Camden Council guilty of ‘maladministration’ in tragic child sex abuse case

A TAXI DRIVER was hired to transport vulnerable children to and from school in Camden despite having a string of convictions for sex abuse against children abroad, a report by the Local Government Ombudsman finds today.

The man’s criminal record only came to light after a boy, who he drove to school, complained to his mother that he had been sexually abused by him.

When police and social services investigated the case in November 2008, they found that the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) had not picked up on the man’s convictions abroad. Instead, the CRB gave him an enhanced certificate which allowed him to work with children.

However, in her report, Local Government Ombudsman Jane Martin highlighted failures in Camden Council’s safeguarding practices at the time, with regards to its outsourcing of transport services.

She ruled that there was no evidence that an employment history of the man was obtained or references taken up by the taxi company and that the council was guilty of maladministration.

Ms Martin wrote: “I consider the council’s inadequate procedures constituted maladministration…

“The complainant will always be left with some doubt that the council could have done more to protect her child.”

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Ms Martin ordered Camden Council to pay the woman �1,000 in compensation plus �200 in recognition of her time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.

She added: “By doing so, she has brought important issues into the public domain.”

In her report, the Ombudsman confirmed that the council had already made improvements to its procedures and monitoring of contracts, which she otherwise would have listed as recommendations.

A spokeswoman for Camden Council said: “This is a tragic case and we would again like to express our apologies to the family and offer them our continued support.

“Our contractor did check that this man was cleared to work with children but unfortunately faults with the CRB system meant that his previous crimes were not recorded and his CRB checks confirmed that his record was clean.

“There is important learning here for all the agencies involved with children and we have been working with our contractors on recruitment and awareness to ensure that everyone has the tools and the confidence to flag up when things don’t seem right. It is right that this man has finally been brought to justice and vital that the police investigate how this happened to ensure that it can never happen again.”

The taxi driver, who is not named in the report, was handed an indeterminate prison sentence, with a recommendation that he should serve two and a quarter years, when the case went to court.

For more on this story see the Ham&High on Thursday (February 3).