Ofsted didn't spot home problems
A CARE home in Tiverton was highly praised by a regulator of children's services six months before it closed over allegations vulnerable residents had been abused.
Devon County Council celebrated the results of an inspection by Ofsted which described Birchen Lane as a "safe, calm and nurturing environment" before suspending admissions in March this year.
There is no suggestion that staff members at the centre on Brewin Road were involved, but it is understood girls were supplied with alcohol and propositioned by men. Police were called after they failed to return home.
The alleged abuse, of which no details have been released by the council, is said to have occurred away from the centre and staff members have since been moved elsewhere.
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Convicted paedophile Christopher Redfern, 65, of Angel Hill, Tiverton, had been accused of being among those who preyed on children at the home. He received a 15-month prison sentence in July after being found guilty of rape and seven offences of indecent assault or gross indecency involving a girl between 11 and 13.
But Devon County Council said no concerns have ever been raised of a link between Redfern and children at Birchen Lane, nor any other children for which the council is responsible as corporate parent.
A spokesman said: "The suspension of placements at Birchen Lane remains in place. The home has received good Ofsted reports, but as with all of our children's residential services it is subject to long-term review. The welfare of all children in our care remains paramount."
Birchen Lane is a care home for up to six young people, aged eight to 18, who have emotional or behavioural problems which prevent them from living with a family, who stay their for around 12 months, depending on their needs.
Devon County Council released part of the Ofsted report on September 11, 2012, and said inspectors found there was "a real sense staff went the extra mile to keep young people safe" which was echoed by some of the young people who told inspectors that they felt protected at the home.
No one from Ofsted was available to comment before the Gazette went to press.