anonymity similar to that given to children or the victims of rape or blackmail, Mr Ashby said: ”There cannot be any justice when that person has been pilloried, taken from pillar to post, by the Press, when people are looking at him askance.”
Sir John Farr (C, Harborough) said that it was not the first time the law had been proved to be an ass. In this case it had been very damaging to Mr Janner and his family. Parliament had an opportunity to put it right.
But the united mood of the House was broken by Sir Nicholas, who said that MPs should reflect very cautiously before beginning to interfere in the right of the Press to make a fair and accurate report of court proceedings.
The principle of open justice was absolutely central to the country’s system of justice. ”We interfere with this at our genuine peril, and at peril to our liberties and our system of open justice.”
MPs protested at his suggestion that the problem could not be solved by suppressing a name, or ordering the Press not to publish it. One Tory backbencher shouted at Sir Nicholas to ”stop speaking as a lawyer and start to act as politician”.
Though Sir Nicholas said that Mr Janner had been through an ordeal no MP would wish to share, he said that the role of court proceedings would be ”hollow” if they could not be freely reported by the media.
”The law does not permit the right of the Press freely to report proceedings in open court to be fettered – notwithstanding that such reporting may be, or would be, embarrassing, damaging or inconvenient to some individual who has featured in the case,” he said.
Sir Nicholas warned that once the operation of justice was distorted then, through rumour and ”the insidious effect of rumour”, far more damage could be done. ”When you conceal matters you don’t necessarily quieten them,” he said.
December 4th, 1991
‘Pay offer to residential care staff’
A wage agreement aimed at raising the pay of the worst-off residential staff in local authority homes has been proposed. Local government employers offered a minimum salary for basic residential workers of pounds 10,422 from next April.
Frank Beck, 49, the former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes convicted on 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse of children in care, plans to appeal against his five life sentences.
December 4th, 1991
Nikki Knewstub, ‘MPs refused contempt law review’
THE Solicitor-General last night rejected calls from MPs from all sides of the Commons for a review of the law of contempt of court to prevent allegations against innocent third parties such as those made against the MP Greville Janner in the Frank Beck case.
Sir Nicholas Lyell angered MPs with his sterling defence of the freedom of the press and the rights of a defendant to a fair trial.
‘I suggest we interfere with this at our genuine peril,’ he said, acknowledging the ordeal Mr Janner had been through. The ultimate principle had to be that of open justice.
Mr Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, again rejected allegations made against him during the child abuse trial, saying they were ‘disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue.’
His family were in the public gallery to hear MPs denounce the claims made by Mr Beck, the former head of three children’s homes who was sentenced to five life sentences last Friday for sexual assaults on inmates in his care.
MPs expressed admiration for Mr Janner’s courage and urged a change in the law. Patrick Cormack, Tory MP for Staffordshire South, said such a change would ‘prevent this sort of vile calumny being perpetrated again’. Others expressed concern for those who did not have recourse to Parliament to clear their names, and criticised the press for the way the trial was reported.
During the trial it was alleged that Mr Janner took part in sex sessions with Paul Winston, now aged 30, who was one of the orphans under Mr Beck’s care.
Mr Janner was seen by police earlier this year after Mr Beck made the allegations at a preliminary trial hearing. The MP’s lawyers said in a statement then that he vigorously denied the claims.
During the recent trial Mr Janner, a QC who has been an MP since 1970, was unable to speak out about the claims because of the law on contempt.
He told the Commons on Monday that the allegations were without foundation, and last night, in an adjournment debate on the rules of contempt, he reiterated that the allegations were horrendous, despicable lying, and thanked the House for letting him ‘nail the lies’.
Mr Janner said that Mr Winston had been a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home when he and his family tried unsuccessfully to help him. Soon afterwards he was placed in a home run by Mr Beck.
Mr Janner said: ‘Now after some 15 years of Beck’s influence, including a period when Winston lodged in Beck’s private home, now after I had refused to provide Beck with a reference, now only shortly before Beck’s trial was due to begin, they combined, Beck and Winston, to make disgraceful, contemptible, and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct against me.’
He said the motive had been shown in a letter sent to him by a former cellmate of Mr Beck’s.
The prisoner said Mr Beck had told him that he, Mr Beck, was going to frame the MP. Mr Janner said the prisoner said Mr Beck claimed ‘that would take the light off him’. He enlisted the help of Winston to that end.
– Mr Beck is to appeal against his five life sentences and possibly his convictions for assaulting children in his care, his solicitor said yesterday.
December 4th, 1991
Ian Katz, ‘Sympathy for MP caught in legal bind: Ian Katz reports on the dilemma facing Greville Janner over abuse allegations against him in court’
THERE was an inescapable irony about Greville Janner’s attack last night on the contempt laws which, until the end of the Leicestershire child abuse trial, prevented him from rebutting allegations that he had an affair with a teenage boy.
Mr Janner, QC, ‘barrister-at law, author, lecturer, journalist and broadcaster’ according to his entry in Who’s Who, has never been publicity shy. Included in an oeuvre of more than 60 books is a tome entitled Janner on Presentation, and in an article last year he wrote: ‘Those who suffer at the hands of newspapers can usually only blame themselves.’
In his 20 years in the Commons as the MP for Leicester West, 63-year-old Mr Janner has established himself firmly in the class of busy backbenchers, campaigning for everything from a reduction in the retirement age to more protection for journalists.
Mr Janner’s 1977 Who’s Who entry is regarded by many as a collector’s item. Filling 5 1/2 column inches, more than twice as much as James Callaghan’s, it records the MP’s achievements from his Southern Junior 100 yards championship to his presidency of the Leicester ex-Boxers Association. Later editions record that he was president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1979 to 1985 and an active campaigner for the release of Soviet Jews and the prosecution of war criminals.
But Mr Janner’s healthy appetite for the oxygen of publicity did not detract from the iniquity of his position as the Beck trial generated a jigsaw of allegations against him. Since the allegations were made in court, he could not sue those who made them. Yet he was not directly involved in the case and therefore could not reply to the claims in court.
Any comment outside the court could have placed him in contempt, so he was forced to maintain a potentially damaging silence until Mr Beck was convicted. Mr Janner was warmly supported by MPs on all sides when he strongly denied the allegations in the Commons on Monday.
Several barristers sympathised with his position during the trial. ‘These are allegations which are very easily made and there are no opportunities for dealing with them,’ said Anthony Scrivener, QC, chairman of the Bar. ‘Judged by any basic rules of justice it is unfair.’
However, it is not clear what judges could do to avoid the names of public figures being drawn through other people’s mud in court.
Some barristers suggest a judge should insist on witnesses writing down the names of public figures, or rule that they should be referred to under an alias, although it is unlikely such measures would thwart a defendant bent, as one lawyer put it, ‘on simply diverting the flak from themselves’.
Mr Beck had been intent on drawing Mr Janner’s name into his trial since he blurted the MP’s name during a hearing earlier this year. His counsel insisted the allegations were central to his defence, claiming they showed he fought abuse rather than practising it.
Peter Joyce, QC, for the prosecution, called them a red herring, part of ‘the great Janner diversion’.
Although the Director of Public Prosecutions has no plans to prosecute, it is difficult to see how Mr Janner can fully expunge the smears before the next election, at which he will defend a majority of only 1,201.
December 7th, 1991
‘JANNER: POLICE CONFIRM NO ACTION’
Police are to take no action against MP Greville Janner following allegations made during a child abuse case. He was cheered on all sides of the Commons this week as he said there was “not a shred of truth” in claims made against him at the trial of children’s homes head Frank Beck. Mr Janner was interviewed by police last March after an outburst at a preliminary trial hearing by Beck, who received five life sentences last week at Leicester Crown Court for a 13-year sexual “reign of terror” over youngsters in his care. The Leicester West MP’s lawyers said in a statement at the time that he vigorously denied the claims. Leicestershire police said yesterday: “On the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service, no further action is to be taken.”
December 7th, 1991
‘No action on Janner’
Police yesterday confirmed that no action is to be taken against Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, after allegations against him at the trial of Frank Beck, who was jailed for life last week at Leicester for sex offences against young people.
December 8th, 1991
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Children Betrayed: Psychological tests may be used to detect paedophiles; Following last week’s child abuse revelations, Jack O’Sullivan talks to a residential social worker and the head of the inquiry into children’s homes’
Sophisticated psychological tests for social workers, like those used for company managers, may be introduced to stop paedophiles getting jobs in children’s homes.
The proposal is to be put to the Government’s inquiry into residential childcare, called after the conviction of Frank Beck on 17 charges of sexual and physical assault in Britain’s biggest child- abuse scandal. Beck moved between childcare posts unhindered for nearly 20 years.
Norman Warner, in his first interview since his appointment as chairman of the inquiry, told The Independent on Sunday: ”The trend has been to focus on whether someone can do the job rather than prying into backgrounds. But it is clear that we need to know a lot more about the people we employ in these homes.
”A feature of Beck’s trial and other cases was that some workers have found it difficult to commit themselves to relationships, have had problems with their sexuality and been intrinsically promiscuous. Putting people with these problems in charge of disturbed adolescents is a lethal combination. It could be said to be a dereliction of duty not to explore such issues when employing people.
”This subject could raise hackles and be presented as an invasion of privacy. It could be seen as a witch-hunt. We must not be seen to be targeting homosexuals. After all, heterosexual men are responsible for most child abuse.”
Mr Warner, 51, until recently Kent’s director of social services, is no stranger to controversy. A career civil servant, he was Barbara Castle’s principal private secretary during her battle with the medical profession in the mid- Seventies over pay beds in the National Health Service. In 1979 he provoked a march to Trafalgar Square of Britain’s sub-postmasters in protest at proposals to pay social security benefits through banks instead of post offices, and he was one of Mrs Thatcher’s first ”efficiency scrutineers” recruited by Lord Rayner.
His report on children’s homes is likely to be far more controversial than one only four months ago by Sir William Utting, former head of the Social Services Inspectorate.
He said: ”There seem to be parallels with the Sixties, when society grasped the nettle of the way long-stay psychiatric patients were being treated in closed institutions. Homes are now being inspected really for the first time. It would not surprise me if, when inspectors go poking around such uncharted territories, they uncover some unpleasant goings on. Society has chosen to leave these places alone for a very long time.”
Mr Warner is concerned about the use of often immature temporary staff in some areas. ”If you have a 25 to 30 per cent annual turnover of staff, then, frankly, I think you have a problem in running a caring regime,” he said.
The inquiry will focus on opening children’s homes to wider influences. One possibility could be smaller units of about five children, run by a married couple, or units which also provide services for children still living with parents. Mr Warner said: ”In the majority of these residential home scandals one is struck by the sheer sense of isolation of homes and staff from the mainstream. They have been very open to half-baked solutions. We have to maximise the potential number of whistle-blowers.”
Extra NHS involvement could be a key feature. ”If you isolate 10 or 12 possibly severely traumatised adolescents, common sense suggests that you need adequate psychological support services so people can understand what is normal developmental behaviour. Having unqualified staff without well-defined knowledge is a recipe for disaster.
