Ofsted turns sights on children's home at centre of Rochdale sex abuse ring
Mr Loughton said he expects Ofsted to use all of its enforcement powers on failing homes
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 16 May 2012
The privately-owned children's home accused of failing to protect a victim of the Rochdale sex abuse ring is being investigated by standards watchdogs.
Inspectors turned up unannounced at the single-occupancy home which is now part of a group owned by an Anglo-American private equity company.
The education watchdog Ofsted, which is responsible for standards in care homes for children, is also "reviewing" its inspection plans for other homes in the same group. After the conviction of nine Asian men last week for the grooming and sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rochdale, it emerged that one victims was the sole resident of a home in the town billed by its owners as offering "intense and individual" care costing £250,000 a year. In reality, the girl regularly went missing and during this time was sexually exploited by men.
The Green Corns home, one of 30 of that name operated across north west England, was part of a wider children's homes provider owned at the time by 3i, a private equity company. Shortly before the conclusion of the Rochdale trial, 3i sold the group to Advanced Childcare Ltd, another specialist care provider which is owned by another private equity company, GI Partners.
The inspection of the home, one of 18 Green Corns "solo care" homes in Rochdale, was announced by Children's Minister Tim Loughton, who is under pressure to clear up the chaotic system which has seen some homes fail to keep tabs on the young people in their care.
He said: "Over the course of many years, children in care have been repeatedly and disproportionately targeted by abusers and it is an issue that we need to tackle urgently."
Mr Loughton added that he expected Ofsted to use "all its enforcement powers" on failing homes, which include a sanction of closure.
The Green Corns home at the centre of the Rochdale allegations provided a staff of six to look after the victim of the grooming gang, who was 14 when she arrived in Greater Manchester.
At the time when the abuse was at its height, an Ofsted inspection found that it was not employing enough qualified staff and specific training was required on sexual exploitation.
Advanced Childcare, which had no involvement with Green Corns at the time of the abuse, last week said it was undertaking a "full review of policies, procedures and systems" at the homes.
Detective Superintendent Debbie Platt, who led the investigation which broke a sex abuse ring in Derbyshire, said the protection of vulnerable girls was failing because of a reluctance to break doctor-patient confidentiality. She said that she would like health professionals to share more information with police to identify victims earlier.
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