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Victim of sexual abuse at Nottingham children’s home feels her suffering has finally been recognised as Government awards £22,000 compensation three decades on.

A 49-year-old woman has been awarded £22,000 damages from a Government compensation scheme – finally bringing official recognition of the sexual abuse she suffered when at a children’s home more than 30 years ago.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a resident at the notorious Beechwood children’s home in Mapperley, Nottingham, in the 1980s, when aged 13 and 14.

The home was subject to a major police investigation in 2011 and then a subsequent Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in Nottingham care facilities.

That investigation last year concluded that Beechwood had been “riddled with abuse” from the late 1960s to the late 1980s.

As part of the wider investigation into care under ‘Operation Equinox’, more than 900 allegations of historic sexual or physical abuse were made across more than 20 children’s homes and other institutions in Nottinghamshire between the 1950s and 2000.

More than 340 people came forward to say they had been abused and more than 270 suspects were identified.

Both male and female former residents described being routinely sexually abused by members of staff and being too afraid to report it, the inquiry was told.

A number of former staff members were handed lengthy jail terms for crimes including rape, indecent assault, child cruelty and indecency with children.

Damages awarded through Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has now awarded the former resident of Beechwood children’s home £22,000 damages, after her case was made by Hudgell Solicitors.

The woman had been advised to seek legal help by the police after disclosures of sexual abuse by victims during police investigations, which led to a number of criminal convictions.

“I wasn’t going to pursue compensation for what happened to me at Beechwood, as it somehow felt like dirty money to me, but my family and children, who have seen me suffer so much, urged me to do it,” said the woman, who now lives in London.

“My life has been hard. It has been so hard to live with what happened in that home, hard to live with what I always knew would still be happening to other children after I left at the age of 15, and so hard to try and put out of my mind. It has been there every day.

“I was made to take part in peep shows and I was prostituted and regularly raped as part of a sex ring. As a child you can’t escape that sort of stuff and you are living in fear. You do what you are made to do and men would just routinely come in and abuse all the girls.

“I’d had troubles with being abused in my family life before going to the home.

“The partner of my aunty would abuse me regularly, and that is why I went off the rails and misbehaved and missed school. That is why I went into the children’s home. I thought I’d be protected there. Instead I was just walking into another nightmare.”

The woman says she is proud of how she has managed in life despite all she went through.

“I’ve struggled all my life but I am proud that I have held down jobs, from factories and canteens, and I have raised three children who have all turned out into good people. I’ve never been in trouble with the law myself either.

“I moved to London when I was 23 and my daughter was two-years-old as I had to get away from Nottingham. It was the best thing I ever did for me and my children, as I linked Nottingham with everything bad that had happened. I didn’t want my kids there. I worried something would happen to them too given all that had been allowed to go on in the city.

“When my mother died in 2008 I really struggled as I found I had nobody to talk to. I struggled again and most days I would think about what happened to me and what happened to many other children who were at those homes after me. I wondered how many more had suffered.”

When police knocked on her door in 2014 following the investigations, she says it ‘changed her life’ for the better.

“It was amazing when the police knocked on my door, my life changed for the better. Finally these horrific people were being held to account and the suffering I and so many others had been through was being recognised,” she said.

“That is how it feels now, having come to the end of the compensation claim. It is further recognition of what I suffered. That seems very important. It feels like the end to it in a way.

“The money isn’t important but it has been helpful. I’ve never had savings. In fact I had some debts that I have paid off. I have been able to give my children some money, and I am putting money towards my parents’ gravestone.”

Solicitors say more victims could still seek compensation

Stacey Flegg, of Hudgell Solicitors, represented the woman in her claim to the CICA, and says her case highlights the support available to those who have suffered, but not directly seen their attackers convicted relating to crimes against them.

“In our client’s case her abusers had not been directly named or faced criminal charges relating specifically to offences against her, but following the investigations and inquiry into what happened at the care home, there was clearly enough evidence for the CICA to accept she had been a victim of abuse and offer compensation.

“The claim included being a victim of sexual abuse for more than three years including touching under and over clothing and penetration.

