Mistakes admitted after Norfolk child, 5, left in care of paedophile

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's children's services department, accused of placing a child at risk by failing to prevent a convicted paedophile having unrestricted access to a five-year-old girl, has admitted mistakes were made.

And a Norfolk MP has said the council needs to carry out a full investigation into 'lapses' which meant a man who had recently served five years in prison, had been allowed to care for the vulnerable girl alone.

Minutes show the man attended a meeting about the girl's care in the presence of a social worker on April 10 last year. But the council admitted it was not until two weeks later, when the mother made an allegation that he had sexually assaulted her, that the authority discovered his history.

The mother, who lived in Great Yarmouth at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons, said: 'They're supposed to check on anybody who comes into my life and has access to my daughter - at no point did they tell me he was a sex offender or warn me about him. When they intervened, it was too late and I feel very lucky my daughter wasn't harmed.'

The paedophile was placed on the sex offenders register for life in 2008 for attacks on girls as young as seven over two decades.

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He re-established contact with the mother, who he was related to, in February last year.

The woman alleges the man sexually assaulted her on April 25, before taking her daughter on a shopping trip alone. She phoned social services and was told to call the police.

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Officers tracked him down after about an hour and established the girl had not been harmed. Two days afterwards, social workers revealed his history of abuse and claimed the mother must have been aware. She insists she had no knowledge.

The girl was initially taken into temporary care, but never returned. The police continue to investigate the mother's allegations.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said due to restrictions on what he could say because sharing details could lead to the child's identification, people could be left with a 'one-sided picture'.

But he said: 'At the meeting in question, called to consider the child's behaviour and welfare, no concerns were raised by the mother.

'The agency social worker, who no longer works for Norfolk County Council, regrettably took that introduction at face value.

'Our current practice would expect a more proactive and diligent approach to be taken than occurred in this instance.

'It was not until two weeks later, when the mother lodged a serious complaint against the man that his background became clear.

'It became apparent that he had been on the scene for several weeks, and during that time there were instances that should have given cause for concern to the mother.'

The council said the case did not meet the threshold for a serious case review as no harm was done to the child.

But Henry Bellingham, North West Norfolk MP said: 'This is a very serious lapse and what is needed is a full internal investigation.'

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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