Statement from Andrew Kershaw (Survivors of Forde Park)
Forde Park Approved School was a brutal environment governed and run by the Home Office, pursuant to the 1933 Approved School Rules.
In the early 1970’s all the Home Office institutions were mostly transferred to local authorities, their staff along with them.
Make no mistake, Forde Park and the other institutions like it, were hell-holes where the level of violence, both sexual and physical, experienced by children every day leaves a legacy of disenfranchised, traumatised, often uneducated individuals, who have no hope in that same hell of getting any justice when they seek to bring their abusers to account.
Too many of my contemporaries are to be found in the criminal justice system and psychiatric wards, categorised as not credible witnesses by their history and by their claims.
It took me 2 years to get Devon police to take my statement about the abuses I suffered. In fact, they ignored me so I went and got together a group of former Forde Park boys who they couldn’t ignore. We were the ‘self styled’ Survivors of Forde Park.
Operation Lentisk cost in excess of £1million. Allegations were made against 190 people and there were 4,000 victims. Only 8 paedophiles were convicted. One of my abusers was sentenced to 18 years.
After continuously campaigning and annoying everyone in the process, the IPCC have just agreed to undertake a supervised investigation into the failings of Operation Lentisk and related Devon institutions into both the physical and sexual abuse of children in care.
As I’ve already pointed out to the Home Secretary; the Home Affairs Select Committee and anyone else who will listen, the current terms of reference being from 1970, the Home Office have effectively excluded themselves and their staff from this inquiry into state institutions failing in their duty of care to protect children from abuse.
Believe me when I say that the Home Office originally employed most of those named in Operation Lentisk
I am not alone in asking for the terms of reference to be put back to an earlier date and I have every confidence that in this aspect, we will be successful. We are helping to shape this inquiry to be the best it can be.