”What it boils down to is ensuring that you place these highly traumatised children with people who really understand adolescence, have an idea of what can be achieved in a psychotherapeutic way and have access to expert help when the lid blows off. This will be more expensive than putting children in a warehouse.”
December 13th, 1991
Linda Jackson, ‘PSYCHOLOGISTS ‘COULD COMBAT CHILD ABUSE”
Psychologists should make regular visits to children’s homes as a safeguard against abuse, it was claimed today. They could play a crucial role in preventing staff from using therapy as an excuse to prey on children in their care, said the British Psychological Society. The call follows the recent trial of Leicestershire children’s homes head Frank Beck, who sexually abused youngsters under the cloak of regression therapy. The society wants social service chiefs to employ experienced psychologists to visit and advise on treatment at all children’s homes. Ruth Nissim, a psychologist who works for Oxfordshire social services, said the move would make abuse “much more likely to be picked up over a period of time”. She told a London news conference most residential staff currently giving therapy at children’s homes were unqualified for the work. Abuse by staff in children’s homes was “well-established”, claimed Nick Barlow, psychology services manager for Rugby, Warwickshire. “The idea of humiliation continues – that bare boards will make a man of you and what a child needs is discipline.”
December 16th, 1991
‘More abuse cases in Leicestershire’
FOUR MORE cases of alleged malpractice by social workers in Leicestershire children’s homes have been revealed in a report by Government inspectors. The incidents allegedly occurred after the departure in 1986 of Frank Beck, 49, who was sentenced last month to life imprisonment for abusing children in care.
Yesterday, Brian Waller, Leicestershire’s director of social services said: ”The fact that they were spotted and dealt with at once shows how much more alert we have become to abuse.”
One social worker was alleged last year to have sexually abused a mentally-handicapped girl. He was suspended.
The Jerusalem Report
December 19th, 1991
Colin Bickler, ‘THE ORDEAL OF GREVILLE JANNER’
A leader of British Jewry is finally permitted to refute charges of child abuse. The ordeal faced by prominent Jewish Member of Parliament Greville Janner over false child-abuse allegations could lead to new legislation to prevent unsubstantiated accusations made during trials in British courts from being publicized in the media.
That, in any case, is the hope of Janner, former president of the British Board of Deputies which oversees Jewish communal affairs – and a strong lobbyist for Jewish and Zionist causes. The Labor MP’s call for such a law drew cheers from both sides of the House of Commons when he was finally able to deny the allegations in Parliament last week.
The accusation that Janner had sexually assaulted a youth over 15 years ago was raised two months ago during the trial of Fred Beck, director of a children’s home in Janner’s constituency of Leicester. Beck was being tried for sexually abusing children in his care. The media were legally allowed to report the allegations made in open court, along with a prosecutor’s remark that the accusation was a “red herring” used by Beck to shift attention from the charges against him. But because British law bars comment, as distinct from straight reporting, on anything said in court, Janner could make no response but a bare denial through his lawyers.
The trial ended in late November, with Beck sentenced to five consecutive life terms plus another 24 years. Only then could Janner, 63, state publicly that local police had years earlier investigated the allegation that he had molested one of Beck’s charges – an orphan named James Winston – and found nothing to support it.
The intervening weeks were a trying time for Janner, a lawyer who has followed in the footsteps of his late father, Barnett – later Lord Janner – a prominent Jewish leader and Labor MP. Though he was unable to speak out, the allegation clearly weighed on him. On December 2, in his first public statement after Beck was convicted, he told an attentive House of Commons that “there was, of course, not a shred of truth” in the charge. Speaking again before the House the next day, he said, “The injustice imposed a special burden on my wife, on my children, on my mother and my sister and all my family.” And Solicitor-General Sir Nicholas Lyell praised the MP’s “dignity in adversity” during his enforced silence.
Janner’s remarks were welcomed with cheers from members on both sides of the House and by Health Secretary William Waldegrave, who has now ordered an inquiry into the running of the children’s homes where sexual abuse had gone on for years.
The belated denial, and the support Janner received, also brought some relief to Britain’s Jewish community. It has been battered of late with bad publicity, most prominently the fraud allegations against the late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, the disappearance of venture capitalist David Rubin, and the share scandals of recent years that have tainted a number of other Jewish businessmen.
Janner, who has refused personal interviews, appealed to Parliament to consider changing the law to bar the media from reporting “disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations” under the cloak of privilege. “Surely, it must be wrong for people who have no part in a trial to be open to venomous and preposterous attacks with no remedy, with no recompense and above all, no right of reply,” he said. “Surely others should not be forced to suffer as we have.”
He disclosed that among the many letters of support he received, one was from a former cellmate of Beck. The letter suggested that Beck and Winston had plotted to accuse Janner of carrying on a sexual relationship with Winston when he was 13 years old to try to divert attention during the trial. Beck and Winston had remained close friends over the years.
Janner clearly intends to put the episode behind him. His office announced last week that he intends to stand for Parliament again when elections are held next year.
December 21st, 1991
Andrew Kirkwood, QC, has been appointed to head the enquiry into child abuse at Leicestershire children’s homes following the Frank Beck case.
January 10th, 1992
‘FRANK BECK TO APPEAL’
Solicitors for Frank Beck, convicted last month of buggery and assault of children in his care in Leicestershire homes, yesterday lodged an appeal.
January 11th, 1992
‘PCA will supervise Beck case inquiry’
The Police Complaints Authority is to supervise an inquiry into claims that Leicestershire police failed to investigate adequately child sexual abuse by Frank Beck, head of three children’s homes for 13 years.
Beck, 49, was given five life sentences and 24 years’ jail in November at the end of his 50-day trial.
He was convicted on l7 charges of physical and sexual abuse of children in care and four members of staff.
Some witnesses in the trial told how they complained about alleged abuse to county council staff and police officers years before Beck’s arrest.
The trial was also told how in the years before Beck was charged, police officers returned children to homes after they said they had been abused.
January 22nd, 1992
‘Public enquiry urged on Beck’
Michael Latham and Sir John Farr, Leicestershire Conservative MPs, have demanded that the enquiry into the county council’s handling of complaints against Frank Beck, the social worker jailed for life in November for abusing children in care, should be made public when it begins today.
The enquiry, under the chairmanship of Andrew Kirkwood, QC, was ordered by William Waldegrave, the health secretary, after a court was told that Beck, aged 49, had escaped detection for 13 years.
January 22nd, 1992
Mervyn Tunbridge, ‘CHILD SEX ABUSE CASE: HOW COULD IT HAPPEN?’
One question will dominate the Leicestershire childcare inquiry ordered after senior social worker Frank Beck was convicted of sexually abusing youngsters, chairman Mr Andrew Kirkwood QC, stressed today. That question was: “How could all this have been allowed to go on unchecked for 13 years?”, he told the inquiry’s formal opening at an unused school in the Leicestershire village of Thurcaston. The Government ordered the inquiry after Beck’s two-month trial at Leicester Crown Court which ended in November with the social worker being given five life sentences for offences involving youngsters in his care in county council children’s homes. He was convicted of a total of 17 charges including rape, serious sexual assault, indecent assault and causing actual bodily harm. Father-of-three Mr Kirkwood, 47, stressed that the inquiry, which will begin hearing evidence from witnesses in private on February 12, was not a trial, a platform for opponents or supporters of Beck’s methods, or a rehearsal for any civil claims for damages. His task, he said, was to inquire into and report on management response to complaints or other prima-facie evidence of abuse, malpractice or related matters in all Leicestershire children’s homes between 1973 and 1986. He could not decide on complaints about the conduct of childcare officers in relation to the children or to each other, and if the complaints were about criminal conduct “they are within the exclusive province of the criminal court”.
January 23rd, 1992
Evidence at the enquiry into the case of Frank Beck, the Leicestershire social worker jailed for abusing children in council care, is to be heard in private, it was disclosed yesterday. Andrew Kirkwood, QC, chairman of the enquiry, told a preliminary hearing that he would take evidence in private to enable witnesses to talk freely. A full report of the enquiry’s findings would be made public.
January 23rd, 1992
Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Press ban at sex abuse inquiry is attacked’
A CONSERVATIVE MP yesterday attacked bans on the Press and public from attending a government inquiry into how sexual abuse continued unchecked for 13 years in Leicestershire children’s homes.
Solicitors representing more than 50 victims said the public might suspect a cover-up and threatened a High Court challenge.
The ban covers the inquiry into how Frank Beck, head of three Leicestershire children’s homes from 1973 to 1986, continued to abuse children in his care, despite a dozen complaints. He was then given a job reference when he left Leicestershire, after complaints that he molested fellow staff, to work in a London children’s home.
The ban means that Beck’s superiors will give evidence behind closed doors. It was ordered by Andrew Kirkwood QC, chairman of the Leicestershire inquiry, which opened yesterday. The inquiry, whose report will be made public, was established last November after Beck, 49, received five life sentences and 24 years in jail for 17 offences of sexual and physical abuse.
Reporting of Beck’s trial was also banned until The Independent and other newspapers successfully challenged it. The 11-week trial featured allegations against Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, by a former resident of Leicestershire homes.
Sir John Farr, Conservative MP for Harborough, said yesterday that Mr Kirkwood could have taken the more vulnerable witnesses in the beginning in private and then have gone into public session. ”The more you pull down the net curtains, the more the rumours multiply.”
Brian Dodds, solicitor for more than 50 victims, said: ”The public may feel that there could be a cover-up if this decision stands.”
January 23rd, 1992
‘BECK INQUIRY PRIVATE’
The inquiry into the management of Leicestershire children’s homes during the 13-year period of sexual abuse by social worker Frank Beck, jailed for life in November, will be held in private, it was announced yesterday. The inquiry will begin hearing evidence on February 12.
February 5th, 1992
David Brindle ‘SOCIAL WORK: REGULATION LOOMS AT LAST FOR SOCIAL SERVICES WORLD;
The idea is trotted out after every new scandal. Now, forty years on, an independent body looks likely’
THE great and the good of the social services world will gather next Tuesday to resume work on their grand design: the creation of a general social services council with powers to register, discipline and ultimately strike off social workers and other staff.
At this point, observers who have been following this saga for some years may be tempted to turn the page. There has been talk since the early 1950s of the need for an independent body to regulate social workers and the idea is trotted out every time there is a scandal involving failure on the part of social services. But nothing ever seems to happen. Now, however, there is a real prospect of firm plans being drawn up. Thanks to a pounds 30,000 government grant and unprecedented co-operation among all parties – even those deeply sceptical about the likely end result – remarkable progress is being made on piecing together the nuts and bolts of a scheme.
Daphne Statham, director of the National Institute for Social Work, says: “I am frankly surprised at how far we have got. There is a lot of good will around. There are obviously a lot of difficult issues to address, particularly concerning registration and discipline, but I have been surprised how positively we have moved forward.”
