Victims failed by the system

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A serious case review into the way allegations of child abuse made against a Clipstone couple were investigated has found their victims were failed.

Robert and Rita Oldham, aged 53 and 51, were sentenced to 20 years and six years respectively in February last year after pleading guilty offences including rape and indecent assault.

Passing sentence on the couple last year Judge John Milmo told them: “I have rarely come across such a catalogue of depravity.”

Now a Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) report shows allegations were made seven times by the three young girls, in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2012, before the Oldhams’ eventual conviction.

The report by Ruby Parry, a registered social worker with 33 years’ experience, states allegations made by two of the girls in 1997 and 2000 were discredited in the first case and retracted without any question in the second by social workers.

It reads: “The retraction of allegations was initially accepted without much question and no consideration was given to the reasons for these retractions, particularly around whether pressure was placed on the children to withdraw what they had said.

“(The Oldhams) were able to manipulate the professionals involved and the assessments of the children too readily reflected the view of them projected by the (Oldhams).”

The document states that in 2001 one of the girls reported sexual abuse against her and another by Robert Oldham but the examination was arranged to take place four days later and she retracted her complaint during that period.

The review’s analysis of failings by agencies such as Children’s Social Care (CSC) and the police points out that children were not interviewed on their own.

“In this context it is highly unlikely that the children would have spoken up,” it added.

Further analysis in the review states ‘there is repeated evidence that the children were not always listened to and that they were more likely to be believed when they retracted allegations than when they made them.’

Supt Helen Chamberlain, from Nottinghamshire Police, said there were a variety of reasons why a prosecution had not happened earlier.

She said: “The victims in this case were let down by a system which allowed the abuse to continue, and for that we offer our apologies.”