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29th Jul 2010 | in Kendall House Child Abuse News


Transcript of 1980 documentry covering the drugging of children in care and Kendall House Gravesend Kent

Presented by Godfrey Hodgson.
Reporter: Stephen Scott -  referred to in transcription as SS or VO [voice over] 

Opening credits

GV’s of posters showing various drugs
[V.O.] “Drugs like these are used on political prisoners in the Soviet Union. Now there’s growing concern that they’re also being widely used in Britain, not on prisoners, but on children in the care of local councils.”

The story of Pamela Butcher: How she is now married but had a troubled history in the care system at Kendall House.

Some psychiatrists believe that the use of such drugs is the only way to deal with problem children. No one knows for certain how many problem children, like Pamela, there are in local authority care in Britain.

Middlesex Lodge, Hillingdon.

Commentary of the reasons why children are taken into care – with a background of the specific acts, e.g. Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; Children Act 1946 etc.

GV’s inside Middlesex Lodge – which portrays the place as a beauty parlour for teenage girls.

Pie-chart demonstrating what happens to the children taken into care e.g. 26% put into children’s homes; 35% fostered etc.

Short I/V with JOHN OGDEN – Principal Advisor for London Children’s Planning Committee

I think it’s true and regretable that there are failures of the child care system I think one has to bare in mind that there may well be failures before they even come into the child care system, and the sort of problems that residential staff have to cope with in terms of the verbal abuse and even physical abuse from the children are very taxing on the staff. If you get a home that is perhaps seriously under-staffed, is relying on comparatively inexperienced staff – it’s not difficult to see that you can easily get an explosive situation and a point maybe reached when that may occur when the home can no longer care for that young person.

(Kendall House had over 30 members of staff to a ratio of 10 - 16 girls and was not under staffed )

Archive footage of girls out of control and being ‘pinned down’ by carers in a home.
SS [V.O.]: its children like these, often disturbed and severely violent, that are most likely to be subjected to treatment by drugs, although few of them have been diagnosed as having specific mental disorders.

Colin Brewer – Psychologist at Middlesex Lodge – describes the various pills that are or have been reportedly used to control children in home. Some of these [especially the blue and pink pills have been described by Teresa in PIN DOWN]
He talks about how they’re mainly used for people suffering from schizophrenia and the side-effects

CB: I don’t think it’s being too melodramatic to say that it’s this group of drugs that is being strongly criticized by many bodies including our own Royal College of Psychiatrists, it is used by the Russians and perhaps other regimes for treating or given to people who are not schizophrenic simply in order to keep them quite, which it will certainly do if you give it in high enough doses. It also can cause very unpleasant side-effects in very high doses.

Ron Lacey I/V, Social Worker Advisor for MIND.
Talks about the fact that it is widely known now that drugs are being used to control children. Talks about in his book how they’ve called for an enquiry into these allegations.

(No enquiry has been carried out by the Government to date 2010)

Politian is quoted that more needs to be done than simply quieten children down with drugs.



[VO] One of the places that has given rise to this concern is this house for girls in Gravesend. Kendall House is run by a Church of England group … The doors at KH are locked. It specialises in dealing with very disturbed girls aged form 10-16, some of them are there for several years.

Short I/V w. Miss Law in one of the girl’s dormitories
ML: On the whole they’ve moved around quite a bit and they tend to come here because either they’re very aggressive or they appear very depressed and they’re needing specialist help that way. They don’t fit in in a normal children’s home because they present a great deal of problems, special schools find them extremely difficult to handle…

[Actuality] Staff room in the morning. One of the teachers walks in and states “It’s all very quiet this morning.”

The standard of childcare at KH is high – the staff include nurses, teachers, and social workers, all trained to cope with particularly disruptive children.

SS: What sorts of incidents are you dealing with?
ML: Well general difficult behaviour, we get a lot of manipulation because children have learnt to manipulate a situation, so we get all the normal acting out behaviour of children at school tipping up desks, throwing their books on the floor, running from the classrooms that sort of thing. They also learnt you know to swear and carry-on at staff and so again they try that on – so you get sort of general difficult behaviour which one just has to help them face up to that – they can’t live like this. But we also get children who are extremely aggressive, who go into sort of frenzied aggression and don’t really know what they’re doing.

GV of Dr Peri and Miss Law with 4 girls in a common room. We are not shown the girls faces. They sit on a sofa opposite the Doctor and Miss Law who are facing them in a couple of arm chairs. 

