Do we have any choice? When we are told of abuse by other staff, if we do not do every thing in our power to bring it to light and try to get it dealt with properly, we become colluders with a cover-up. The cost is often high, as the following stories show, but the benefits are that each whistleblower contributes to changing the climate and culture of social care to challenge the acquiescence with malpractice of too many organisations- and standing against abuse cover-ups means giving a voice to the victims.
1. Alison Taylor was head of a children's home in Gwynedd, North Wales from 1982-87. She blew the whistle about abuse of children and police investigated in March 1986. In October, they reported to the Director of Social Services. Alison (not the alleged abusers) was suspended and later sacked in 1987. She continued to lobby the Welsh Office, the Secretary of State for Wales, the DSS Inspectorate, the Prime Minister and successive Health Ministers, the Home Office and the National Children's Bureau with her dossier of 75 allegations. However, it was only when she took it to HTV television company and they did a documentary, when the concerns about widespread abuse in children's homes in North Wales got taken seriously and the Waterhouse Tribunal on Child Abuse was set up (due to report in January 2000). 300 former residents made complaints of assault against 148 adults.
2. Carryn Williams, assistant Director for Caerphilly Social Services, blew the whistle when a former manager who had been dismissed for failure to protect children, got a new job working with vulnerable care leavers. He got the job with a housing agency after getting a reference from Caerphilly Council. Carryn told Tai Cymru, which oversees Welsh housing agencies, and she was sacked after those who wrote the reference complained. The manager she whistled on was awarded £14000 in a court settlement for having the housing job offer withdrawn.
3. Elaine Bowerman worked in a Warrington school for children with learning disabilities. she spent 10 years trying to get her union, Lancashire Council and the police about indecent assault and violence by Robert Boyle, but when she finally took her warnings to parents, she was sacked. Boyle was tried in 1997, but was only found guilty of lying. Only then did the court learn that he had been convicted 20 years earlier for indecent assaults. Lancashire has subsequently introduced a whistleblowers' procedure for child abuse: "Intimidation of any employees who report concerns will be regarded as gross misconduct."
4. Karen McKay demanded that children's complaints about Taff Vale Children's Home, Cardiff, be investigated. she lost her job, but her refusal to be silenced provoked a police inquiry that spread to 32 other homes in the area and a series of trials and convictions of abusive staff.
5. Susan Machin was a Senior Social Worker at Ashworth Special Hospital, Merseyside. She gave evidence to the inquiry into alleged abuse of patients. She lost her job, but was later vindicated by an industrial tribunal. Ashworth has since been reorganized, including senior staff losing their jobs. (Susan Machin was Chair of FtC until early 1999.)
6. Jane Jones, deputy matron of a nursing home in North Yorks, blew the whistle on the owner sexually abusing elderly residents. he was arrested as a result.
7. Colin Smart, Director of Sunderland Social services, was told that 3 ex-Sunderland care workers had been previously sacked for sexual assault on children. He attempted to investigate why the police had never been told. he discovered a series of other abuses in the home the staff had worked in, with some of the violence involved apparently approved by councillors as a form of control. Councillors and other chief officers tried to block Colin, who resigned in protest. Following failed police investigations, he compiled 5 volumes of evidence on abuse and suppression of evidence. The Council took High Court action against Colin to restrain him from publication of their confidential documents and he was gagged. Finally, ex-residents of the home forced Sunderland to set up an NSPCC investigation, apologize to them and the Police resumed their investigation.
8. Chris Clode and Janet Hover were managers in Flintshire, North Wales. When 2 children's home staff were found to have abused a child, the managers wanted staff to be disciplined. When Chief Officers refused to discipline the staff or stop them working with children, Janet and Chris were removed from their jobs. Later they were asked to be witnesses at the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal against Flintshire, who had to apologize to the Tribunal for preventing whistleblowing