The immediate impetus for this progress was a report two years ago by Roy Parker, professor of social administration at Bristol university. He concluded there was a good case for establishment not of a social work council, covering merely 30,000 field social workers, but of a general social services council, covering perhaps 250,000 care staff in the local authority, voluntary and private sectors. It was resolved that work on the idea should proceed as quickly as possible. Last autumn, after the Government had agreed funding, the hard talking began.
It would be foolish, though, to conclude that one man’s report alone could have turned the tide in favour of a regulatory body: rather, there were powerful underlying trends running in the same direction.
One such trend was the deepening public antipathy to social work arising from a succession of child abuse cases. The Parker report observed: “Whether or not it’s justified, there does seem to have been something of a crisis of confidence . . . in the personal social services.” In this climate, there grew a feeling that social services should be seen to be putting its house in order.
The other important trend was the changing shape of social services: the shift towards community care and the rapid growth of the private residential sector.
As long as social workers and social care staff were largely employed by local authorities, it could be argued that regulation and discipline were imposed at local level.
With more staff being employed in the voluntary and private sectors, and with local authority care workers shifting from residential homes to unsupervised roles in the community, such an argument lost its force. Mr Parker was unable even to estimate numbers employed in the private residential sector.
He wrote: “There is a large but unknown pool of staff in private residential care settings whose appointment, performamce and training are subject to no systematic and reliable system of regulation short of the operation of market forces and consumer choice. However, in the case of the frail, confused or disabled, the value of those sanctions is likely to be severely constrained.”
Awareness that care provision will continue to fragment has helped weld the diverse interests on the action group, ranging from local authority associations to trade unions to Whitehall observers. Unity has also been encouraged by the fact that the core proposal is not restricted to social work alone. As Ms Statham says: “I would not have supported it had it moved forward on just social work.
The people who have most contact with clients are the home helps and day care staff. If you don’t pull these people in, you are not focussing the safeguarding of standards from the user and carer perspective.”
The action group is tackling on a step-by-step basis each of the key issues implicit in a general council: constitution, purpose and responsibilities, training, complaints and representation, standard-setting, scope, funding, advisory/ regulatory status and registration. If all continues according to plan, a completed framework will be ready by the autumn.
Peter Barclay, NISW president, predicted at the launch of the Parker report that a general council could be up and running by 1995. He still stands by that. “Progress has been so very encouraging that we could well by then be embarking on phased implementation of what would be a very ambitious undertaking, although we will of course require primary legislation to be passed by Parliament,” Mr Barclay says.
Ministers have been conspicuously silent on the developing initiative, although the pounds 30,000 grant was a positive sign and the heavy stress being laid on user involvement in the embryonic general council chimes well with the Citizen’s Charter. Labour, too, has said little.
But the political prospects are of little concern to the scheme’s prime movers when set against the obstacles still to be overcome within the action group.
Chief among these is the stance of Nalgo, the union representing most social workers, which is mandated by conference policy to oppose any scheme involving registration of staff that would carry the risk of “double jeopardy” for those disciplined by both their employer and the general council.
John Findlay, Nalgo assistant national officer, says: “We are not opposed to some form of national body to deal with matters of professional practice and guidelines. We are opposed to registration simply on grounds of double jeopardy. If a social worker does something wrong, there are perfectly adequate mechanisms at the local authority for measures to be taken against that person.” Such concerns are thought to be shared to a degree by some local authority associations: Peter Westland, of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, describes his body’s attitude to the scheme as one of “benign scepticism”.
On the other hand, there are reasons for thinking that Nalgo’s stance may mellow: its policy was rushed through at the end of a conference session in 1990 when some delegates were leaving; other professions, such as medicine and nursing, manage to combine employer discipline with a regulatory council; and Nalgo is planning to merge with two other care workers’ unions, Cohse and Nupe, the former being enthusiastically committed to a general council and the latter saying it has an open mind.
When push comes to shove, Nalgo may be prepared to compromise on a limited – perhaps voluntary – register which, given the problems of registering 250,000 care workers and then policing them, may be a more practical short-term goal. The union’s leadership is as aware as anybody of the advantages of being able to demonstrate a system that would represent an additional means of tackling scandals. Had a register existed, for example, would Frank Beck have been able to maintain his regime of abuse in Leicester children’s homes for 13 years and then succeed in getting a social work post elsewhere?
Ms Statham says: “A general council would not stop Frank Beck cases: every profession has people who abuse their positions of power. But it ought to prevent it going on so long.”
February 13th, 1992
‘BECK CHILD ABUSE INQUIRY OPENS’
AN INQUIRY into social worker Frank Beck’s 13 years of abuse at Leicester children’s homes opened yesterday behind closed doors.
Inquiry chairman Andrew Kirkwood QC promised to leave “no stone unturned” in his attempt to discover how Mr Beck’s paedophilia went undetected by social services management.
Mr Beck, aged 49, was jailed for life in November for numerous physical and sexual assaults on children in care at three homes he ran in Leicestershire between 1973-86.
In a two-hour opening address yesterday, Mr Kirkwood said Mr Beck’s conduct was possibly “the most serious abuse of children in residential care in Britain”.
The inquiry, by Leicestershire county council, will examine how social services officers dealt with complaints against Mr Beck, and if his experience and qualifications made him suitable for his post. It will also consider allegations that a paedophile ring was at work in the county, unchecked due to to Freemasonary connections.
February 14th, 1992
‘INQUIRY STAYS IN CAMERA’
The inquiry into Frank Beck’s years of abuse as a social worker at Leicestershire children’s homes will remain in camera, it’s chairman, Andrew Kirkwood, QC, confirmed yesterday.
Mail on Sunday
February 23rd, 1992
‘Beck workers in new inquiry’
SOCIAL workers involved in a Leicestershire ‘child abuse scandal are to be re-investigated by their bosses.
County council officials will follow up a police inquiry which led to Frank Beck being jailed last year for abusing youngsters and colleagues at three homes in his charge.
Social services director Brian Waller has asked detectives for evidence of practices that, while not unlawful, might constitute a disciplinary offence.
Last week he wrote to around 40 staff, who assisted police inquiries, telling them of the new probe.
Union officials say the move is mistimed and may make staff reluctant to give full evidence to a Government inquiry begun last
Of 120 council staff interviewed by police in the Beck inquiry, 80 have now left their jobs.
March 4th, 1992
Jack O’Sullivan, ”Regression therapy’ to get funding’
A RESIDENTIAL home which encourages mentally-ill adults to regress into infancy to the point of wearing nappies is to be officially registered and funded in spite of psychiatrists’ opposition.
Fears about ”regression therapy”, practised by the Trident Housing Association in Birmingham, surfaced last year in the trial of Frank Beck, who used the therapy as a front for sexual abuse in Leicestershire children’s homes.
Registration means residents, all adults, will be entitled to up to pounds 170 a week funding from the Department of Social Security, even though Birmingham council opposed official recognition.
The home, for 12 adults, was moved last year from Shropshire to Birmingham after social services inspectors criticised its practice of making residents stand in the corner and of tying patients to staff by rope. Birmingham council refused registration last year, but has been overruled by the Registered Homes Tribunal.
The home is to move from Small Heath to the Moseley area of Birmingham.
Yesterday the National Schizophrenia Fellowship urged Virgina Bottomley, the Health Minister, to intervene, but the department said little could be done since no law had been infringed.
Nick Morton, Trident’s director, said that patients no longer had to stand in the corner, but some vulnerable patients were linked to staff by rope.
March 17th, 1992
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Hundreds abused in care’
HUNDREDS of children in care are being sexually and physically abused in the residential homes that are supposed to protect them, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
The abuse is occurring at the hands of both staff and older children in the homes. Victims of sexual abuse are at greater than average risk of becoming abusers in their turn.
A quarter of the NSPCC’s 60 child protection teams around the country are investigating cases of institutional abuse or working with the victims, according to Jim Harding, director of child care services. ”It is one of our biggest concerns,” he said at the launch yesterday of the society’s annual report.
In Leicester, a special telephone help line set up after the Frank Beck case, which revealed widespread abuse in children’s homes in the county over many years, received more than 100 calls from adults who had suffered problems later as a result of their abuse.
”The children who go into a home are the most vulnerable you can imagine,” Mr Harding said. ”For abuse then to take place in an institution that is supposed to be caring for them must be one of the cruellest things that you can dish out to any human being.”
He said that cases had come to light in at least eight counties including Essex, Berkshire, Hereford and Worcester, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Clwyd. ”We know of abuse in both children’s homes and boarding schools. Abuse in schools, both private and local authority, is at least as prevalent as in the homes. Given the scale of abuse that occurs in institutions we are talking about hundreds of children.”
Concern about institutional abuse has been around for a long time but has remained hidden from the public, Mr Harding says. ”In the past it has been completely ignored. But now more and more cases are coming forward. I don’t know how big the iceberg is but I’m sure there are other cases to come to light.”
Bob Lewis, secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said that abuse by staff in children’s homes ”does take place on occasions”. But there was also a problem of abuse by other children. ”If you put a number of children who have been sexually abused together there is a risk that they may continue the practice but this time as the abusers.”
A high proportion of staff in residential homes are unqualified ad poorly paid. From next month local authorities are required to negotiate new higher pay scales following the interim report of the local government review of residential care chaired by Lady Howe.
This is the first of a flurry of reports due out in the next few months. An enquiry set up by the National Children’s Home is shortly to report on the extent of child abuse by other children in residential homes. The full Howe report will also be published soon. A government enquiry into the recruitment and retention of residential workers set up after the Beck case and chaired by Norman Warner, former social services director in Kent, is to report in July.
The government has said that it wants all senior staff in residential homes qualified within two years, up from the present level of 60 per cent.
Mr Harding said that the recession had increased the society’s workload. Although funds had increased they had not kept pace with the rising cost of services, and 90 staff had been made redundant. The society’s new helpline, for anyone worried about the welfare of a child, had received 120,000 calls in its first year. ”We have far morerequests for help than we can respond to,” he said.
March 17th, 1992
John Arlidge, ‘Big rise in child abuse cases at homes forecast’
CASES of sexual and physical abuse involving hundreds of children in residential homes and schools are likely to be uncovered this year, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said yesterday.
The NSPCC annual report, published yesterday, shows that its 24-hour child-protection helpline received 120,000 calls last year. Almost 10 per cent required immediate action from the society’s child-protection teams, the social services or police.
From September 1990 to last September, the society received 20,000 requests of a ”serious nature” involving 38,000 children, one third of whom were under five and almost two-thirds under 10.
Jim Harding, the NSPCC director of children’s services, said: ”There are a considerable number of cases of institutional abuse that have not yet come to light. We do know of some cases but we have to be very careful because there may be legal proceedings pending.”
Mr Harding said that those cases of institutional abuse which had been made public – notably in Leicestershire and Staffordshire – were ”not the sum total”.
”I could name about eight counties where I know there has been some form of institutional abuse involving hundreds of children and I do not believe this is the end of the line . . . I do not know how big the iceberg is.”
