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Birmingham City Council ‘failed to investigate properly’ allegations against child rapist

Birmingham City Council ‘failed to investigate properly’ allegations against child rapist

🕔27.Aug 2013

Birmingham City Council and Ofsted have been criticised by an official review for failing to investigate properly concerns about inappropriate behaviour by a nursery worker who was jailed for raping a toddler.

Paul Wilson, who worked at the former Little Stars nursery in Nechells, was handed a life sentence after being admitting two charges of rape and 16 counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity as well as 25 charges of making indecent images and three of distributing images of children.

The nursery was managed by Wilson’s mother, although she had left by the time he started work in April 2008.

He was allowed to work for a short period without a current Criminal Records Bureau check, a Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board Serious Case Review found.

The report, published today, disclosed that complaints about Wilson taking children into the adult toilet and sitting them on his lap were passed to the city council but a proper inquiry was not held and no action was taken.

Birmingham Children’s Services has been under Government ‘special measures’ for four years after the safeguarding of vulnerable youngsters was declared inadequate by Ofsted.

In August 2010, Ofsted received and investigated with council an anonymous complaint detailing significant concerns about the Wilson’s relationship with a child and worries that the previous manager was aware but had taken no further action.

An investigation was held but the inquiry did not involve talking to Wilson.

Wilson’s offences came to light in August 2010 following a police investigation into claims by a 13-year-old girl that an unidentified male was trying to persuade her to take part in sexual activity over the internet. A computer belonging to Wilson was found to contain images of the abuse of a young girl at the nursery.

Twenty-three victims were identified, but Wilson and the police described the figure as a “vast under-estimate”.

The inquiry found it was clear that staff at the nursery as well as the council and Ofsted were aware that Wilson had formed a “special relationship” with the girl who was raped but took no action to investigate properly.

The inquiry concluded: “Parents should be able to expect that children in nurseries are cared for within environments where highly skilled staff are supported, both by their own management and external organisations, to focus on all aspects of the needs of children, including their need for safety from sexual harm. Sadly, this did not happen in this case.”

The inquiry also found:

  • Poor management within the nursery.
  • A failure on the part of Ofsted and the local authority to investigate properly concerns about the Wilson’s behaviour.
  • A lack of rigour and depth to inspection processes.

“The interaction of these factors resulted in a situation where there were missed opportunities to intervene earlier and prevent the continuation of abuse, both within the nursery and online. It was entirely fortuitous that the offending came to light via a route other than robust responses to concerns within the nursery.”

Jane Held, Independent chair of Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board said: “Responsibility for this awful abuse must, and does, lie with the perpetrator. He was clever, duplicitous and manipulative and took advantage of weaknesses in the system.

“Parents should be able to trust the people they leave their children with to ensure that children are properly protected. In this case there were unfortunately a number of weaknesses in the way that nursery was run and a number of opportunities to intervene earlier and prevent the continuation of abuse which were missed.

“There are three key lessons arising from this review. One is that those in charge of settings caring for children must ensure there are strong clear practices and systems to minimise the risk of abuse. The second is to listen to and ask about children’s experiences rather than just speak to adults.

“The third, and potentially the most important, is that safeguarding children is a job for everyone, and every single person who looks after or cares for children needs to know how to recognise when something is not right and what to do about it, and have confidence they will get the right response when they do act.“

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