Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Did Lambeth council put Hackney kids at risk?

A Hackney-based child counselling service employed a child therapist who attempted to pay a 14-year-old girl for sex less than six months after he started the job.

Brian Pead was caught in an internet-based police sting and sentenced in January. The Hackney agency where Pead worked said that none of its clients were involved.

A court report in the Bexley Times said that Pead had previously been sacked from a job at Lambeth Council after being caught masturbating in a theatre.

Yesterday (Tuesday) a spokesperson for Lambeth Council told Blood and Property that this claim was not correct but would not provide any further details. Neither would she say when Pead worked for Lambeth Council or what job he held there. She also said that answering Blood and Property's questions was not a priority.

Blood and Property has recieved a statement from Off Centre, the Hackney-based agency where Pead was working. One director of Off Centre said that all required checks were carried out but believed that the new Vetting and Barring Scheme may have alerted them to Pead's record.

Off Centre is in Hackney South and Shoreditch, the constituency of Meg Hillier, the minister in charge of the Vetting and Barring Scheme.

It remains unclear whether any of Pead's past behaviour would have alerted Off Centre, or whether this information would have been available to Off Centre via the current system, or under the Vetting and Barring scheme.

Off Centre provided this statement: "Brian Pead was employed by Off Centre from January 9th 2008 to June 13th 2008 after which he was summarily dismissed due to gross misconduct.

"Before Mr Pead took up said employment, Off Centre carried out all pertinent checks including references and enhanced CRB checks in line with child protection and safeguarding children and young people guidelines.

"On Wednesday 4th June 2008 Off Centre management was informed that Mr Pead had been arrested and was being held at a police station on charges of attempting to solicit sex over the internet with a 14-year-old girl.

"Due to the seriousness of the matter, Mr Pead was suspended immediately pending a disciplinary investigation which resulted in a dismissal from Off Centre. Mr Pead was still in his probationary period at the time.

"Off Centre co-operated fully with the the ensuing police investigation and management was assured by police and our own internal investigation that none of Off Centre's clients were involved.

"The police investigation concerned events outside of the organisation and, as such, Off Centre had no further direct involvement in the matter, other than to correct Mr Pead's untruthful claim that he had been conducting research into CSA (child sexual abuse) as this was certainly not part of his role at Off Centre.

"During the subsequent court case, Nicola Noone, director of Off Centre, gave evidence to refute Mr Pead's claim as research was not part of his role at Off Centre, nor was it ever discussed with, or sanctioned by, management.

"On 23rd December 2009, the director of Off Centre was informed that a guilty verdict had been returned. On 24 December 2009, the director emailed the ISA to initiate the process of making a referral and on 18th January 2010 a full referral, together with supporting information was submitted to the ISA. Mr Pead was sentenced on 27 January, 2007."

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