Once again the media is awash with reports of child abuse in care homes, focused this time on the borough of Lambeth, with accusations that care staff and councillors presided over a culture of cover-up.
According to the BBC, between 1960 and 1990 over 700 children were subjected to horrendous physical and sexual abuse, with paedophiles able to infiltrate themselves into care homes and the foster system without any proper checks or oversight. There are records of many complaints having been made, including from children as young as 5, alleging repeated and violent sexual abuse.
The exact scale will never be known – almost certainly the complaints recorded will be only the tip of a very large iceberg – and the Metropolitan Police now freely admit that they have let these children down. An inquiry last summer into five of the children's homes in Lambeth – Angell Road, South Vale Assessment Centre, the Shirley Oaks complex, Ivy House and Monkton Street – concluded that for three decades Lambeth council staff treated children as if they were worthless.
But perhaps most shocking of all is the sheer scale, as evidenced by one of the homes, Shirley Oaks, where 177 investigations were conducted into members of staff and 'connected individuals', accused of abuse by 529 former residents.
The sad truth appears to be that children most in need of care and compassion were left traumatised and scarred by ruthless predators, who purposefully used them to satisfy what can only be described as their perverted and deviant lusts. And those who should have helped and defended these children simply looked the other way.
This is far more than a failure to realise what was going on.
For years now, the reports of child sex abuse have been too frequent and widespread – too endemic – to ignore. Yet those in authority, charged with dealing with them, appear wilfully to have ignored the evidence. How else did people such as Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith – both now recognised as prolific, predatory sex offenders with clear links to paedophile networks and, in Jimmy Savile's case at least, an apparent taste for necrophilia – manage to indulge their perverted behaviours for so long?
With both men, it was claimed the establishment knew, but turned a blind eye in order to avoid inconvenience (see, for example, the 2020 article in the Manchester Evening News saying that Smith, and other high-profile MPs, were deliberately protected from investigation by their parties in order to avoid damaging gossip and scandal).
But is that really all it is – a desire to avoid trouble by otherwise blameless men and women who are simply trying their best? Or is there something more sinister at work? Are the networks behind these intermittent but depressingly repetitive scandals perhaps more extensive than we realise? Have the tendrils of corruption, like poison ivy, insinuated themselves around and into the highest echelons of power, so that the pillars on which our society rests have become rotten to the core?
For over a decade former Scotland Yard detective and whistle blower Jon Wedger has fought to uncover what he claims is systemic corruption and child abuse in the police. He says openly that sexual exploitation of children is 'in plain sight', yet quite deliberately nothing is done.
Similarly, Maggie Oliver, a former detective constable who led the investigation by Greater Manchester Police into child sexual exploitation, says openly that the police treated child victims with contempt, and then spent years trying deliberately to cover up their failures.
It would perhaps be easy to dismiss both as scaremongering sensationalists, were it not for the mounting tide of evidence now coming to light – across the country and seemingly affecting every level of society.
As it is, faced with the horrific testimony of victims, whose lives have been irredeemably scarred, it is hard not to conclude that for some reason the perpetrators of these depraved and evil crimes are being deliberately protected. This culture of protection must stop. There must be proper, fearless, and rigorous investigation into paedophile networks, and all must be held accountable.
Children are our future. They are vulnerable and deserve our care and protection. Most of all, they must not be used as objects to satisfy the depraved lust of adults, seeking to feed their perversion.
However dressed up, such behaviour is evil and in a civilised society should never be allowed. All children are precious, but perhaps children in care are especially so. Life has already dealt them a difficult hand, so we should cherish and help them all the more.
Rev Lynda Rose is founder of Voice for Justice UK, a group which works to uphold the moral values of the Bible in society.