Lambeth Council has made an unreserved apology to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse and neglect suffered while in its care, following a damning report.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found a "culture of cover-up" led to more than 700 children being abused over five decades.

Lambeth Council has accepted the findings, published today, committing to implement three recommendations made by the report.

Responding to the report, Cllr Claire Holland, leader of Lambeth Council, said: “On behalf of all elected Members and staff, Lambeth Council wishes to re-state our sincere and heartfelt apology to all victims and survivors of abuse and neglect while in Lambeth’s care.

“The council was responsible for their care and protection but failed, with profound consequences. The council is deeply sorry for their experiences.

“As the IICSA Report sets out, the council of the past failed to protect many of its most vulnerable children. A disproportionate number of those children were from Black, Asian and Multi-Ethnic backgrounds.

“The extent and scale of the horrendous abuse, which took place over many decades, remains deeply shocking.

“The council failed to acknowledge concerns when they arose, often failed to believe children when they disclosed abuse and then failed to take effective action.

“That so many children and adults were not believed compounded their experiences and caused further pain and distress with lifelong impacts.

“The council takes responsibility for contributing to conditions in which adults were able to abuse with apparent impunity.”

The report found that abusers were able to to infiltrate homes and the foster system.

The inquiry examined five homes - Angell Road, South Vale Assessment Centre, the Shirley Oaks complex, Ivy House and Monkton Street - dating back to the 1960s.

It heard evidence of children being raped, indecently assaulted and sexually abused, but said that of the 705 complaints made by former residents, only one member of senior staff was ever disciplined.

It estimated the number of those abused was likely much higher, and recommended the Metropolitan Police should consider whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation into one boy who died in a care home in 1977 having previously complained of being abused by a senior member of staff.

The report acknowledged there were “much‑improved systems in Lambeth”, but said there was still evidence of a more recent case, from 2016, in which an allegation of rape did not result in a strategy meeting taking place to consider the claim.

The report made a number of recommendations, including that the council publish an action plan to deal with the issues raised in the report, and for a review of recruitment and vetting checks of current foster carers and children’s home staff.

It also said Scotland Yard should consider whether there were grounds for criminal investigations into the council’s actions when providing information to the coroner about the circumstances of a child’s death – known during the inquiry as LA-A2 – who died in the bathroom at Shirley Oaks in 1977 having previously alleged his house father, Donald Hosegood, abused him.