Report #8: Police Matters

This report (Report #8) is the eighth of a series of ISN themed responses to the Sarah Morgan review. In these reports Islington Survivors Network present a challenge to the findings of Sarah Morgan QC

“That evening Stewart and I felt very tired and became very emotional together in a pub. We and our sources had by now given evidence of sexual abuse and child prostitution to two inquiries and spent hours with the police. What more would it take?”

Fairweather E (1998) Exposing the Islington children’s homes scandal: a journalists view in Hunt G (1998) Whistleblowing in the social services. London: Hodder p34

“A common problem when dealing with a paedophile ring is being out of one’s depth. With certain approaches, investigators may fail to realise what is going on and deal with abuse as a mistakenly single offence.. unless we understand how organised abusers work we will continue to respond in the time honoured ad hoc manner that has characterised our responses to date.”

Gaspar R and Bibby P (1996) How rings work in Bibby P (1996) Organised Abuse. Hants: Ashgate Publishing

“.. these victims are deliberately chosen in a sophisticated and deliberate manner. Responses therefore need to deal with organised abuse as organised crime. The police need to treat it as they deal with other organised crime namely with specialist teams.”

Bibby P (1996) Definitions and recent history in Bibby P (1996) Organised Abuse. Hants: Ashgate Publishing

Sarah Morgan ‘perplexed’ by Dr Liz Davies’ efforts to contribute meaningfully to any police investigation of organised abuse

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018: 17.26

Liz Davies had provided Morgan with information relating to her work with police since the 90s (see Report#2) and developments in recent years

“The first meeting ISN had with Islington council was in May 2016. I have referred many people of concern to the LADO [Local Authority Designated Officer with responsibility for the investigation of allegations of abuse within the ‘children’s workforce’.] Since May 2016, I have referred a number of cases to Islington police prior to the involvement of Operation Winter Key in September 2017 whose officers took over the police lead from Islington and responded to survivors on a case by case basis. Operation Winter Key have interviewed some Islington survivors but their remit is sexual abuse within the London area so very few are within their remit. 

In relation to alleged and known perpetrators and possible criminal and/or protective action we have made very little progress. I will not agree to survivors being interviewed in each area where abuse took place (in some cases 6 or more authorities) or being interviewed by Winter Key regarding sexual abuse and by Islington or another police authority for other crimes such as physical abuse or neglect. The police response is fragmented and does not allow for intelligence to inform an organised abuse investigation across authorities and countries. I carry the burden of knowledge of many unresolved child protection cases where the abusers may still be targeting children.”

Liz Davies report for Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.18:15.3

“Winter Key will only work at a non-intelligence level. So the way I’ve worked with police over the years was out of the window. They don’t want any background. They don’t want anything from the 90s that matches with what I know in the 2018’s. So if a survivor tells me something about someone that I’ve got documents about from the 90s they [Winter Key] don’t want them.

They say ‘bring us the victim and we will do an interview and we will take it forward if we can’. .. If its sexual and if its London. Hardly any of the survivors .. fit that. 

Winter Key wanted to know how many abusers I knew about. I said this could take days. But I endlessly reported through all the years to Operation Fernbridge, Operation Fairbank, National Crime Agency, CEOP – you name it.. so it’s not for want of reporting… 

I’m used to strategy meetings before you interview someone, as social worker and police and you would decide whether or not you’re going to progress to what was the ABE [Visually Recorded Interview]. They don’t do that anymore. I said ‘well I would come and I would present everything I know to you and then I would leave and you can make your decisions.’ So when I refer someone who I believe is currently putting children at risk, and I have a long list of those, then it goes to the LADO [Local Authority Designated Officer] and the LADO says ‘oh we haven’t got any record of them ever working in Islington. There’s no pension records, no this, no that, so we can’t do anything’.  I say, ‘Yes you can. You can hold a strategy meeting. Then I can tell you in a formal statutory forum everything I know and I can share it with you for the current protection of children’. They don’t do it. So its not happening. In the past we would have established first whether the person is alive or dead, whether we can identify where they are now etc. They [Winter Key] don’t do that. They interview. So I’ve sat with survivors pouring out their stories and then been told perhaps months later ‘oh the person is dead’. That to me is the height of cruelty and bad practice.”

Dr Liz Davies interview transcript with Sarah Morgan QC 7.3.18

Morgan cited an article in the Islington Gazette but didn’t read the full article which left her without the ‘detail’.

If Sarah Morgan had read the entire Islington Gazette article she would have learnt that the enquiries by 2 police officers was brought to a close as the police response passed from Islington police to Operation Winter Key. The enquiry was not ‘closed without prosecution’ but was simply closed and responsibility transferred as was explained in Liz Davies’s report to Sarah Morgan QC.

Sarah Morgan QC Review 2018:17.17

“There are more than two dozen names that could hold the key to prosecutions and boxes of papers that may contain evidence…. Emma Youle asks why police are not bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Yet only a handful of abusers were ever exposed, much less brought to justice.

Today, in significant new developments on the historic scandal, the Gazette can report:

Islington Police began a new investigation in October to work towards criminal prosecutions, offering hope that after decades perpetrators of abuse might be tried in court,

Two officers met Dr Liz Davies, an original whistleblower and a key source of information on the scandal, to begin work;

Together they created a secret list of 26 names of alleged abusers who may have committed grave crimes against children;

But shortly afterwards the Islington police investigation closed without warning , again dashing the hopes of survivors.

The Gazette understands the probe was shut down after involvement from Operation Winter Key – the Metropolitan Police team linked to the national independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)”

Islington Kids’ Home Scandal: Why did police pull plug on new child abuse probe, Islington Gazette, 18.5.17

Timelines: Reconstructing the childhood narrative

Timelines are a way of bringing together all the file evidence and survivor accounts in order to make an analysis of the information. Every entry on file is listed in date order on the timeline – this includes social work records, child in care reviews, medical reports, finance forms, letters, school reports and management responses etc. The files are not kept in chronological order so the timeline helps ISN understand what happened when and who was involved.

Once completed, ISN survivors add their account and comments into the file timeline. Psychologists at the Islington Survivors Trauma Service, based at St Pancras Hospital, describe this process as, ‘reconstructing the childhood narrative’. This is important because there are always many differences between the file content and the survivor’s account of what happened. From the timelines ISN collates the information including about;

  • the reasons why children were taken into care
  • what happened in the different children’s homes and other placements
  • allegations of abuse
  • those alleged to be responsible for abuse
  • those who were aware of the abuse
  • who listened to the child/ children and acted to protect them
Example of an ISN timeline

ISN has completed over 60 timelines from survivor’s accounts and file evidence. These timelines allow for analysis of allegations of all forms of non-recent (previously referred to as ‘historic’) abuse and from this basis ISN is making referrals to the police and to the LADO.

The police response in 2019

Islington over 30+ years ran 48 homes and many were outside London. The Metropolitan Police ‘Safeguarding Investigations team’ in Islington are currently considering how to work positively with ISN to consider the best way forward in order to achieve a coordinated and effective response to allegations of abuse of children in the care of Islington Council between the 60s and 90s – in children’s homes, foster placements, boarding schools and secure units. ISN are keen for this work to progress without further delay.

To be continued …..

Report #9: Pro-Paedophile Activism in 1970s and 1980s Islington

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