Emergency meeting called to discuss Edinburgh care abuse allegations

The meeting was called following reports that a vulnerable minor was placed with a suspected sex offender.

Emergency meeting called to discuss care abuse allegations against Edinburgh City Council iStock

Allegations that Edinburgh City Council sent a vulnerable young person to live with a care worker accused of sexual abuse will be discussed at an emergency committee next week.

Conservative members of the education committee called for the meeting to be held following reports that an investigation into the culture of the council’s care services requested by chief executive Andrew Kerr five years ago never took place.

The meeting, set to be held on May 3, 2022, was called after a report in the Sunday Post at the weekend claimed council staff were also aware a girl in care was living with a social worker under suspicion of sexual abuse.

The claims come following revelations of “illegality, maladministration and injustice” and “serious and sustained failings” within Edinburgh Secure Services (ESS), which provides care and accommodation for youngsters aged 10 to 17 across Edinburgh, outlined in a report to councillors last month.

Although not released in full publicly due to the report’s “sensitive nature”, a council source familiar with its content said it revealed “physical and mental abuse of highly vulnerable and disturbed young people in the council’s secure units, going up to 2020”.

According to the source, it also highlighted a “toxic management culture” and referred to “the normalisation of abusive behaviour and inadequate investigation into complaints”.

Conservative group leader on Edinburgh Council Iain Whyte said the latest allegations were not mentioned in the recent ESS report.

He added: “We need to get to the bottom of whether that’s true and the other thing was about why a young person was placed with someone that was under investigation and why we don’t have systems to stop that.

“I think it would be unfair to leave it to a new council with a whole load of new and inexperienced councillors, when actually we should look at this and we should try to explain to the public what investigations have taken place and hopefully gain some reassurance that things are being looked at properly.”

Committee standing orders specify that an emergency meeting can only be held if at least a quarter of members are in favour. On Monday, a request for one from councillor Whyte was granted.

As it has to be held within eight days of the request, the special committee will meet remotely next Tuesday at 10am — less than 48 hours before polls open for the council elections.

It is anticipated the full agenda will be published the day before.

Councillor Whyte said: “The issues I want raised and my colleagues want raised is about investigations that all appropriate investigations did actually take place and what we’re doing about the fact that there have been investigations with strong recommendations and they don’t seem to have been taken forward in the past.”

He has asked for a report to be brought to the committee outlining why the minor was allegedly placed with a suspected sex offender, whether claims Mr Kerr’s request for an investigation into ESS in 2017 didn’t go ahead are true and how the accusations relate to the report shown to councillors in March.

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