Oxford

Serious case review finds guardian abused two young children

Scales of Justice

A man with "no parental experience" was allowed to care for two young children whom he went on to sexually abuse, a report has found.

A serious case review found more could have been done to uncover the abuse of the children, in Oxfordshire between 2014 and 2015.

Serious criminal charges were brought against the guardian in March 2015, including one count of rape.

The report says agencies missed an opportunity to uncover the abuse.

The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB) published the findings of the serious case review on Wednesday, which began after a special guardian was imprisoned in November 2015 for multiple sexual offences against two children, including the rape of a child".

'Local authority made no enquiries'

The victims, known as Child A and Child B were both born with learning disabilities.

Child A, who was born in 2010, had been sent to foster carers and Child B, born in 2012, lived with their parents until being housed by special guardians in 2014.

The children's parents also suffer from learning disabilities, and could not care for the children.

The guardians, known as Mr K and Ms L in the report, expressed interest in taking the siblings in 2013.

Neither of the special guardians had experience of parenting but Ms L was distantly related through marriage to the mother.

The review added: "They almost drifted into the children's lives yet became their legal parents."

According to the OSCB report, day care providers "reported bruising but the local authority made no enquiries about" it.

Mr K claimed to Ms L that the bruises occurred in day care, therefore she did not raise the matter with authorities.

The review noted that "police too quickly withdrew from the investigation when there was still a clear possibility that the injuries were non-accidental."

Thames Valley Police said after consulting other agencies, a decision was made not to interview the special agencies.

In March 2015 Ms L had contacted Thames Valley Police after recording Mr K making violent threats to both children, as well as sexual comments and noises.

Mr K was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sexual and physical abuse of both children, as well as one count of rape against one of the children.

The report criticises Oxfordshire County Council, claiming staff showed a "lack of rigour" in determining whether the two siblings should live together.

The OSCB added: "Overall the desire for the placement to be successful inappropriately affected child protection processes."

Director of the county's children's services Lucy Butler said: "We fully accept the findings of the serious case review and have already made improvements to services in response to its recommendations.

"The man responsible had no background to suggest he posed a risk to children, and as the review clearly states, this abuse could not have been foreseen."