“Given the huge scale of the offending and abuse which has been highlighted in the investigations into care facilities, it is perhaps likely that there are still many people like our client who have not come forward to make claims.

“Our client said she felt it was ‘dirty money’ when it was first suggested to her, but it is not at all. It is there to support people who have been through the very worst of times through no fault of their own.

“Such crimes can have a devastating impact on lives, and very substantial compensation awards can quite rightly be awarded, especially in cases where it is clear there has been long term, serious psychological impact.”

Last year Nottingham City Council apologised to the victims of abuse, admitting it had “failed” children entrusted to its care.

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14/06/2019 No Comments

Appeal for information as legal action considered against West Midlands Police relating to paedophile officer who abused boys

Allan Richards | Paedophile Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison

A solicitor representing a victim of a paedophile police officer who abused his position to sexually exploit young boys says the trials which saw Allan Richards jailed for 22 years may have only ‘scratched the surface’ in terms of identifying victims.

The former West Midlands Police Sergeant, who was also a Scout master, was jailed last year after being found to have committed 40 offences against boys and young men in crimes dating back to the 1970s.

Seventeen boys had been victims of abuse or exploitation, with his offences including rape and indecent assaults.

Over two trials, Birmingham Crown Court heard how he had sexually abused boys at police stations, at scout camps, in swimming pools, in a park, at his home, and other locations.

‘Highly likely victims have still not come forward’

Cyrilia Davies Knight, civil liberties specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, believes it is ‘highly likely’ there were more victims than those who formed part of the criminal cases against Richards.

It comes as she is currently supporting one of his victims and is preparing a civil legal case against West Midlands Police on his behalf.

“We have serious concerns that there may still be many people out there who were victims of Richards and have still not come forward. That means they are still to receive any form of relevant and probably much needed support, and are still coping alone,” said Ms Davies Knight.

“It was only last year that officers from West Midlands Police contacted our client and told him some other victims had come forward. He has, quite understandably, been badly affected by what happened to him and it has had a huge impact on his life to this date, and will do for the foreseeable future.

“He was contacted as the police had put Richards’ details through the database to see which cases he had worked on. That is when our client’s name came up. This is far from a complete record of the young boys Richards came into contact with though over many years.

“The judge in court described him as someone who would have been a predator for the whole of his adult life, and therefore someone who would likely find a way to get to young victims in many ways, such as through his position as a scout leader.

“It is clear from supporting our client that Richards relied on his position as a police officer to frighten his victims and intimidate them into never speaking out. Our client would not have come forward. He simply didn’t feel he could.

“Many people would also perhaps feel unable to come forward and face the trauma of giving evidence in court as our client, and others, so bravely did.

“It is likely that the trials may have only have scratched the surface in terms of identifying the true number of victims.”

Police officer told abuse victim he’d ‘make his family disappear’

The victim represented by Ms Davies Knight had been introduced to Richards having already been the victim of a rape.

Rather than providing support in his role as a police sergeant, Richards abused him and threatened to ‘make his family disappear’ if he did not do as he said.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “The abuse was something I had locked away inside for almost 20 years. I couldn’t talk about it and it was very difficult giving evidence for the trial.

“In many ways, when the police contacted me, I wasn’t shocked to find out there had been more victims, I probably expected it. I just didn’t expect him to be caught as I assumed people would have been the same as me. He was a police officer and I was afraid of him and afraid of saying what he had done.

“I am glad I gave evidence but others may have not felt able to come forward. It’s not easy to deal with and I don’t trust many people now. You lose trust, and again, that can stop you from speaking out.”

Police force investigated as opportunities to prevent abuse may have been missed

Richards was convicted last October of carrying out nine indecent assaults against six boys aged 11 to 15 at camps, swimming baths and other locations between 1982 and 2003.

He had already been found guilty earlier in the year of a further 31 sex offences against other boys, including two rapes, going back to the 1970s.

It was revealed he had avoided prosecution after being questioned when allegations first surfaced in 2000. He also avoided prosecution when allegations resurfaced in 2004.

At that time he had his Scout leader’s warrant removed by the Scout movement following allegations of sexual abuse against a boy at a camp.

