Edinburgh secure unit scandal: Call for emergency meeting to discuss latest allegations

An emergency meeting of the city’s education committee has been requested after claims an investigation into Edinburgh’s secure accommodation for young people ordered in 2017 on the authority of council chief executive Andrew Kerr never took place.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 4:55 am

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A damning report on the secure accommodation last month, prompted by a whistleblower alert, found “illegality, maladministration and injustice” in Edinburgh Secure Services (ESS), the section of the council’s children and families department responsible for the secure units.

Now Edinburgh Tory group leader Iain Whyte has formally called for the education committee to meet before next Thursday’s local elections to discuss allegations in the Sunday Post that the council allowed a vulnerable young woman to live with a care worker suspected of sexual abuse and that an investigation ordered into ESS after care worker Gordon Collins was convicted of grooming and abusing children at two homes never happened.

Councillor Whyte said: “We need to get to the bottom of this. There is a whole failure of accountability going back a number of years to implement absolutely necessary changes and I want to know that that culture has been rooted out.”

The Tories said standing orders allow a quarter of the members of any committee to call an emergency meeting. There are three Conservatives on the 11-member education committee.

The Sunday Post story said last month’s council report revealed that in 2017 the then head of social work Michelle Miller told service managers an investigation was to be ordered, on the authority of the council’s chief executive, Andrew Kerr, into the culture of the care service and what was a “serious and extremely complex” situation. She said an independent organisation was to be commissioned to carry out the investigation but, the report notes, this never happened.

The paper also said staff were aware a girl under social work supervision was living with residential care worker Kasia Koziara, who was investigated for a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Koziara, who was in her 30s, was sacked by the local authority in 2016 and removed from the register in 2018.

The Tories are calling for an emergency meeting of the education committee before next Thursday's elections. Picture: Neil Hanna.

One social worker who emailed colleagues and senior managers to voice serious concerns about the situation said the girl’s perception was “we would rather she stay with someone we think is a paedophile”.

The girl allegedly told social workers: “You sent me to Kasia’s. You didn’t have any concerns when I was living there, you made out it was okay to go there, but all the time you were investigating her.

“You were bound by the law to look after me. You made my life a misery. Are you happy? For a looked after and accommodated child does it look like I’ve been looked after enough?”

Holly Hamilton, one of the children sexually abused by Gordon Collins, told the Evening News last month how the latest investigation into the city's secure accommodation found many of the same issues as the report on her own case 15 years ago. She said: “It just seems to be recommendation after recommendation, every ten years the same recommendations but nothing ever changes. How many generations of broken children does this system need to create?"

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