23rd May, 2022 2:33 pm
A 12-year-old boy was driven almost 200 miles and housed with a sex offender by a social worker at an under-fire council, the BBC has learned.
The child was taken from his home in Herefordshire to stay with a relative in Bradford whose partner had admitted touching a young girl in 1991.
The boy, now an adult, said he had been told he would be there a week but ended up staying almost four months.
Herefordshire Council apologised for its “serious failings”.
It comes after a string of failings in the authority’s children’s services department were highlighted by BBC Panorama, including twins who were wrongly split up for adoption after a social worker deleted expert advice from a report warning against separating them.
The department is currently under review after being told by a judge it “wasn’t fit for purpose” and had “utterly failed” children in its care.
The boy in the latest failing to emerge is now a young adult and spoke to BBC Hereford & Worcester about his ordeal.
It was 2016 when he was driven to West Yorkshire by a social worker who was working with his family due to difficulties at home.
“It was the half-term holidays and I was just told it was a week away to let my hair down,” he said.
“I was told I’d be back in a week and back to school.”
He ended up staying there for almost four months, did not attend school and was not registered at a GP surgery.
“My whole time up there was torture, every day was a struggle, not having my parents there,” he said, adding he had suffered physical and verbal abuse while living there, but not sexual.
He said he had struggled to recover mentally from his ordeal.
The BBC has seen documents from the time, which the family has kept, which state the social worker insisted initial checks by police were clear.
“Herefordshire Council have a duty of protection of children,” said the young man. “And for an unstable child to be sent to live with a registered sex offender, it’s just wrong.”
He said he had not had an explanation from the council about why he had been sent to live there, but hoped speaking out would help to change the culture.
“I just hope Herefordshire social services and Herefordshire Council as a whole can become an auspicious establishment and look after the children as they should do,” he said.
“I want to know why they’ve done what they’ve done and why they thought that was best for the child.”
His father told the BBC he had been told his son had been “in a safe place” at the time and “there was going to be a social worker going out to see him every two weeks”.
When he discovered who his son had been placed with, he said it had been “terrible”.
“It was going round my mind thinking, is this true? My first instinct was to get him out of the establishment that he was staying and move him to where he was safe.”
Herefordshire Council, which looks after 385 children in care, said it would conduct a full review of what had happened and get in touch with the family.
“We know this came at a time when our children’s services had serious failings,” it said in a statement.
“We would like to apologise to the children and families affected by the serious failings that have occurred in our children’s services over many years.”
It said a new leadership team was in place that had begun a three-year improvement programme.
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