He was only ‘removed from public contact’ by West Midlands Police however, and was then told he would not be prosecuted in January 2005.

He remained with the force until he retired in 2011, but a fresh investigation was launched in 2014 when another victim came forward, leading to his convictions.

The force referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in May 2015 having admitted opportunities may have been missed to prevent Richards abusing other victims after the 2004 allegations came to light.

During a search of his home in Thaxted Road, Tile Cross, Birmingham, detectives found a list of 35 male names Richards had a ‘sexual interest’ in.  They also discovered diaries where Richards kept details of ‘touching’ boys as well as describing their underwear.

Ms Davies Knight added: “The trial and subsequent sentence handed out to Richards may have brought some form of closure for some of his victims, but it is certainly believed there may be more victims police have been unable to trace, and therefore more people who will have had no form of closure, and no support at all.”

In total, Richards was found guilty of two rapes, 20 indecent assaults, seven cases of sexual activity with a child, three instances of gross indecency, one count of inciting sexual activity with a child, one charge of a serious sexual assault, five counts of misconduct in public office, and one charge of voyeurism.

For more information on civil liberties and claims relating to police complaints, click here.

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24/07/2017 No Comments

Government Agency Refuses Compensation to Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

ses to give child sexual abuse victims compensation

Children as young as 12 are being refused compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), on grounds that they “consented” to their abuse.

The CICA has refused to provide compensation to around 700 young victims of sexual abuse since 2012, with blocked payouts ranging from £1,000 to £44,000. The information was revealed as part of a Freedom of Information request by a group of charities including Victim Support, Liberty and Barnardo’s, who have since written to Justice Secretary David Lidington, challenging the CICA to review guidelines on how it deals with sexual abuse cases.

Despite it being a criminal offence to engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 16, charities fear that the rules around payouts are being wrongly interpreted by the CICA, with underage children not receiving compensation because they supposedly consented to the abuse they suffered.

The charity coalition is demanding that the CICA change its rule on sexual abuse so that no child under the age of 16 is denied compensation. They rightly argue that consent through fear or lack of understanding isn’t consent, and that sexual abuse is a result of grooming and manipulation.

According to a recent YouGov poll, two thirds (66%) of people think the rules surrounding payouts to child victims of sexual abuse should be changed, and that refusal on grounds of “consent” should be scrapped in the case of sexual abuse of minors.

Speaking to the Independent, Martha Spurrier, director of human rights charity Liberty, said that it was a “disgrace” that the CICA would even imply that children had consented to their abuse, let alone deny them compensation. She said that the government “must urgently change these guidelines”, words echoed by Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan.

In one case where the CICA refused to pay compensation, a young girl aged 14 was repeatedly raped by a gang of older men, only to have her compensation claim quashed because she had reputedly “not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts”. This verdict came after the men responsible were jailed for 30 years — raising questions about how the CICA can justify its decisions on cases of child sexual abuse.

CICA Harming Young Abuse Victims, Not Helping Them

Under current guidelines, the CICA is harming young victims of sexual abuse by denying them compensation for the traumatic and life-changing abuse they’ve suffered. Not only are children missing out on monetary payments which are vital in securing aftercare and support, they’re effectively being shunned by a system designed to protect them — leaving them vulnerable, demoralised and with nowhere left to turn.

The complexities of consent have no place in cases of sexual activity relating to minors. Echoing the comments of Miss Spurrier, it’s a disgrace that young victims should be questioned on the circumstances of their abuse — particularly by a government agency whose sole purpose is to secure compensation for “blameless victims” of violent crime and abuse.

We stand beside the charity coalition in calling on the CICA to review its guidelines in relation to child sexual abuse, and hope that by further publicising the issue we can help to get justice for the 700 young lives left in turmoil by the agency’s unjust conclusions.

If your child was refused compensation by the CICA after suffering sexual abuse, our experienced criminal injury solicitors can help you appeal the decision. For more information, visit our CICA compensation claims page or take a look at our guide on what to do if your application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is turned down.

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20/07/2017 No Comments

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