HC Deb 25 July 2000 vol 354 cc563-4W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what investigations his Department has conducted into allegations of child abuse at Hawksworth Hall; what the results of the investigations were; and what actions he proposes to take. [131968]

Jacqui Smith

The allegations of abuse at Hawksworth Hall were thoroughly investigated by the police and by child protection services in 1995. They concluded that there was not sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution. My Department subsequently considered the allegations, and as a result one former care worker was barred from working in relevant employment and placed on the Department's List 99.

We feel there are no grounds for any further action in the case of Hawksworth Hall, which closed in 1998. We are however fully committed to measures to safeguard children's welfare and protect them from unsuitable people. The Government recently published "Learning the Lessons," its response to "Lost in Care:" the Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974. This sets out many of the measures being taken to protect the welfare of children in residential schools, or in the care of local authorities.

The Protection of Children Act 1999 makes provision for a new list of people who are unsuitable to work with children to be kept by the Secretary of State for Health, and further measures to protect children from unsuitable people are proposed in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill.