Camden Council says sharp rise in child abuse allegations may be down to ‘Jimmy Savile’ effect
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Council investigators have received nine allegations of historic child abuse in Camden in the past year, including one of sexual abuse which allegedly took place in a children’s home 55 years ago.
A council paper reveals the full extent of allegations against adults who work with children in the borough - with 120 referrals concerning recent behaviour by those with professional access to children in the past year, up from just 33 referrals in 2009-10.
Of these 120 referrals, 31 were considered serious enough for police involvement.
All nine of the historic allegations made in the last year were passed to the police – with papers revealing that criminal investigations are ongoing in two of these cases.
One investigation of an allegation from 35 years ago could not be completed because, the report says: “In spite of robust attempts by both the police and social workers, it was not possible to identify the alleged perpetrator.”
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Seven of the historic allegations concern abuse which allegedly took place in the past decade – but of the nine historic allegations made in total, only one has so far resulted in prosecution.
Three cases were dropped due to lack of evidence, and another two after the young adults who were allegedly victims decided not to give statements.
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The paper, produced by Camden Safeguarding Children Board, states that in the majority of cases of historic abuse, attempts had been made by the alleged victims to report the abuse at the time – but they had not been listened to.
The author of the report says that while they cannot be sure of the reasons for the leap in referrals over the past five years, this may partly be because more victims are coming forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile enquiry of 2012-13.
But the report says the majority of complaints are “not substantiated” and that concerns are often found to relate to “a misunderstanding between the adult and the child, or the child was finding it difficult to accept the authority of the adult.”
A significant number of referrals relate to concerns raised over an adult’s behaviour in their private life, according to the report.
The council was unable to comment on the two cases where criminal investigations are ongoing, but said in a statement: “Safeguarding children is a priority. We follow the requirement for councils to have a Local Authority Designated Officer whose role is to ensure any concerns or allegations made about adults working with children are properly and thoroughly investigated.”