Gordon Brown has said an inquiry into the case of a father who raped and physically abused his two daughters over nearly 30 years could spark reform of the child protection system.
Brown made the call at prime minister’s question time yesterday, after the father was given 25 life sentences for the crimes at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday. It was revealed his daughters had been made pregnant 19 times, with seven babies surviving. They also suffered a number of miscarriages and terminations.
Sheffield local safeguarding board has launched a serious case review into the abuse, which will be chaired by Professor Pat Cantrill, a former senior civil servant at the Department of Health.
Abuse revealed to social worker
The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested in June after one of his daughters revealed the abuse to a social worker. However, it transpired in court that police, health and social services had been alerted to problems with the family on numerous occasions dating back to the mid-1970s.
He was able to evade the authorities by constantly moving home and the case puts a question mark over a number of services in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Addressing the House of Commons yesterday, Brown said that the public wanted to know how the man was able to conduct the abuse over such a long time without intervention from public services. He added: “If there is a change to be made in the system and if the system has failed, we will change the system as a result of the inquiries.”
His comments come with the child protection system in England already under intense scrutiny, following the Baby P case.
Jayne Ludlam, director of Sheffield Council’s children and young people’s specialist services, said the serious case review would look at the involvement of all relevant agencies to the case including those outside Sheffield. She added: “It is hard to comprehend how this could happen in today’s society.”
She said the council and its partners had been providing support to the sisters since June.