Left scared, abused and all alone by Croydon social services
In two shocking cases Croydon Council’s social services department stands accused of ignoring parents’ desperate pleas for help, a Croydon Guardian investigation can reveal.
In the first harrowing incident, a mother whose nine-year-old son attempted to kill another child has been forced to take legal action to get social services to help her.
The mother, whose son was sexually abused for two years from the age of five by paedophile Paul Tupper, a former Croydon FC volunteer, went to a special educational needs tribunal against Croydon Council this week to force a risk assessment to be carried out on her son.
It is the only way, she claims, for social services to take her complaints seriously, even though he cannot be left alone with other children for fear he will sexually abuse them.
In the second, a mother claims Croydon social services washed their hands of her family after moving from another borough to escape the hands of her paedophilic partner.
Her family were rehoused from Kent after her 14-year-old daughter was abused by her 49-year-old boyfriend but social services refuse to get involved.
It comes as Croydon Council attempts to recruit an extra 60 social care staff to unburden existing staff of large amounts of case work.
A report to the cabinet noted social workers in Croydon have been steering clear of complex cases for fear of recriminations in the wake of the Baby Peter death scandal.
‘Please help my son’
At just nine-years-old Stephen* (not his real name) describes himself as “a monster”.
As he plays with a young Staffordshire terrier there is nothing on the surface to suggest the young, good-looking child is anything but a normal schoolboy.
But behind his upbeat persona lies a dark secret.
After suffering two years of terrible abuse at the hands of paedophile Paul Tupper, he has now become a sexual predator himself.
His 33-year-old mother fears her son has been so badly damaged he is a risk to other children and himself.
The mother-of-two, who lives in central Croydon, has been forced to keep the nine-year-old away from other children after he coerced a four-year-old boy into performing a sex act on him.
When asked about the incident he said he was trying to be like his abuser.
In summer last year, his mother had to intervene to stop him drowning a five-year-old boy when he lost his temper.
He is unable to cope with his feelings and is prone to outbursts of anger.
Despite this shocking history, social services have refused to carry out a risk assessment on the child so his mother can obtain a statement of special needs to get him into a school to help come to terms with his behaviour.
His mother moved to Croydon from Sutton in 2008 and has repeatedly asked for a core assessment to be carried out but Croydon Council kept delaying it.
In a letter to the mother’s solicitors on August 20, a lawyer for Croydon Council wrote it did not feel carrying out an “urgent risk assessment” during the August school holidays would “be beneficial in any way” and that the boy’s “current behavioural difficulties are to be expected given his history”.
The mother took the council to a special educational needs tribunal last week and will find out if she has won her case within 10 days.
She said: “I want to get him into a special needs school that can deal with his problems.
“I started contacting social services because [my son’s] problems were getting worse. He wanted to kill himself, he kept running away and jumped out of the window.”
The young boy’s bedroom is on the second floor. He also set small fires around the house and has violent temper tantrums.
Recalling one particularly violent episode she said: “He was swearing at me and smashing things up. I tried to get him to calm down but could not do it. He kept saying he was going to kill me and kill himself.
“I was desperate, I called social services begging for help. I told them I was struggling to cope. Their reaction was ‘Do you want us to come and take him off you?’ I told them I just needed some support. They never got back to me.”
The nine-year-old has counselling twice a week but his mother said he needed more support.
He has been beaten up and bullied at school, where he cannot be left alone with other children. He has tried to play sex games with his peers.
His mother said: “All I want, and what my son deserves, is the chance to be shown and helped how to be a nine-year-old boy.
“He will not get this in a normal school, already children think he is a freak because of how he acts. He needs to be shown how to act and learn what is right from wrong. I am scared he is going to grow up and reoffend.
“If he does not get the help he needs at this age, his behaviour is going to get worse. I just want my son to have a normal life, after everything that was done to him, I just want him to have all the help he deserves.”
A spokesman for Croydon Council said: “In some more complex cases we understand parents may feel the necessary needs assessment process is not as fast as they would like.
“However, it is important critical decisions on social and educational support are made only after a thorough appraisal of each individual situation has been made by all of the agencies involved.”
Paul Tupper’s history of abuse
Former football club volunteer Paul Tupper was jailed for five years in 2008 after being found guilty of sexually abusing a string of young boys.
Tupper, 60, of Wallington, abused his position with Croydon Football Club to carry out 16 sexual assaults. The offences dated back to 1977.
Tupper abused at least two boys at caravan sites.
The nine-year-old boy’s counsellors said he was very subtly groomed by the paedophile, who gave him money for sweets and took him to football matches.
His mother said her son would not talk about the full extent of the abuse he suffered but told her at one point Tupper threatened to cut off his penis with a pair of scissors if he ever told anyone about what was happening.
Tupper has been placed on the sex offenders register for life.
Mother feels let down and ignored by council
A mother whose teenaged daughter was sexually abused by her partner feels utterly let down by social services.
Medway Council and Croydon Council washed their hands of the case, leaving the single mother with no support and no one to turn to.
The 45-year-old, from Croydon, moved with her 14-year-old daughter and partner of three years to Gillingham in Kent in 2009.
Six months later she discovered he had sexually abused her daughter when she was just 12 years old.
She said: “Since we moved, he had been making suggestions and touching her, he asked her if she wanted to play games.
“He went into her room and said she could have him any time she wanted. She got scared something was going to happen to her again and that is why she did not want to go home.
“I just started crying, I could not believe it. I feel broken, I feel guilty, I thought at least I could manage to keep my kids safe and I did not even manage to do that.”
Police helped them pack a few belongings before they fled to the safety of a house in Croydon where the 45-year-old’s three adult sons live.
The desparate mum called her social worker at Medway, crying and begging for help and counselling, she was told it would be organised.
She said: “I kept chasing the social worker and eventually he said he would pass my case to Croydon social services the next morning. He said there was nothing more he could do.
“All I received from Croydon was a letter. It said there was nothing social services could do for me, if I needed counselling I should get in touch with my GP.
“I was so upset, I just tore the letter up, I gave up hope. I feel so let down and so angry.
“You work hard and pay your taxes and when you are in desperate need of help, you call on the council and it is not there.”
Kent Police confirmed a 49-year-old man from Gillingham was arrested on January 30 on suspicion of sexual assault on a girl under the age of the 13. He is on bail until April 12.
A spokeswoman from Medway Council said: “The council is unable to help in the long term as the family’s name is linked to a tenancy agreement on a property in south London.
“This means they are not homeless and should be under the care of the council where they now live.”
A Croydon Council spokesman said: “If we are told someone receiving social care support is moving to Croydon we assess the best course of action based on the details we have been provided.
“We reviewed this case and are confident appropriate advice was given.”