Abused pensioner supports steps to protect Portsmouth children

Les Cummings with his written apology from leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones
Les Cummings with his written apology from leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones

Police give advice on how to keep children safe online

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A PENSIONER who was abused while in a council care home has welcomed efforts to ensure vulnerable children are listened to more.

Portsmouth Safeguarding Children’s Board, which seeks to protect young people in the city, wants to improve the way it works.

The board, whose members include council, police and health workers, wants to ensure youngsters who have a grievance about a situation are taken more seriously.

It also wants to stamp out any issues of neglect.

Les Cummings, of Landport, suffered abuse at the former Portsmouth City Council-run Children’s Cottage Home in Cosham during the 1950s.

He said he supported extra steps being taken as he was never taken seriously when he made complaints to staff about what happened to him.

As reported, Mr Cummings, 70, was last month given an apology by the council for his experiences after an eight-year campaign for justice.

‘I absolutely support this and I think the safeguarding that is in place at the moment could be amplified,’ Mr Cummings said.

‘There could be a safe area set up for children to go to where they can talk to people other than teachers, police and council workers. It should be somewhere where children would feel comfortable in.’

The board’s intentions come on the back of a report it published which recognised improvements could be made. Cllr Donna Jones, council leader, made reference to Mr Cummings’ case when the board’s report was discussed at the cabinet’s latest meeting.

‘We have had one particularly high-profile case in the city in the past 10 years,’ she said. ‘The trouble with neglect is, it is often hidden.’

Meanwhile, the government has ordered an enquiry into historic claims of child sex abuse. The investigation will look into whether state institutions ensured children were protected from paedophiles.

Retired senior judge, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was set to lead the investigation, however she stepped down earlier today after allegations surfaced that her brother, Sir Michael Havers, tried to prevent ex-MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in Parliament in the 1980s.