Britain’s largest children’s charity has criticised police for failing to tell Hackney Council about child abuse allegations against a foster parent who was later jailed for raping schoolgirls in his care.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said police “should have passed on” the allegations and must ensure “information is shared” to protect children.
It comes after Jim Gamble, Chair of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board, called for police to review their policies, telling the Hackney Citizen there could “definitely” be children in the borough and across the country being “tucked into bed” by foster carers who are a risk to children.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council, which replaced the Association of Chief Police Officers last April, told the Hackney Citizen it will not be reviewing its policies as they are in line with Home Office guidance and the law.
But Hackney Council joined calls for better sharing of information, with its cabinet member for children saying the council would “press the police nationally on this issue”.
A serious case review by the safeguarding board chaired by Mr Gamble – himself a former senior police officer – concluded police failed on four occasions to tell the council about an anonymous allegation from 1999 – which was not investigated – that the foster father possessed child abuse images.
The man went on to foster 30 children over 14 years with his wife, before discovery of his rape and sexual assault of five schoolgirls in his care between 1998 and 2005. He was jailed in 2013.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Police should have passed on previous allegations made against this foster carer who would be required by law to undergo regular enhanced child protection checks.
“It’s vital that information is shared in order to protect children from harm – this is always the absolute priority.”
They added: “The vast majority of children entering foster care are provided with safe family placements but we must ensure that available intelligence is used to ensure that children are not harmed by those who care for them.”
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The police are important partners for local authorities when it comes to safeguarding children but it’s clear that something went tragically wrong in this instance.
“If the police receive reports involving foster carers or prospective carers, it is vital that this information is passed on to the local authority for them to consider alongside police colleagues.
“We will continue to press the police nationally on this issue.”