Serious case review finds failings in how two child abuse victims were treated

Authorities have been criticised for their handling of the case of two children from Preston who suffered years of sexual and physical abuse.

Wednesday, 17th August 2016, 9:52 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:10 pm
Review: Council and police officials have been criticised over their handling of a case of two children, who were abused by their parents for years

Wigan Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) found numerous failings in how the two young victims were treated by Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

The family had moved to Wigan from Preston in 2003.

A serious case review said the children had suffered serious harm in their family home, including being sexually abused and neglected as well as exposed to domestic abuse, but one in particular was too scared of his attacker to tell the truth.

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Failings were identified in how the two victims were dealt with by social workers and police officers, with their voices not always being heard and their accounts of abuse not believed on some occasions.

The report expressed concern that one child’s attempts to retract allegations of sexual and physical abuse, including rape, were taken at face value, leading to her being seen as a liar and an attention seeker.

The review board suggested professionals should have known that attempting to take back allegations of abuse was common behaviour among victims.

Although the report found Wigan Council eventually took appropriate action to protect the children it also made 14 recommendations for the authorities to implement.

WSCB chair Paul Kingston said: “This is a desperately sad case and firstly our focus is on the victims and helping to support them.

“This review shows the importance of communication between different agencies to create a full picture of family life. The review also raises the importance of recognising the process that young people being abused might go through with repeated first and second hand disclosures and retractions.

“A number of recommendations were made in the report and I am satisfied the involved agencies have noted and taken steps to address the failings highlighted in this case.”

The family moved to Wigan from Preston in 2003 and had a steady stream of contact with agencies over the next decade which should have meant safeguarding the children, referred to in the report as Child F and Child G, was a priority.

The report said the authorities received various allegations that Child F was being sexually abused over a number of years, both from her and from other people.

Numerous claims of physical assaults against both youngsters were also made by different people.

The report says information sharing between social care and police was “poor” and heavily criticises GMP for not following up things.

Numerous recommendations were made to improve the way the authorities work together in Wigan, while GMP was told officers needed more training. The abuser was arrested in February 2014. Proceedings against him had previously been dropped through lack of evidence.

Jayne Ivory, assistant director for children and families at Wigan Council, said: “We are continuing to offer the children and their current carers support to help them recover from the abuse they suffered at the hands of their parents.

“We have already taken a number of steps to address the issues raised as a result of this review.

“Although we acknowledge that there were failings in this case I am confident that as a council we have learnt lessons and already addressed areas for improvement.

GMP was approached for comment but did not respond by deadline.