Two daughters made pregnant 18 times by their abusive father have received an apology from the authorities who failed to protect them.
The apology was made at a news conference which revealed the findings of the serious case review.
The Sheffield man, who cannot be named, was given a life sentence after admitting 25 counts of rape in 2008.
The review found missed opportunities and collective failures to protect the children over three decades.
It was carried out by safeguarding children boards in Sheffield and Lincolnshire and acknowledged the family had contact with 28 different agencies and 100 members of staff over 35 years, including police, doctors, nurses and social workers.
We are genuinely sorry. We should have protected you
Chris Cook, Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board
Sue Fiennes, independent chair of Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We want to apologise to the family at the heart of this case. It will be clear that we have failed this family.”
Chris Cook, independent chair of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We are genuinely sorry. We should have protected you.”
He added: “We must remember that people’s lives were devastated both by a controlling, power-obsessed and deviant father and our failure to act.”
The serious case review showed the family moved 67 times so the father could avoid detection.
Professor Pat Cantrill, independent report author of the serious case review, said opportunities “were missed individually and collectively”.
“The inquiries that were identified should have resulted in the children being taken to a place of safety but that did not occur.”
The man’s son described him to the BBC as “a big, big bully”
Rapist father ‘terrorised family’
Timeline: Rapist father case
Ms Cantrill said authorities had difficulties dealing with issues arising from this case.
“For some professionals, I honestly believe they got quite stuck around this situation. They didn’t know how to handle it.”
The report divided the family’s experiences into three episodes – their time in Sheffield from 1975 to 1988; the period in Lincolnshire from 1988 to 2004 and the four years between 2004 and 2008 in Sheffield.
On 23 separate occasions from 1998 to 2005 the daughters were specifically asked about the paternity of their children by various people.
But the report found that despite concerns, nothing was done as professionals felt that, as there was no evidence to prove it, there was nothing they could do.
Ms Fiennes said: “Professionals felt – wrongly – that, despite suspicions voiced by the other family members, they could not act unless they had a direct disclosure from the women themselves.
What we can see, systematically, is time after time after time there were groups of people that failed to take action
Dr Sonia Sharp
“It was plainly unrealistic to expect victims in these harrowing circumstances to disclose what has happened to them.
“There were collective failures, we all failed this family.”
Dr Sonia Sharp, executive director of Children and Young People’s Services on Sheffield City Council, said: “What is very clear in this case is there is not a single big omission or big act that we can say ‘Yes, it was that person’.
“What we can see, systematically, is time after time after time there were groups of people that failed to take action.”
The press conference was told that nobody had been disciplined, sacked or had resigned over the failings.
The father was 56 at the time of his sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court.
The judge, Alan Goldsack QC, said the case was the worst he had seen in 40 years.
Attacks on the victims led to 18 pregnancies. Nine of the children were born, two of whom died on the day of their birth.
The rest of the pregnancies were miscarried or aborted.
The abuse started when the women were pre-pubescent, and they were badly beaten if they failed to comply.
The father’s minimum jail term of 19-and-a-half years was cut to 14-and-a-half years at the Court of Appeal in May 2009.
The executive summary makes 128 recommendations – including eight national recommendations – for improving understanding, practice, procedures and training on interfamilial abuse.
source: BBC News