Lancashire County Council paid £1.3m in compensation to victims of abuse in authority's care in the five years

34 people who were victims of sexual abuse while in the care of Lancashire County Council facilities have been awarded compensation in the last five years.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 4:55 am

The authority has paid a total of £1,368,137 in the last five years, data has shown.

The largest payout was £400,000, awarded in March 2017, which related to abuse in 1976, while the lowest was £2,000.

The oldest case of abuse dated back to 1969, for which a payout of £22,500 was made in November 2018.

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The payments were over physical and sexual abuse

All of the data relates to people paid compensation either through a civil hearing or payments out of court, in connection with allegations of physical or sexual abuse by council employed care workers, such as those linked to the county’s children’s homes.

It covers settlements made in the years 2017 to 2021.

Further details about individual cases cannot be revealed as there are strict laws protecting the identity of victims of sexual crimes.

Today, a man who claims he was abused by a paedophile who went on to work for Lancashire County Council has spoken of his ordeal.

The 60-year-old was taken into care in a community home in Birmingham aged around 12 and alleges in the 70s the care worker, who would have been in his 30s, groomed him.

He recalls: “ My dad died in 1975 and my mum wasn’t the best mother.

“I started to commit crime and was taken into care, but things got worse there.

“For some reason he showed an interest in me and I was probably craving any sort of attention at that time.

“He would buy me cigarettes and shoes and sometimes it made me feel better about myself. He invited me to his home while his wife was out and that was the first time it happened.

“Attention was something I was lacking, I didn’t enjoy the abuse but I would endure that to get some attention.

“He’d come into the dorm at night before he finished his shift.”I’ll never understand until the day I die why I didn’t tell anyone. He had a good cover story as he was married with a child.”

His abuser moved to the Fylde in the late 70s and took up employment with Lancashire County Council.

By that time the youngster had spent his first time in youth custody after committing shoplifting offences.

He recalls: “ I had made bad choices. I thought if I got away from Birmingham my life would change.

“My family isn’t close and I had no one, so I felt my only option was to come to Lancashire where he was. He had divorced and was living in a bedsit in Lytham so I came to stay with him, aged 17, though I was still under a care order.

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“I felt there was nowhere else to turn. There weren’t a lot of options open to me.

“Birmingham City Council was concerned and someone from LCC even came to visit the address.

“It didn’t last long because he started trying to get into bed with me. I stole his car on a couple of occasions and the police were involved - but at that time no one at the police thought to ask why I was living with him or pick up what was going on.

“I still feel I’m partly to blame.”

The man didn’t see his abuser again until 1996 when he decided to travel to Lancashire to confront him.

He recalls: “ I wanted answers as to what makes you do that to a child - he just said he fell in love. I was a schoolboy when it started and he was in his 30s.”

The victim started to have counselling and in 2001 made a formal complaint to West Midlands police.

He recalls: “They didn’t investigate it - I think it was because I had a criminal record and he was seemingly an upstanding citizen. It was a really difficult time for me when no action was taken.”

But in 2003 Lancashire Police charged the worker, by now living in Preston, and his male partner with indecent assaults on another young boy.

The pervert, then 54, was convicted of indecency with a child and two charges of indecent assault and admitted six offences of making indecent images of boys and was given a three year jail sentence at Preston Crown Court.

The victim says: “At first it angered me because it made me think, does my situation not matter? I made a complaint in 2001 and by 2003 he’d been arrested and charged with other crimes.

“I’m divorced and have never been able to maintain a relationship with what happened to me.

“It has affected my life.”

The man decided to launch a civil claim via his solicitors against Birmingham Council.

It took five years before he was eventually awarded a £7,000 payout over the abuse allegations.

It is unclear if any of the payouts in the last five years relate to this individual.

In response to the compensation figures, Lancashire County Councillor Cosima Towneley, cabinet member for children and families, today said: “These cases span from 1969 to 2014, with the vast majority of cases in the 1970s and 80s.

“My heart goes out to each and every victim who has been failed by a system which should have been there to protect them.

“I would also urge anyone affected by this story to seek support from organisations like the NSPCC. It is never too late to report abuse.”

She added: “In recent years significant changes have been made to the way local authorities support children to ensure they are safeguarded at all times.

“In Lancashire the wellbeing of our children is always our first priority and we are dedicated to ensuring all our young people have the best start in life possible.”

*Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline, in confidence, on 0808 8005000.

Children seeking advice and support can call Childline on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk

If there are immediate safeguarding concerns to a child an adults works with you can call 0300 123 6720 or out of hours 0300 123 6722.

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