He predicted that new cases of abuse would be uncovered at children’s homes, boarding schools and schools for children with special needs run by local authorities, the private sector or voluntary agencies. One quarter of NSPCC child-protection teams and projects had evidence of institutional abuse in local communities.
The calls to the NSPCC’s national helpline and to special local helplines showed that children and adults abused as children in institutions were talking ”more and more” about their experiences.
More than 100 adults who had been abused in residential homes or schools contacted a local helpine set up after Frank Beck, a former Leicestershire social worker, was given five life sentences in November for abusing children in his care.
Mr Harding said that the recession may have led to an increase in abuse. ”A large number of the kind of families we deal with, who suffer from poor housing and environmental conditions, worries over financial resources and lack of care facilities, are under stress at the moment. Certainly the recession is a time when the stress is high, leading to the possibility that children would be more at risk.”
NSPCC officials investigated on average 1,962 cases involving 4,300 children every day, almost a third of whom had been sexually abused. Sixteen per cent involved physical abuse and a further 16 per cent involved neglect.
Christopher Brown, society director, said that 1.1 million children were at risk of ”significant harm” and that between 150 and 200 children die each year ”following abuse or neglect at the hands of parents or close relatives”.
April 1st, 1992
Tom Hopkins, ‘PUBLIC CONCERN WITH A PRIVATE WORRY; Cases of sex abuse have led to a government inquiry into recruiting child-care staff but, says Tom Hopkins, it falls alarmingly short’
WITH Frank Beck serving a life sentence for sexually abusing children in his care – and other cases in the offing concerning children’s homes in North Wales – the Government hopes to allay public anxiety by its inquiry into the recruitment of residential child-care staff. Yet the investigation could fail to take into account one major provider of residential child-care.
While much is known about care by social services departments and voluntary organisations, little information is yet available about the world of private residential care for children. The names and locations of homes, the number of children in residence, their gender and ethnic identities; details of their “care careers”; the numbers of staff, especially the status of their qualifications – all these are issues on which neither central government nor the local authorities who place children in private care have been able to shed much light.
For at least a half-century, private children’s homes have been able to trade almost unnoticed even by the social work profession of which they have been, and are, a small but increasingly significant part. It is this sector that has enjoyed, under the Conservative Government, a steady expansion unfettered by the regulatory requirements imposed on statutory and voluntary agencies.
Fourteen years after I first became interested in this area (as a lecturer visiting residential child-care students in training placements), there is still no central data base which professionals, politicians or the general public can consult.
Central government was, in 1978, only just beginning to contemplate registration of independent sector establishments. It is quite likely that this small measure of regulation would have gone ahead if the Conservatives had not won the 1979 election. As the Guardian later suggested, personal intervention by Mrs Thatcher put paid to the legislation early in 1980.
Curiously, when a Labour MP used a Private Member’s Bill to introduce regulatory mechanisms in the form of the 1982 Children’s Home Act, it was with the very strong support of the Tories. Since that legislation has never been implemented, it might not be too cynical to suggest that the Conservatives’ apparent volte face was simple political expediency. They simultaneously managed to help the introduction of regulation and inspection requirements while doing nothing to ensure they took effect.
Careful analysis of official statistics, combined with regular reading of professional journals carrying advertisements for staff and residents, strongly suggests that the private sector now numbers more than 200 residential homes caring for some 7,000 children. In recent years it has attracted the interest and inward investment of North American and Middle Eastern entrepreneurs who, with their UK counterparts, have been quick to spot the profits to be made on weekly fees of up to pounds 1,000 per child.
For some social service departments, using the private sector is to make a reality of “welfare pluralism”; they believe there is a need for the private sector and make free use of it. For other authorities, struggling with inadequate and charge-capped budgets, deciding to save money by closing their own children’s homes fosters reliance on the private sector to deal with some of their most troubled and troublesome youngsters. These and other sources ensure a buoyant market for private care.
Nor is it likely to dry up in the foreseeable future. Though the recently introduced 1989 Children Act suggests the possibility of fewer children going into residential care, it is worth remembering that so did the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act: within three years of its enactment some sectors of residential child care had witnessed more than 150 per cent growth.
In theory the lack of regulation is soon to change. The implementation of the 1989 Children Act, and especially Part VIII, which requires all children’s homes to be registered and inspected, should offer some guarantee to vulnerable children and young people that they will be safer in residential care than at home.
However, the act has only been in force since last October: as authorities struggle to implement the main body of the act, registration and inspection of private homes may be a very low priority. Early returns to a survey of 116 English and Welsh SSDs by myself and John Harris suggest that some authorities are ignorant of the very existence of private children’s homes.
Several of the survey questionnaires, answering the initial question “How did you identify the homes needing to be registered”, replied “We are not aware of any needing registration” and “None are known to us”. Though these eventually may prove to be accurate assumptions, they illustrate very well that the obligation is on homes to seek registration, not for the social service departments to identify them.
Yet since it is the SSDs that place children and young people in the private sector, it would be a relatively simple matter, using for example the Association of Directors of Social Services organisation, to identify the location and nature of private homes in England and Wales.
So the Government inquiry into recruitment and related issues faces failing, partly or wholly, to consider who works in this sector, what training and/or qualifications they possess and how they are recruited. On the last point, there is a strong suggestion that many homes make much use of low paid casual/temporary staff at the junior level, especially at weekends when children are often encouraged to return home if they can.
Residential child-care is now big business for the social work “temping” agencies that have sprung up in the last five years. Though reputable agencies will do their best to check on applicants’ backgrounds and career histories, they often do not have time to pursue the thorough police checks required for permanent SSD staff. This means the possibility of at least some private home staff moving from one short posting to another virtually unvetted.
Ironically, the one body that might have helped the Government inquiry no longer exists: the Association of Independent Children’s Households, formed by private home-owners partly as an industry watchdog, dissolved in 1986 “through lack of member interest”, according to its last secretary.
None of the above is intended to suggest that private homes are rife with physical or sexual abuse, or any other form of malpractice. But precisely because no single body – professional, lay, or governmental – has a clear picture of the sector’s shape and activities, we cannot simply and confidently assume all is well within it.
It would be wrong to suggest that Frank Beck’s monstrous behaviour only came to light because he worked in the public domain. Yet the fact remains that in the private sector we have a significant and growing provider of services about which those who should know know very little at all. Can we afford to wait the several years that registration and inspection will take before we are properly informed?
Tom Hopkins is principal lecturer in social work at Coventry Polytechnic.
May 13th, 1992
Tim Moynihan, ‘MP JANNER TO AID SEX ABUSE PROBE’
Labour MP Greville Janner will assist the inquiry into Frank Beck’s years of abuse at children’s homes, it was disclosed today. The member for Leicester West was drawn into Beck’s trial in 1991 when it was alleged in court by a former boy in care that he had been sexually abused by the MP. Police investigated the claims and said no action would be taken. Mr Janner was cheered on all sides of the Commons when he spoke at length of his ordeal and strongly denied the allegations. Beck, a former senior Leicestershire social worker, was jailed for life for numerous physical and sexual assaults on children in care at three homes he ran in the county from 1973-86. Today the solicitor clerk to the inquiry, Lynda Eaton, said: “Greville Janner is pleased to give assistance to the inquiry and its work. The chairman has asked him to put his evidence in writing and he is in the process of doing so.” The inquiry, chaired by Andrew Kirkwood QC, opened in February and is taking place mostly behind closed doors, although there are regular press briefings. It is trying to find out how management dealt with complaints, and is expected to take evidence until the end of next month. A report will be made public later.
It was also announced that the chairman proposed to hear oral evidence from Mr Beck at Gartree prison. No date has been fixed.
The Herald (Glasgow)
May 14th, 1992
‘MP aids Beck inquiry’
LABOUR MP Greville Janner will assist the inquiry into Frank Beck’s years of abuse at children’s homes, it was disclosed yesterday. The member for Leicester West was drawn into Beck’s trial in 1991 when it was alleged in court by a former boy in care that he had been sexually abused by the MP. Police investigated the claims and said no action would be taken. Mr Janner was cheered on all sides of the Commons when he spoke at length of his ordeal and strongly denied the allegations. Beck, a former senior Leicestershire social worker, was jailed for life for numerous physical and sexual assaults on children in care at three homes he ran in the county from 1973-86.
June 20th, 1992
‘MP at Beck hearing’
Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, gave evidence yesterday at the enquiry into the running of children’s homes in Leicestershire. The hearing was set up after Frank Beck was jailed for life for abusing children at the three county homes he ran.
Its aim is to find out how Beck’s 13-year reign of abuse was allowed to continue. At his trial Beck, 50, claimed that Mr Janner had had a relationship with a former boy in care. Mr Janner, 63, has vigorously denied the claims.
June 20th, 1992
Labour MP Greville Janner gave evidence yesterday) at the Frank Beck inquiry into the running of Leicestershire children’s homes. He was not asked about allegations against him.
June 26th, 1992
‘BECK GRANTED APPEAL’
Frank Beck, who was given five life terms last November after being convicted of sexually and physically abusing youngsters and staff at children’s homes he ran in Leicestershire, has been given leave to appeal against sentence.
June 27th, 1992
‘Beck’s jail appeal’
Frank Beck, a convicted paedophile, has been given leave to appeal against life sentences for offences committed during the 13 years he ran Leicestershire’s children’s homes.
Beck, 50, a social worker, was given five life terms and 24 years’ jail last November after being convicted of sexually and physically abusing youngsters and former staff until 1986.
His appeal before three judges will be heard this year or early next year. A government enquiry into the running of Leicestershire County Council’s children’s homes during Beck’s reign is due to complete hearing evidence next week.
September 30th, 1992
Linda Jackson, ‘POOR STAFF SELECTION ‘PUTTING CHILDREN AT RISK”
Children are at risk of abuse because of social service chiefs’ failure to appoint the right staff in care homes, according to a Government inquiry. Staff selection procedures border on the negligent, said the inquiry into recruitment set up in the wake of the Frank Beck case, which uncovered extensive abuse in Leicestershire children’s homes. Proper police checks are still not being made on the backgrounds of workers who are badly trained and destined to fail, said Norman Warner, head of the inquiry. All too often supervision consists of a chat in the corridor and there is unsatisfactory support and care of staff, he said. Mr Warner, who will shortly present his report on staff recruitment to the Government, said: “Appointment arrangements in many places are sloppy and are not designed to produce safe appointments. “This unsatisfactory situation has made it easier for a small group of people with perverted and paedophile tendencies to indulge their proclivities in children’s homes.” He called for a major overhaul in staff training and a fundamental change of attitude among employers and senior managers. Mr Warner said an inquiry survey showed some of the most troubled and demanding youngsters were being looked after by a “largely unqualified workforce”. Four out of 10 heads of homes and eight out of 10 care staff had no relevant qualifications. Mr Warner told the annual conference of the Association of Directors of Social Services on the Isle of Wight there was little evidence of any systematic attempt by social services to find out anything about the way candidates related to children. He added: “When it comes to appointments, I would suggest that it comes close to negligence to appoint staff without conducting proper inquiries of previous employers.” Interview procedures were shown to be outdated, he said. Research showed their chances of producing satisfactory staff were about 14% – worse odds than tossing a coin. In some authorities, employers took little account of past references with the result that 10% of heads of homes and a third of care workers were appointed before references were received. Mr Warner said employers should consider probation periods for employees and called for a “new and more realistic training strategy” with regular and frequent supervision of staff.
