Letter: Protecting children at risk of abuse

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Sir: In your article 'Children at homes 'abused in sex ring' ' (1 October), the headline and introduction claim that children from residential homes in Buckinghamshire were involved in a sex and crime ring. The fact that only one of the 11 young people said to have been involved was living in a council home at the time of the offences does not appear until later in the story.

You wrongly state that Buckinghamshire social services department conducted its own inquiry into the homes to establish how 'the children' had been able to participate in the ring and whether any staff were to blame.

There has never been any suggestion that social services staff were at fault in any way. In fact, it was social services staff who alerted police to the possibility that a number of children in the city might have become involved in sexual abuse. What followed was a joint investigation by police and social services.

Although it is true that a large number of children were interviewed, the majority were ruled out of inquiries. You claim that 'Buckinghamshire has never revealed its involvement in Operation Michigan before' but our press officers were making statements about this to the local press months ago.

You say that Buckinghamshire has announced a separate investigation into allegations of abuse in another residential home. This does not involve a home run by the county council.

May I repeat how very seriously Buckinghamshire County Council views any suggestion of abuse of vulnerable people. We are determined that we will continue to investigate any such allegations thoroughly and conscientiously in co-operation with police and will take responsible action to protect those at risk.

Yours faithfully,

AUDREY BAINBRIDGE

Chairman

Social Services Committee

Buckinghamshire County

Council

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

2 October

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