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'BUNGLES THAT LET MONSTERS STAY LOOSE' - PUBLIC INQUIRY CALLS

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After yesterday's conviction of Rosemary West for the murder of 10 young women and girls, attention turns to the ro...
After yesterday's conviction of Rosemary West for the murder of 10 young women and girls, attention turns to the role of the authorities and the failure to intervene earlier.

All today's papers chart the history of apparent missed warning signs since the 1960, or as The Sun puts it (p3) a chronology of 'bungles that let monsters stay on the loose'

Numerous contact between the Wests and social services, and incidents and complaints reported in hospitals, school, courts, the NSPCC and the police are charted, along with questions as to how children, particularly those formerly in care, can go missing even from school without inquiry, or without records being sent on or followed up.

The Tory MP for Gloucester Douglas French has called for an inquiry saying that one man at Gloucestershire CC social services - Brian Rice, deputy director from 1974 to 1980 and director from 1980 to 1988 - has 'many hard questions to answer,' reports The Times (p2).

Mr French said the department has been persistently warned about problems at 25 Cromwell Street and that it 'was quite extraordinary' that nothing strange had been noticed.

'We will not be fobbed off with a whitewash or a fudge. Plainly a public inquiry would be held because, no matter how skilful Rose and Fred West were at deceiving people, they should not have been able to dupe all those social workers who visited that house.'

Michael Honey, chief executive of Gloucestershire CC told The Times (p2):

'Whatever criticisms we make, it should be borne in mind that in the current state of knowledge and guidance, child protection services are not geared up to detective potential serial killers. We must resist judging the events of ten, 20 and 30 years ago with the benefits of hindsight.'

The Guardian (p1) highlights an independent report into the Wests' contacts with various authorities spanning 36 years conducted by the Bridge Child Care consultancy which largely exonerated the agencies involved but said there were lessons to be learned.

The NSPCC comes under fire after losing records of its contact with the family following reported assaults. The agency took no action after complaints were withdrawn.

Norman Warner, former director of social services for Kent CC, asks who failed the children of Cromwell Street? (Guardian p17).

He calls for an independent public inquiry as the only way to restore public confidence in the public agencies.

'The agencies in Gloucestershire will have an uphill struggle convincing the public and government departments that they have learned the lessons of Maria Colwell and Butler-Sloss in protecting children at risk of abuse,' he says.

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