Inquiry into Highate Wood paedophile case finds no ‘major failings’

Published December 9, 2014 by misty534

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An independent inquiry into the handling of a paedophile case at Highgate Wood School has found no “major failings”.

The inquiry, led by Haringey Safeguarding Children’s Board (HSCB), looked into the way in which the school, council and police dealt with the case of former PE teacher Andrew Adams, who was recently jailed for abusing a pupil in the 1980s.

Adams, 68, pleaded guilty to charges of abusing and indecently assaulting a pupil at Highgate Wood School  in the 1980s. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail in July this year.

Writing in his report on the findings, Sir Paul Ennals, independent chairman of HSCB, said the inquiry had indentified ways in which the response to the Adams case could have been improved.

The report praised the police for securing a conviction years after the abuse took place, but said the force needs to be more pro-active in making sure alleged abusers do not continue to put young people at risk once identified.

It also suggested police need to make decisions on whether to look for more victims or not clearer, and should ensure victims of abuse are helped find the necessary support.

Focussing on Haringey Council, Sir Ennals writes that the council’s strategy meetings were too informal at the time of the abuse, but that this has since changed.

He states that meetings must be properly minuted, that looking for more victims or witnesses should be clearly considered, and that “all relevant actions are taken to ascertain that an alleged perpetrator does not pose a threat to young people”.

It is noted that Highgate Wood School has had its current child protection policies praised by Ofsted.

Sir Ennals writes that schools across the borough must consider how their sex and relationship education could help protect children from “unwanted approaches from adults”, and that clear whiste-blowing and communications policies are in place.

In the report’s conclusion, Sir Ennals, said: “The current media focus on celebrity abuse from the past shows how out culture has moved on in many ways – some of what seems to have been commonplace 30 years ago is much rarer today.

“Yet the current public concerns about child sexual exploitation show how some historical crimes can find ways of resurfacing under new guises.

“By tackling the past, we can sometimes be helped in tackling today’s challenges”.

A spokesman for Haringey Council said:  “We welcome the LSCB’s review of the handling of these allegations of historic abuse and have taken on board the recommendations made in the report. Our thoughts remain with the victim in this distressing case.”

Councillor Liz Morris, Haringey Liberal Democrat children’s spokesman, said: “Sadly there will always be the possibility of similar cases in the future.

“Haringey must therefore apply the learnings from this review of events at Highgate Wood School so that the police, the council and local schools improve the handling of any future cases.”

Commenting on his report, Sir Ennals expressed gratitude to Andrew Adams’s victim for his “courage in coming forward” and his contributions to the inquiry.

The Independent is waiting for a comment from Haringey Police.

Aime Williams

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