The London Borough of Camden has been severely criticised for
the way it dealt with allegations of sexual, physical and emotional
abuse at a residential special school for boys with emotional and
An independent inquiry, led by child protection expert Barbara
Kahan, found little evidence to support abuse claims, but said
Camden's handling of the issue at the time left senior staff
Camden education department took over responsibility for
Stockgrove Park in Buckinghamshire in 1990. Buckinghamshire social
services department became responsible for child protection
investigations in 1992, while Camden retained responsibility for
the school. However, there was little contact between them about
policies or procedures until May 1993, by which time the school was
in 'a state of crisis', says the report.
Camden closed the school in 1994, and a year later commissioned
the inquiry into claims by the head teacher that pupils had been
emotionally and physically abused before his appointment in
It also considered anonymous allegations, made while the school
was open, against the head teacher and his wife about 'unacceptable
practices'. The education department believed they were made by
members of staff, and instructed them to stop criticising. The
inquiry found no evidence against the head teacher or staff. But:
'silencing staff creates a dangerous environment and a culture in
which abuse of children can thrive,' it said.
Another member of staff was accused of sexually abusing pupils.
After a disciplinary hearing he was reinstated, but within two
months he was suspended again. This time the police were involved
and he was dismissed, although no charges were brought. Camden and
the police force are re-interviewing former pupils in connection
with that allegation.
By Natalie Valios