Health Minister Dr Brian Mawhinney said: “It was precisely because government ministers were concerned about the issues that arose out of the Leicestershire case that we asked Mr Warner to conduct an inquiry. “We are waiting for him to report back to us. I frankly cannot believe he was reporting the conclusions of his inquiry at this meeting rather than to ministers.” Dr Mawhinney pointed out that the amount of money available for training social workers had risen during the last two years to almost £30 million. “This is a measure of the seriousness we attach to this,” he said.
October 1st, 1992
Alison Roberts, ‘Perverts have ‘easy access’ to children
People with ”perverted and paedophile tendencies” can easily gain access to children because of inadequate staff selection procedures at children’s homes, the head of an enquiry into child abuse in care homes said yesterday.
Norman Warner, leading the enquiry into staff recruitment set up after the Frank Beck case and the subsequent discovery of extensive abuse in Leicestershire children’s homes, said that proper police checks were not being made on applicants for jobs.
He told the annual conference of the Association of Directors of Social Services on the Isle of Wight that social services lacked a systematic approach and failed to find out how candidates related to children. Four out of ten heads of homes and eight out of ten care staff had no relevant qualifications. One in ten heads and a third of other workers were appointed before references were received. The chances of recruiting satisfactory staff using the outdated interview procedures stood at about 14 per cent, the enquiry had found. Mr Warner said employers should consider probation periods for new staff members and monitor all newcomers.
October 1st, 1992
Judy Jones, ‘Lack of checks on homes staff ‘puts children at risk”
CHILDREN in residential care remain vulnerable to abuse and neglect by unsuitable staff despite a string of children’s home scandals over the past decade, social services directors were told yesterday.
A survey of more than 1,000 children’s homes in the public, private and voluntary sectors found that employers often failed to check whether job candidates had criminal convictions, and used ”sloppy” recruitment procedures. Four out of 10 heads of homes and eight out of 10 care staff had no relevant qualifications.
The study, carried out by the consultants Price Waterhouse for the government-appointed Committee of Inquiry on the Management of Residential Children’s Homes, was presented to the annual conference of social services directors on the Isle of Wight.
Norman Warner, the committee chairman, told the conference: ”It comes close to negligence to appoint staff without conducting proper inquiries of previous employers of line managers, or without conducting all approved checks.”
He added: ”This unsatisfactory situation has made it easier for a small group of people with perverted and paedophile tendencies to indulge their proclivities in children’s homes.”
The committee, set up in the wake of the Frank Beck child sex abuse case last year, is expected to demand a radical overhaul of the recruitment and training of staff in children’s homes in its report to Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, next month.
Mr Warner said that one in 10 private and voluntary homes made no police checks for criminal convictions. Moreover, there was little evidence of systematic attempts to establish how well candidates dealt with children. ”The selection and appointment arrangements in many places are sloppy and are not designed to produce safe appointments,” he said.
Interview procedures were shown to be outdated. Research showed their chances of producing satisfactory staff were about 14 per cent – worse odds than tossing a coin.
All too often supervision consisted of a chat in the corridor and there was unsatisfactory support and care of staff, he said.
About two-thirds of the 11,500 children in residential care suffered emotional or behavioural problems, and one-third had suffered sexual abuse. Yet most were being looked after by unqualified, and sometimes untrained, staff.
The committee is likely to recommend formal targets for raising the level of qualifications and training. In particular, it wants all residential child care staff to have personal development contracts to commit employers and employees to agreed training programmes.
The committee will press ministers to improve specialist support services to local authority children’s homes. Only 40 per cent currently have access to psychologists and psychiatrists.
”It is clear that in some parts of the country the NHS has largely abandoned providing specialist support to children’s homes and local authority staff have given up asking for help,” said Mr Warner.
October 1st, 1992
David Brindle, ‘STAFF AT CHILDREN’S HOMES ‘UNCHECKED’; Failure to look at social workers’ records ‘near negligence”
SOCIAL workers are being appointed to run or work in children’s homes without any real attempt to check their suitability, a government inquiry has found.
The failure to check social workers’ records in many cases comes “close to negligence”, Norman Warner, the inquiry chairman, said yesterday.
Outlining the main findings of the inquiry, Mr Warner told the annual social services conference in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, that procedures for choosing staff for children’s homes required overhaul. Training arrangements were lamentable.
“The committee of inquiry considers that the staff in children’s homes need to be given a chance to succeed with those in their care rather than being set up to fail, as often happens.”
The inquiry was set up after the children’s homes scandal in Leicestershire, where Frank Beck, the former head of three homes, was jailed for life for sexually and physically abusing children and fellow social workers over more than a decade.
Mr Warner, former social services director of Kent, told the conference that recruitment procedures were sloppy. Sometimes little account was taken of references – one in 10 heads of homes, and one in three other staff, took up posts before references were received.
“There is little evidence available to the committee that, in selecting people to work in children’s homes, there is any systematic attempt by many employers to find out anything about the way candidates relate to children, any incidents in their own past which might give rise to concerns, or their ability to cope with highly-sexualised teenagers,” he said.
The Utting report, which followed the pin down abuse scandal in Staffordshire, suggested that one in five heads of homes had no relevant qualification. A survey for the Warner committee indicates the proportion is two in five, and also confirms the Utting estimate that about four in five non-supervisory staff are unqualified.
Mr Warner said it would take 30 years for all eligible staff to obtain the new social work diploma. It would be more realistic to concentrate on work-based training and distance learning schemes.
To make real progress, he said, training should be written into staff contracts and there should be regular, formal appraisal.
The inquiry survey found that staff of homes, while poorly-qualified, are neither particularly young nor inexperienced. The average age of heads is 40, and of other workers over 30, with an average four years’ experience.
Mr Warner said local authorities’ plans for reforms over three to five years, must pay more attention to staff. “They are dealing with some very difficult young people, but know that if they misjudge fast-moving and unpleasant situations they may be disciplined.”
– A 12-year-old boy living in a children’s home recently criticised by a social services inspector was found hanged in a lavatory, police said yesterday.
He was named as William McGovern, a resident at Bellshill children’s home, near Glasgow. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
An inquiry into the death is being made by the Strathclyde Region’s social services, but its deputy director, Ian Gilmour, said there was no evidence linking it to the inspection, which mainly related to physical conditions at the home, and remedial work was being carried out.
The boy was taken to school by a senior member of staff as usual on Tuesday and seen by a guidance teacher, but there was no indication his life was in danger. The home caters for 18 boys and girls from primary school age to 18.
October 1st, 1992
David Jack, ‘STAFFING MISTAKES THAT PUT CHILDREN AT RISK’
STAFF recruitment at many children’s homes borders on the negligent, the head of a Government inquiry into the institutions said yesterday.
Norman Warner highlighted shortcomings that leave youngsters open to abuse.
He said many staff had no proper qualifications or training and often weren’t vetted before being put in charge of disturbed children.
He is expected to demand a major shake-up in his report in December. He was appointed last year after Frank Beck, head of three Leicestershire homes, was given five life sentences for a reign of terror against children in care.
Mr Warner told a social services conference on the Isle of Wight that 80 per cent of staff and 40 per cent of heads of homes had no relevant qualifications. A third of care workers took up posts before references had been checked.
‘It has made it easier for a small group with perverted and paedophile tendencies to indulge their proclivities in children’s homes,’ he said.
November 19th, 1992
‘COUNCIL ACTS ON ABUSE SCANDAL’
FOUR Leicestershire social workers have been suspended after an investigation into how sexual abuse went unchecked during the time that Frank Beck was in charge of three children’s homes, it was announced yesterday.
Last November Mr Beck was found guilty of sexual and physical assaults on youngsters over a 13-year period until 1986 and jailed for 24 years.
One of his deputies was also jailed, and another was conditionally discharged. A fourth accused had committed suicide.
The Government ordered an inquiry, headed by Andrew Kirkwood, QC, and its findings are expected in the new year.
But Leicestershire launched its own inquiry because victims had alleged they had told social workers of Mr Beck’s offences years before he was caught.
Twenty-one social workers have been questioned. None of the four suspended have been named, but one is being questioned by police over possible sexual abuse.
Brian Waller, head of social services, said the other cases involved professional conduct that might be subject to disciplinary procedures.
November 25th, 1992
Chris Arnot, ‘SOCIETY: COMFORT AT THE END OF THE LINE; A helpline for victims of abuse in children’s homes expects a new flood of calls’
ON SUNDAY Frank Beck will have spent a year in prison. He still has some way to go, although he has lodged an appeal against the five life terms plus 24 years he received for sexually and physically abusing children and social workers in homes where he was in charge for more than a decade.
“In my eyes he got off lightly,” says Colin. “I would kill the bastard if I could see him.” Colin (not his real name) was in jail when Beck was sentenced. He was on remand on a charge of armed robbery and assault for which he was found not guilty.
Now 21, and on bail on a charge of causing an affray, he has been in and out of penal institutions since he was 15. But he was just nine when a court order ruled he was beyond the control of his parents and he was sent to the Beeches children’s home in Leicester. It was one of three run by Beck.
Colin was abused regularly, and he was not alone. Solicitors are still processing 82 claims for compensation against Leicestershire County Council for crimes committed by Beck and his accomplices between 1973 and 1986. Police estimate that there could be more than 200 potential claimants.
“This man did tremendous damage,” says Glenis Vann, team manager of the NSPCC in Leicestershire. “The extent was far greater than came out in court.”
She is planning to reopen the NSPCC helpline for two weeks in December. The social workers who staff it are expecting a flood of calls following publication of the official inquiry into how Beck got away with such abuse for so long.
The helpline was the first of its kind in this country. It was expected to run for three months, but demand was so great that it ran for six, from the end of Beck’s trial until June 26.
“We didn’t realise the extent to which these people are still traumatised,” Ms Vann says. “And a lot of them are parents now.” The NSPCC is still offering face-to-face counselling to eight of the “survivors”, as they are termed – six men and two women.
Although Beck is classified as a paedophile rather than a homosexual, the majority of his victims were male. Only two women were among the victims of the 27 charges read out at the trial, and their anonymity was protected. The rules of reporting rape cases do not apply to men and those who gave evidence had their names published in the Leicester Mercury.
Having their darkest personal secret revealed to neighbours and acquaintances only added to the anguish. Many callers to the helpline were keen to stress their macho qualities. One admitted he had sex with as many women as he could just “to prove himself”. Another left home for months rather than face friends who had known little about his past.
