Published: 12:00, 13 July 2016 |
Updated: 14:23, 13 July 2016
A report into a Gravesend children's home has revealed a "harrowing" regime of youngsters being drugged to sedate them, put in straitjackets and forced to live behind barbed wire.
An inquiry into Kendall House in the town has revealed a regime which "normalised control, containment and sometimes cruelty".
Bosses at the now-defunct home robbed young girls "of their individuality, of hope, and in some cases their liberty."
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The report comes after an expert panel investigated Kendall House in Gravesend after the Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, commissioned a review last year.
They met at St Nicholas Church in Rochester this morning to release the results.
Sue Proctor, who chaired the panel, described the home as "a frightening, violent and unpredictable place to live."
The wide-reaching review investigated the home, which first opened in 1947 as a home for young girls under the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury, with occupants sent to live there by the local authority.
The report found:
Kendall House was "an institution which had weak governance and oversight", which "normalised control, containment and sometimes cruelty", and that it robbed young girls "of their individuality, of hope, and in some cases their liberty."
Girls as young as 11 were regularly given antidepressants, sedatives and anti-psychotics without any medical assessment, with doses which exceeded prescribed adult levels. The drugs increased their vulnerability to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Those who resisted the drugs were punished by being locked away for long periods and threatened.
Some were placed in straitjackets, others were sent to the adult ward at a local mental health hospital.
The report describes the findings as "harrowing", adding: "Whatever their reason for admission, none (of the children) anticipated or deserved the treatment they received there."
Medication was given on a daily basis, non-compliance was not tolerated.
Those who did were punished with injections or by being forced to take medicine. Girls were instructed to line up to have their tablets/medicine and had to open their mouths to show staff it had been swallowed.
Drugs were sometimes administered covertly, such as being hidden in food or put into hot drinks - "melted in hot water and honey, crushed with sugar".
"I stopped being a person" - one of the former residents
It acknowledges that the experience of living at Kendall House has had "damaging life-long effects" on the women, both physical and emotional.
"I have never worked on anything as troubling as this. As a former nurse it is horrifying, as a Christian it is appalling" - Sue Proctor, panel chair
The panel who investigated the case - and their recommendations
The Kendall House Review panel was chaired by Sue Proctor, who also led the major independent investigation into matters relating to Jimmy Savile, and chaired the NHS Savile Legacy Unit.
She was joined by Samantha Cohen, a part-time judge who specialises in cases involving allegations of sexual abuse and child cruelty.
Also on the panel was Ray Galloway, who was the director of the independent investigation into the activities of Jimmy Savile.
They were joined at today's press conference by the Bishop of Rochester and the Right Reverend Trevor Wilmott, Bishop of Dover.
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