Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 21:12 UK

Plymouth girl abused despite social services visits

A girl from Plymouth was repeatedly abused by her parents, despite social services investigating seven times.

The girl, now a teenager, was made to have sex with her father and have pornographic pictures taken with her mother. They were jailed on Thursday.

Social workers were called seven times in her first eight years.

The head of children's social services said it was a "horrific case", but added it had happened in the 1990s and department changes had now been made.


Plymouth Crown Court heard that the girl's family was known to social services before she was born and workers from the children's department were called out seven times between her birth in 1994 and 2002.

There were repeated complaints of physical abuse and she told different social workers her father used to kick her or "whack" her.

She was taken into foster care for a short time when she was seven and her carers reported concerns about her already being over-sexualized.

However, social workers closed their files on her when she was eight because they were satisfied her parents understood the limits of physical chastisement.

Several years later, images of her were traded on the internet.

The girl, who was 14 when her parents were arrested in 2009, said she had taken them herself.

Police experts were able to prove the man in them was her father, because of distinctive piercings and tattoos.

The father, 43, was jailed by Plymouth Crown Court for 10 years after admitting sexual activity with a child, four offences of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, two of making and two of distributing indecent images.

'Massive strides'

The girl's mother, aged 39, admitted two counts of inciting a child to engage in sex acts, child cruelty, and making an indecent image. She was jailed for three years.

Bronwen Lacey, director of Services for Children and Young People at the city council, said the department had been working to provide support to allow the girl to move on with her life.

She added: "Whilst the conviction is recent, the social services case is historic.

"Initial contact with the child took place in the early 1990s, and the last contact with the then social services department was in 2002.

"We know that all those years ago social services in Plymouth were very different and the work carried out reflects practice during that time period. However, there was a child protection plan in place at that time.

"We have since made massive strides in the standard of children's social care and safeguarding.

"Indeed social services no longer exist. We now have children's services which incorporate social care, education, children's health and youth services; and is a much more thorough, joined-up way of working."

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