Colin found the helpline provided something he desperately needed: “The person on the end of the line actually cared about me. I just started unloosening with her. It was the first time I’d really spoken to anybody about it.”
He still suffers nightmares and flashbacks of his time at the Beck-run home. “I thought I’d got it to the back of my head, but seeing it on the telly and reading about it in the papers started it all up again.”
Colin is unemployed. “You’d need a miracle to get a job at the moment,” he says. So money from a compensation claim would be very useful?
“Yes, but it’s not the money so much as knowing that you’d be getting it off Social Services.” He scowls and pulls furiously at his fingers. “. . . The big important people who weren’t willing to listen to what the staff were telling them about Beck.”
By his own admission, Colin has been left with a fear of intimacy. “I nearly spread a geezer’s face wide open in a pub just because he put his arm round me when he was pissed. My mate had to drag me off him.”
Outbursts of aggression are common among the male survivors. “A lot of men have gone on to be involved in criminal activity,” Ms Vann says.
“More than one said he only feels safe in prison. Among women there’s a lot of self-damaging behaviour – cutting themselves and overdosing.”
Have any admitted to abusing their own children?
“We haven’t had anybody who has admitted that. We would have to investigate if they did. The phone line is confidential, but our duty to children overrides all other considerations.”
John Roberts, an NSPCC worker who has taken many calls on the helpline, is keen to dispel the notion that those who have been abused as children will necessarily behave in a similar way to their own offspring.
“Some of the survivors are coping amazingly well with parenting. Some go the other way and let their kids run wild because they don’t want to discipline them.”
His colleague, Marion Clayden, emphasises the issue of trust. “Callers are not very sure about us at first. What they’re telling us is pretty horrific and they want to know whether we can cope, where the information goes and how it will be used. There’s always a fear that we will let them down.”
This is hardly surprising. Mary (not her real name) was allegedly raped by one of Beck’s staff when she was 15. She was only put into care because she was being abused by her father. Later, she went to a foster home where she was abused by the family’s eldest son. That she could trust anyone again would require something of a miracle.
December 6, 1992, Sunday
Linda Jackson, ‘TOUGH NEW GUIDELINES ON CHILDREN’S HOME STAFF’
Government is to order sweeping changes in the way staff are selected for children’s homes, in the wake of a damning report showing councils are appointing people without thoroughly checking their backgrounds. A letter is to be sent to local authorities this week demanding an end to sloppy recruitment policies which are leading to unsafe appointments. Tough new guidelines governing staff selection procedures will be issued shortly and in future child care workers may have to get a licence to practice. Ministers are said to be extremely disturbed by the findings of the Warner inquiry, set up following the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire. Beck received five life sentences for sexually abusing scores of youngsters while in charge of four children’s homes. He was allowed to carry on working with children despite four separate police investigations into alleged abuse by him. The 200-page report, which will be published tomorrow, will show only a handf most employers make no systematic attempt to find out how candidates relate to children, or discover incidents in their own past which might give cause for concern – despite a string of scandals over the last decade. The report will say there are no proper checks on the stability or otherwise of applicants’ sexual relationships. Members of the inquiry team found one in ten heads of homes and one in three other staff were appointed before references were received. There were delays of up to three months in checking criminal records. The report will also show training is dire, with 80% of care staff and 40% of heads of homes having no relevant qualifications. Despite 70% of children being in homes because of emotional and behavioural problems, only 40% of such homes had access to specialist support. Presenting the main findings two months ago, inquiry chairman Norman Warner described local authorities’ failure to check social workers’ past records as bordering on “negligence”. The report is expected to recommend formal targets for raising the level of qualifications and training, and the introduction of personal development contracts setting out agreed training programmes.
December 7th, 1992
‘Childcare workers to be vetted’
The government is to order greater care in choosing staff for children’s homes, after a report showing that councils are not thoroughly checking employees’ backgrounds.
A letter is to be sent to local authorities this week demanding an end to sloppy recruitment policies. Guidelines governing selection procedures will be issued shortly. Childcare workers may have to have a licence to practise.
Ministers are said to be disturbed by the findings of the Warner enquiry, set up after the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire, and published in full today. The 200-page report shows that only a handful of local authorities vet staff thoroughly.
December 7th, 1992
‘Child care job rules to be tightened’
Government is poised to act swiftly on a report criticising councils for failing to identify potential child abusers when they apply for jobs.
The report, to be published today, details the findings of the Warner inquiry, set up after Frank Beck, a social worker, was convicted in 1991 for abusing children at three local authority children’s homes in Leicestershire.
The Department of Health, which has already studied the report in detail, is expected to issue new guidelines to councils in response today. Timothy Yeo, Under-Secretary of State at the Health Department, described the contents of the report as ”disturbing”, adding: ”We must act immediately.”
It is understood that the report criticises local authorities for failing to check the backgrounds of applicants with police and the Department of Health, and failing to obtain thorough references.
December 7th, 1992, Monday
‘Shake-up in child care checks’
THE GOVERNMENT is ordering sweeping changes in the way staff are selected for children’s homes after a report today showed councils are appointing people without checking their backgrounds thoroughly.
A letter will go out to local authorities this week demanding an end to sloppy recruitment policies.
Tough new guidelines governing staff selection procedures will be issued shortly and child care workers may have to get a licence to practise.
Ministers are said to be extremely disturbed by the findings of the Warner inquiry, set up after the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire.
Beck received five life sentences for sexually abusing scores of youngsters while in charge of four children’s homes. He was allowed to continue working with children despite four separate police investigations into alleged abuse by him.
The report, which makes more than 83 recommendations, claimed most employers make no systematic attempt to find out how candidates relate to children, or discover incidents in their own past which might give cause for concern – despite a series of scandals over the past decade.
The report will say there are no proper checks on the stability or otherwise of applicants’ sexual relationships.
Members of the inquiry team found one in 10 heads of homes and one in three other staff were appointed before references were received. There were delays of up to three months in checking criminal records.
December 8th, 1992
Janet Daley, ‘Home truths for carers’
The Warner report has exposed the degradation of Britain’s children’s homes, writes Janet Daley
One scandalous exposure after another gives rise to one official enquiry after another which duly gives forth one solemn report after another: the Leeways report of 1985, the ”pindown” enquiry report of 1990, the Ty Mawr Community Homes Enquiry of 1992. Now the Warner report on residential child care adds one more to the depressing list, all of which have generated recommendations that, as the Warner authors despairingly admit, have yet to be acted upon. Adding another weighty document to that futile pile must have seemed like an exercise in pious hope.
What on earth is going on in these homes which are intended for children who are, in that most compassionate of legal phrases, ”in need of care and protection”? The first thing to be noted is that children’s homes are not the refuges for waifs and orphans which persist in public imagination. They do not exist for Dickensian urchins or the abandoned offspring of the blameless poor latter-day reincarnations of Oliver Twist or the wretched innocents of Dotheboys Hall.
Children’s residential care homes house few children (who can usually be fostered with private families) and are almost entirely filled with adolescents who are ”children” in the strict legal sense only. They do not so much ”care” for their inmates as confine them in conditions which are designed to prevent disorder. They are ”homes” in only the most degraded sense of the word.
This is not, for the most part, a matter of looking after children who do not have homes of their own for some unhappy but benign reason. As Warner acknowledges, it is a case of supervising some of the most difficult young people in the country. The catalogue of maladjustment and social aberration would be daunting to the most conscientious: the sexually abused; the violent; the abusers of substances, of self and of other children; the self-mutilating, and the catch-all category of ”behaviourally disturbed” which may include all manner of distressing and destructive acts. Who, apart from the saintly, the wildly idealistic, or those with suspect intentions, would choose to live with such cases? What is surprising is not that we have occasional scandals but that all of these homes are not permanently riddled with criminal exploitation.
To create sin bins into which the most intractable social problems may be dumped without even discriminating between child victims and child perpetrators, is to invite incurable mismanagement. How could anyone not see that this was a recipe for disaster: isolating an explosive mixture of young people who may have been corrupted by sexual predators or preyed upon by violent parents the backward and sociopathic casualties of society’s fringe and locking in with them, the temporarily displaced or the genuinely naive. Was there a serious hope of finding a large number of wholesome and sincere staff to preside over this hopeless arena?
The sort of people who are attracted to this work have a variety of reasons, some of which are admirable and some sinister. Sorting the one from the other was never going to be an easy task, particularly as those drawn by malign motives are often accomplished liars. There can be few lifestyles so well-practised in deception and concealment as that of the paedophile one of the few minority sexual tastes as yet unrehabilitated by the politically correct. The case of Frank Beck which provoked this latest report seems, with afterthought, to have been an almost inevitable consequence of gathering under one roof so many easy prey for the pederast.
Less easily definable than the determined sex abusers, are the simply power-hungry who may deceive themselves about their true interests. Both the secret sadist and the frustrated social engineer may find a haven here, the first to terrorise, the second to experiment with untried theories of psychological control like ”pindown”. The function of such homes is now a confused muddle of care, control and restriction, and this miasma of unclear objectives is, as so many reports have made relentlessly clear, largely left to fester without regular inspection or clear guidelines.
What has come under specific suspicion in this doomed cycle is the apparent negligence with which staff are assessed for such appointments.
Bearing in mind that those who come forward are few and self-selecting social services departments find residential child care posts enormously difficult to fill the criteria for appropriateness in candidates would be a gospel of perfection at the best of times. But even given the hard-pressed reality, the role of ideology in this is worth examining.
There has been a deliberate policy on the part of social services departments to be equal opportunity employers in the most extreme sense. Which is to say that not only should race, gender and sexual orientation not be a bar to appointment but neither should what is called ”non-relevant” criminal history.
Particularly in the fields of juvenile social work, there has been a move to recruit people from minority and underprivileged backgrounds who may have suffered themselves from mistreatment or neglect as children, and who could be relied on not to pressure alienated adolescents into middle-class conformity. At some point, the desire to install people who could share some of their charges’ experience became an unwillingness to question the personal histories and the real motives of those who offered themselves. And so a social service already disfavoured and demoralised was pulled into the ambit of real evil.
December 8th, 1992
Lin Jenkins, ‘Ex-marine who ran regime of terror’
FRANK Beck is serving five life sentences for the evil he perpetrated on those in his care. Over 13 years he sexually and psychologically abused children as young as eight, stealing their childhood and leaving their lives distorted.
His job as the man running three council children’s homes in Leicester and Market Harborough made committing the crimes easy. Four police investigations failed to discover them.
Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution at the trial at Leicester Crown Court in September 1991, said: ”It was a tunnel of darkness in which they found themselves. There was no escape. If they ran away or did something wrong they were sent straight back into the darkness.”
Children came under ”his sheer power, his sheer personality, his sheer ego”. The homes were supposed to offer a safe environment but some of the weakest and most troubled in society ”had their lives totally distorted and twisted by those whose responsibility it was to help them”.
One woman, aged 31 at the trial, described being repeatedly raped under threat of being submitted to a pyschiatric unit. She had faked abdominal pains and allowed her appendix to be removed in order to escape sexual abuse. Males described being sexually assaulted in their pyjamas and given a lolly pop as a reward. Nobody listened to their complaints, they said. One man who repeatedly absconded was moved finally when he told juvenile magistrates that he would kill himself if sent back.
Beck resigned in 1986 after complaints of sexual harassment by two male care workers. Despite recommendations by the county’s legal department that he should not be employed as a social worker again, Brian Rice, a former director of Leicestershire social services, gave two references. Only by chance was Beck investigated more than three years after he resigned when a woman accused of ill-treating her son told a children’s rights officer that the blame lay in the abuse she suffered while in Beck’s care.
Beck’s charisma, his ten years in the Royal Marines and his work as a Liberal councillor on Blaby district council from 1983 helped to form his reputation as the best man to cope with difficult children. Mr Justice Jowitt drew a different conclusion. ”You are a man whose character combines considerable talent and very great evil.”
December 8th, 1992
Jeremy Laurance, ‘Children’s homes to weed out paedophiles’
SWEEPING changes in the way staff are selected for children’s homes were announced by the government yesterday, to prevent paedophiles from gaining access to vulnerable youngsters.
A letter will be sent to local authorities this week demanding an end to sloppy recruitment policies after a report condemned politicians, social workers and the public for showing indifference to the lives of children in care. Guidelines governing staff selection procedures for the 1,300 homes containing 11,000 children will be issued shortly and childcare workers may, in future, need a licence to practise.
The Warner report says that paedophiles are likely to turn their attention to other areas, such as education and youth work, as the rules on children’s homes are tightened. ”Society will need to be alert to the danger,” it says.
Ministers are known to be extremely disturbed by the findings of the enquiry, headed by Norman Warner, the former social services director of Kent, and set up after the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire. Children’s homes have been a neglected backwater, the report says, where ”unscrupulous individuals” have been allowed to abuse the positions of power they have acquired over children.
Beck receive five life sentences for sexually abusing scores of youngsters while in charge of four children’s homes. He was allowed to continue working with children despite four separate police investigations.
The Warner report is the eighth enquiry into children’s homes in the past few years to highlight disquiet with their management. All have drawn attention to the same shortcomings, but their findings have been unheeded. Public attitudes have been marked by a disbelief that abuse can occur in the homes.
There is a misconception that children’s homes contain orphans and truants whose lives can be transformed by human kindness. Many of the children are violent, abusive and self-mutilating, and a third have been victims of sex abuse. All make huge demands on staff. Some social work managers dismiss the homes as ”a necessary evil”.
The report says that the homes ”need their place in the managerial sun”. Resources should be switched from other parts of the social services budget to raise the status of homes and their staff.
Many employers make no systematic attempt to find out how job applicants relate to children, or to uncover incidents in their past, the report says. They place a ”touching faith” in interviews. One in ten heads of homes and one in three other staff were appointed before references were received and there were delays of up to three months in checking criminal records.
The report says that staff, 80 per cent of whom are unqualified, must be more closely supervised and given better training. The government should recognise that some ”engine for change” is required: it suggests a ”development action group”, appointed for three years, directly responsible to the secretary of state. It says that more money is not necessary but that local authorities should ”reorder priorities”.
The Association of Directors of Social Services welcomed the report but said that the 1.5 per cent public sector pay ceiling could deter good recruits.
December 8th, 1992
Nicholas Timmins, ‘Child care staff interviews criticised’
STAFF being recruited for children’s homes should be questioned about their sexual preferences and the stability of their sexual relationships, health ministers told local authorities yesterday as they published an inquiry into children’s homes.
The Warner inquiry – set up last year after Frank Beck was given five life sentences for sexual abuse of youngsters in four Leicestershire children’s homes – is deeply critical of present recruitment practices in homes that house 15,000 children.
Some councils interpret equal opportunities legislation to ask all candidates a rigid set of questions with no follow ups, failing to obtain personal details that could put at risk children in care, the report says.
”Little systematic attempt is made by many employers to find out anything about the way candidates relate to children; any incidents in their own pasts which might give rise to concerns; or the stability of their own sexual relationships and their ability to cope with often highly sexualised teenagers.”
References, and even criminal records – where there are up to three-month delays in police responding to requests – are often not checked properly, and in many places arrangements ”are not designed to produce safe appointments”, the inquiry, chaired by Norman Warner, former director of social services in Kent, found.
Far more rigorous selection procedures are needed when many employers have ”a touching faith” that a formal 30-minute interview is the best way of selecting staff to care for vulnerable and disturbed children when, alone, that produces worse odds for a satisfactory appointment than tossing a coin.
The position of trust staff are in requires a full investigation ”into candidates’ backgrounds, personalities, attitudes and track records”, the report says, detailing how that should be done.
Only 15 per cent of local authorities vetted staff thoroughly and only half passed information about ”potentially unsuitable” candidates to other councils. Many did not use the Department of Health’s central index of unsuitable employees and only 15 per cent followed up references with telephone calls.
Tim Yeo, Under-Secretary of State for Health, yesterday said local authorities were being told to report by Easter on progress in improving their recruitment procedures. He was, he said, ”greatly concerned” that many of the 83 recommendations in the report were not already routine practice.
The report underlines, however, that not just staff recruitment, but training and supervision require radical improvement, as the nature of children in the homes has changed radically.
Two-thirds suffer from emotional and behavioural difficulties and a third are reported to have been sexually abused.
”Thus some of the most troubled and demanding children in our society are being looked after in children’s homes by a largely unqualified and often untrained workforce.”
Within 12 months structured fortnightly supervision, and annual performance appraisals of staff should be introduced, with training switched to practical on- the-job training linked to distance learning, rather than the present programme which will take 30 years to train all eligible staff for the Diploma in Social Work. ”The present training strategy seems more geared to helping the staff to obtain qualifications that enable them to leave, than to providing practical training for the majority of staff in homes looking after children.”
As the children’s homes population has become more difficult, the report says, the NHS in some parts of the country ”has largely abandoned specialist support to children’s homes”.
Only 40 per cent of local authority homes have anything like regular and easy access to psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.
December 8th, 1992
Nicholas Timmins, ‘Children’s home staff face tougher vetting’
HEALTH ministers yesterday ordered immediate action from local authorities to improve seriously deficient recruitment methods for staff in children’s homes after sexual abuse scandals.
Applicants’ sexual interests, relationships and characters should be discussed in depth at preliminary interviews while full employment histories should be taken and criminal record checks made before appointment, the Warner inquiry into children’s homes staffing recommended.
The inquiry was set up last year after Frank Beck was given five life sentences for sexually abusing children in four Leicestershire children’s homes.
But while ordering councils to act, ministers moved only to consult on a string of recommendations affecting central government – including the appointment of a Development Action Group, with a three-year life and annual public reports, to be both a watchdog and an agent for change.
Tim Yeo, Parliamentary Secretary at the Department of Health, said he accepted the report’s 83 recommendations in principle and declared the report ”will not be allowed to gather dust”. Local authorities should, however, be given an opportunity to comment on how best to implement the report’s recommendations, he said.
Noting that there have been eight inquiries affecting children’s homes since 1985, the Warner team said: ”We are concerned there have been so many inquiries whose findings have gone largely unheeded by the service as a whole.”
Warner suggests the homes are in crisis, the children in them becoming older and more disturbed and that an estimated one third of them are victims of sexual abuse. Staff training and development is described as ”dire”, with 80 per cent of care staff and 40 per cent of home heads unqualified.
Rather than the orphans and truants of a bygone era, some homes now house ”many violent, abused, abusing and self-mutilating children”. An action group would be the ”engine for change” that the homes need.
Labour and local authority associations said more money would be needed to fund the improved recruitment, supervision and work-based training that the inquiry recommends. But Norman Warner, the former Kent social services director who chaired the inquiry, said that councils could achieve more by making children’s homes a higher priority. ”The children in residence did not ask to be there,” he said.
The report says implementation of its recommendations ”will deter a small group of paedophiles who seem to have sought employment in children’s homes to gain access to vunerable children”.
But society ”will need to be alert to the danger” that determined paedophiles could turn to education and youth work as it becomes more difficult for them to secure children’s homes jobs.
The Herald (Glasgow)
December 8th, 1992
‘Child care social workers face questions on sex lives’
SOCIAL workers seeking jobs in children’s homes will be questioned about their sex lives and childhoods to weed out potential paedophiles and perverts.
The tougher vetting procedures were announced by the Government yesterday as the Warner inquiry published a report showing youngsters in care were still vulnerable to abuse by staff despite a wave of children’s home scandals and inquiries.
Councils will get a letter this week demanding that they end sloppy recruitment policies which, the report said, were leading to unsafe appointments.
Health Minister Tim Yeo said local authorities must act on the report’s recommendations and tighten staff selection procedures as a “matter of urgency”.
He said he was extremely disturbed by the findings of the inquiry, which the Government ordered a year ago following the Frank Beck scandal in Leicestershire.
Beck was given five life sentences for sexually abusing scores of youngsters while in charge of four children’s homes.
He had been allowed to work with children despite four separate police investigations into abuse allegations against him.
The Warner report, which makes 83 recommendations, showed councils were still failing to check whether job candidates had criminal convictions.
Only 15% of local authorities vetted staff thoroughly and only half passed information about “potentially unsuitable” candidates to other local authorities. Training was said to be “dire”.
The report, based on a survey of 97 of England’s 109 local authorities and covering private, voluntary, and council homes, highlighted “serious concerns about the way references and checks are handled”.
One in 10 heads of homes was offered a job and a third of care workers took up posts before references were received, it said.
The report said that more importance was placed on equal opportunity policies than on questions about candidates’ personal backgrounds.
The report says 80% of care staff and 40% of heads of homes were regarded by their employers as having no relevant qualification.
It called for the Government to give a clear lead in a radical overhaul of recruitment and training.
Targets set last year, which called for all heads of homes to be qualified within three years, were unrealistic and should be replaced with training with more emphasis on practical experience, it said.
In future, the report said, job candidates should be asked about their attitudes to “control and punishment, significant childhood events, stability of personal relationships or sexual attraction to children”.
Candidates should also have written aptitude tests and the Government should consider introducing personality profile tests.
The report also called for:
* Better monitoring, improved vetting, and more supervision of staff.
* A code of practice setting national standards for children’s homes.
* Improved arrangements for police vetting of staff.
* A licence to allow child care workers to practise.
A taskforce should be set up to monitor implementation of the recommendations, the report added.
Welcoming the report, Mr Yeo said the Government would consult local authorities and the voluntary and private sector on the report’s recommendations.
Mr Yeo was also concerned that the report’s recommendations on recruitment, selection, and appointment of staff were not already routine in every local authority.
The determination of local authorities to pursue equal opportunities policies should not be at the cost of damaging the interests of children, he said.
Mr Yeo said the Government accepted the broad thrust of the report — and added that the Department of Health accepted in principle all the recommendations.
However, asked why he was not setting up a taskforce, one of the central recommendations, Mr Yeo said it was important that local authorities’ views on the report were received first.
Social services chiefs welcomed the report, saying it provided a “sound basis” for improvements in an area that was already seen as a high priority.
However, they warned change would cost money and said it was up to central and local government to find cash for training.
Local government union Nalgo welcomed the report but warned that Government must provide a new staff training programme.
December 8th, 1992
‘LEADING ARTICLE: HOMES OUT OF RANGE’
DO WE need children’s homes? Ignore the big scandals: the 200 children sexually abused by Frank Beck in Leicestershire, the unacceptable pindown controls imposed in Staffordshire, or the horrific abuse exposed by the Kincora inquiry in Northern Ireland. Consider instead the routine life of a typical home set out in yesterday’s report from the Norman Warner Committee: perhaps one-third of the children sexually abused, most of the rest emotionally disturbed and volatile, a high turnover – of staff and children – only reinforcing the sense of instability. There is no single adult to whom the adolescents can turn as a parent substitute. The abused will have a high chance of becoming abusers. All children will have a sense of stigma. Their home will come near to the bottom of the local council’s priorities. Is it conceivable that disturbed young people can find their identity in such surroundings? All research suggests that long periods of institutional care lead to further social problems – and frequently subsequent poor parenting.
Almost 50 years ago the Curtis Committee expressed concern at the lack of affection in children’s homes. Does nothing change? Quite a bit. Many more children are now found foster parents. The number of children in institutional care has been cut by almost two-thirds since 1960. But this still leaves about 11,250 children in 1,300 homes. The Children Act will divert more, but Warner is right to conclude that a range of homes will still be needed for highly disturbed children foster families can’t handle. The role of the homes should be therapeutic rather than custodial; but they could not be more poorly equipped for the task.
Eight out of 10 of their staff do not have a relevant qualification. Even four out of 10 of the heads of homes have no qualifications. Selection, supervision and inspection of staff is archaic. Selection is far too tied to performance in interviews; most councils have no formal appraisal of staff; and 80 per cent have not worked out training needs. The ultimate paradox is that the most demanding tasks in modern social work are being left to the least skilled. Of course they do not have the field worker’s anxiety of going home at night wondering whether a child on their caseload is going to die, but physically and emotionally the work is draining.
Warner sets out sensible reforms for more systematic selection, better structured supervision and a new approach to training. His training ideas will be controversial: scrapping the recent initiative to give every head, deputy and senior a diploma with more practical work-based training. But he’s right. The Utting initiative would take 30 years, cost pounds 50,000 per place, and only provide a passport into more lucratively paid field work. Residential care, however, will never achieve equal status with field work until there is equal pay. Not only were ministers silent about that yesterday, but they were not even prepared to set up the recommended national monitoring unit. There is no point in accepting conclusions if you temporise inertly on the most crucial front.
December 8th, 1992
David Brindle, ‘NEW CHECKS ORDERED ON CHILD CARE STAFF; Inquiry demands better recruitment and supervision procedures after Leicestershire abuse scandal’
– More rigorous selection and appointment procedures for children’s home staff
– Use of wider range of selection techniques than single interview
– Fortnightly supervision and annual appraisal of staff
– New strategy for staff development and training
– Urgent review of health and educational needs of children in homes
– Better planning of children’s services and role of residential care
LOCAL authorities were yesterday ordered to take immediate steps to tighten procedures for recruiting and supervising staff of children’s homes, following publication of the report of a committee of inquiry set up in response to the scandal of systematic abuse in homes in Leicestershire.
Tim Yeo, junior health minister, said the Government was “seriously concerned about the fundamental weaknesses and deficiencies” identified in the report. Local authorities would need to report progress by next April.
However, Mr Yeo made no commitment on what action the Government would take in response to the 83 recommendations of the committee headed by Norman Warner, former social services director of Kent.
He declined to agree that a “development action group” would be set up to oversee improvements. The committee is “convinced that children’s homes need a change agent of this kind”. While the Government accepted in principle the report’s recommendations directed at the Department of Health, consultation would be held with local authority associations and other interested parties before any decisions were made.
The Leicestershire scandal centred on Frank Beck, a former head of children’s homes in the county, who ran a regime of cruelty and abuse for 13 years. When he finally resigned after two male colleagues complained he had molested them, he was given a reference and able to get work elsewhere. He was jailed for life a year ago.
The Warner report, based on a survey of all 1,300 children’s homes in England, says urgent action is needed to improve the way homes are managed and how staff are taken on and monitored. “Too many unqualified, and sometimes ineffective, residential staff are left inadequately trained, supervised and managed to deal with some of the most difficult children in our society,” says the report. “It is not surprising that things go wrong and that deeply disturbing events occur. What may be surprising is that disquieting events are not revealed more often.”
Local authorities are being told to implement the report’s recommendations on recruitment, selection, appointment, supervision and appraisal.
Mr Yeo said he was alarmed the survey had found only 15 per cent of local authorities followed up candidates’ references by telephone. He also shared the report’s view “that employers who invoke equal opportunities as the reason for not obtaining full personal details about job applicants are failing in their duty to protect the best interests of children in care.”
Issues to be subject to consultation include training, on which the report advocates abandoning the policy, implemented after a previous report by Sir Bill Utting following the Staffordshire pin-down scandal, of giving priority to training unqualified senior staff of homes in the general social work diploma, and introducing instead a training programme based on learning at the workplace and a new, specialised qualification.
The Association of Directors of Social Services said the report, if implemented, would enhance improvements already being made in the children’s home sector.
Peter Smallridge, the association president, said: “Nothing in the report’s recommendations is over-ambitious, nor unachievable.”
– Carlton Morgan, aged 34, a former residential social worker, will appear in court today charged with raping a nine-year-old girl at a children’s home in Brixton, south London. Thomas Usher, aged 50, head of Oswald Street children’s home in Hackney, east London, is to appear in court on January 1 on charges of buggery and indecent assault, police said last night.
December 8th, 1992
Anthony Doran, ‘SHAKE-UP FOR CHILD HOMES TO KEEP OUT THE PERVERTS’
SHOCKED Ministers ordered action yesterday to prevent more perverts getting jobs in children’s homes.
The clampdown followed a damning report which accused most local authorities of failing to vet staff thoroughly.
The Government wants an end to sloppy recruitment procedures which have enabled paedophiles to work among children and produced a string of child-abuse scandals.
Official guidelines expected soon could insist that the police records of everyone applying for a job are checked as well as references.
Ministers are said to be shocked by revelations in the report of the Warner inquiry, set up following the scandal surrounding 49-year-old Frank Beck, who received five life sentences for sexually abusing scores of youngsters while in charge of four children’s homes.
Beck was allowed to continue working with children despite four police investigations into his alleged abuse.
The 200-page report makes a series of recommendations, including the suggestion that care staff should have a licence to practice.
Some senior council officials had a touching faith in a 30 to 40-minute interview to select staff, the report said.
Children’s homes were in a ‘serious situation – some have called it a crisis’. It was time for senior managers, assisted by the Government, to act.
Most employers, said the report, made no systematic attempt to find out how candidates related to children or to discover incidents in the candidates’ past which might cause concern.
There were no proper checks on the stability, or otherwise, of applicants’ sexual relationships and ability to cope with often highly-sexed teenagers.
The inquiry chairman, Mr Norman Warner, 52, former social services director of Kent County Council, discovered that some staff found it difficult to commit themselves to relationships, had problems with their own sexuality and had been sexually promiscuous.
Putting people such as these in charge of disturbed adolescents was a lethal combination, he warned.
Some of the most troubled children in society were being cared for by a largely unqualified and untrained workforce, the report went on.
One in ten heads of homes and one in three other staff were appointed before references were received, the inquiry found.
There were delays of up to three months in checking whether candidates had criminal records.
And once employed, staff work was rarely appraised, particularly by councils in urban areas. The homes were not using psychologists, psycotherapists and psychiatrists frequently enough.
Staff, as well as children, needed to be cared for in such stressful work. Staff threatened or attacked by youngsters told the inquiry they were not backed up often enough by employers.
Commenting on the report, Peter Smallridge, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, admitted there was room for improvement.
‘Unfortunately children’s homes seem to have been an opportunity for people with paedophile tendencies to try to get jobs,’ he said.
The report warned that ‘the voice of the child is still very muted in some places, not only in the running of the homes but in being able to make heard their cries for help.’
The average age of children in council homes is 14. Two-thirds are suffering from emotional or behavioural difficulties. A third are reportedly victims of sexual abuse and violence in their families, and many have used drugs.
Health Minister Tim Yeo promised the report would not be left to gather dust. The Government expected urgent action from local authorities, he said last night.
CHANGING THE SYSTEM
THE report recommends that all children’s homes should:
* Publish plans which identify children’s needs and means of meeting them;
* Review management arrangements for appraising and supervising staff;
* Change, where necessary, the channels for hearing complaints;
* Introduce personal development contracts for employees and probationary periods of around 12 months for new staff;
* Ensure better checks on applicants for posts;
* Institute an audit of the education service for children in care;
* Bring in a support system for staff with outside independent counselling.
Twenty-nine of the inquiry’s 83 recommendations are devoted to ways of tightening staff selection.
February 5th, 1993
Linda Jackson, ‘TOP QC TO FIGHT FOR RELEASE OF SEX OFFENDER’
The lawyer who handled the successful appeals of the Birmingham Six and Judith Ward is set to fight for the release of one of the most notorious child sex offenders. Michael Mansfield QC, a pivotal figure in several cases involving miscarriages of justice, will represent Frank Beck in an appeal against his convictions. Beck, the 50-year-old former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes, is serving five life sentences after being convicted of sexually and physically abusing youngsters and staff in his care between 1973 and 1986. He has already been given leave to appeal against the sentences delivered in November 1991 following an eleven-week trial. He was found guilty of 17 charges including four counts of buggering children under 16 and of raping a girl. Last week solicitors acting on his behalf applied for leave to appeal against all the convictions on the grounds that vital documents were not disclosed. They expect to hear whether leave has been granted within the next two months. News that Mr Mansfield is taking on the case has been seen as giving a great spur to the appeal. It comes just three days before the publication of a highly critical report into the running of the county’s children’s homes. Mr Mansfield has achieved a high profile in several legal causes celebres. Last year he acted for Miss Ward who successfully appealed against her 18-year-old convictions for three IRA explosions. He argued that non-disclosure of a “wealth” of material lead to her wrongful conviction. He was also involved in the case of the Tottenham Three – who, in December 1991, had their convictions for the murder of Pc Keith Blakelock in the Broadwater Farm formally quashed by the Court of Appeal.
February 6th, 1993, Saturday
‘Beck appeal QC’
Michael Mansfield QC, who handled the successful appeals of the Birmingham Six and Judith Ward, is to represent Frank Beck, 50, former head of three Leicestershire children’s homes, in an appeal against his convictions for child sex offences. The report of the inquiry into the case will be published on Monday.
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.