[VO]: The concern about KH is over the type of medical treatment sometimes prescribed by the home’s consultant psychiatrist, Dr Perinpanayagam

Dr Peri asking the girls questions
DP: What about you, you’ve been with us for 3 months. And what was the feelings you had when you first came in here?
Girl 1: I was frightened at first. And after quite a while I settled in.
DP: You settled in. And do you - have you improved?
Girl 1: [timidly] Yeah.
DP: In what way …

SS [VO] Of the 12 girls in KH at the moment 4 are being given drugs

GV of girl outside KH stroking dogs
[VO]: This girl who’s been at the home for over 5 years was abandoned by her mother, who simply returned to Nigeria without her. The girl is severely emotionally disturbed and she suffers from epilepsy for which she also has to be treated. According to Miss Law she’s built up such a tolerance to drugs that on the day we filmed she’s been given enough to knock an adult on his back.

**(Documents seen show many of the girls were treated for epilepsy without a medical diagnoses)**

Cut-back-to the common room with Dr P asking questions:
DP: In spite of being on the medication you’re having you find you can concentrate at school?
Girl: yeah it’s not…
DP: And you can take part in the sports activities and trampoline and
Girl: [sounds placid, calm] Yeah so far – now, now I get a bit sleepy in the afternoons  

I/V w. Dr Peri on his own
DP: We deal here with severely disturbed children manifesting aggressive behaviour, absconding, having stolen things from shops and suicidally depressed children. And these are children who have not had a happy emotional background and hence are emotionally deprived {!!!!} and hence the behaviour they exhibit are anti-social behaviour patterns. And having been let down by their parents they come in a scared personality-wise way, and trying to establish relationships with adults whom they could eventually trust.

Would you describe them as being mentally ill?
DP: I would prefer to use the word ‘emotionally ill, and by that I mean displaying serious depression, anxiousness, tension and irritability. And these are the common patterns.

For some of them, not all, there is some medication
DP: For a few of them, especially those children who show serious depressive pictures because when they’re seriously depressed they find it very difficult to concentrate and benefit form psychotherapy. Apart from psychotherapy they find it very difficult to concentrate in school hence the importance of helping the depression.

**(Kendall House and Dr Perinpanayagam never done any psychotherapy with any KH girl ever) **

What sorts of medication are we talking about here then?
DP: They’re very safe medications. They are called tricycline anti-depressants, and tripdisol is one of them and they usually have this in the evening before they go to sleep because then they don’t have side-effects the next day. And they get this medication from anything from 3 – 6 months, after which it is weaned off.

**(during the interview with Dr Peri one girls files showed shocking and disturbing levels of forced drugging) **

Cut-back-to common room – MS of Dr Peri and Miss Law sitting in their chairs talking to the girls.
[VO] Our enquiries have shown that some children who have been treated by Dr Peri were on drugs over a much longer period.

Reporter walking with Pamela in woods.
[VO] Pamela Butcher spent 3 years in Kendal House. She was still on drugs when she left and she says that she, and the other girls that were on medication as well, did suffer serious side-effects.

Pamela: Some of them had the same problem as me of always being tired. Some of them had other problems with their eyes. I did at one stage have that problem myself, where they thought I needed glasses. They had my eyes tested and the optician eventually said it was the drugs I was being given at the home was affecting my eyes.


Pamela: Some of them used to make me really tired. Permanently tired. I seem to however I seemed to go to bed at night I seemed to still be tired in the morning and I’d sleep in the day. On one particular sort which I don’t remember what they were called, I was asleep nearly all the time on them.

Cut-to I/V w. Dr. Peri
Are you able to give any indication of how successful your work here has been?
DP: well we’ve had instances of children who have been here who have come back to us and visited and [are] holding jobs, living independently I think which they could never have done had they not had the 3 or 4 years at KH.

GV of outside of KH and London Borough of Brent building.
[VO] The case of another girl, who was in KH at the same time as Pamela, is now causing more wide-spread concern. The girl, called Yvonne, was taken into care by the London Borough of Brent when she was only 10 years old.

I/V w. Alan Clarke – Former Principal, Brent Assessment Centre
What sort of girl was Yvonne?
AC: She was quite small, with mixed parentage. And very intelligent and I suppose she could be described as hyper-active. She posed quite a lot of problems for staff because of her unwillingness at times to cooperate with us.

What was her background – why was she taken into care?
AC: I think that she initially came into care because her mother had other children, younger children, and she found the demands the Yvonne made on her much too much to cope with, and I think she came to the social services and asked for help. She had several periods with us in the assessment centre, a number of placements were tried, ranging from children’s homes – she was found to be too difficult for children’s homes – at some stage she was sent to a school for girls, and there they found that they couldn’t contain her, she was often running away, committing minor offences.

Cut-to I/V w. Dr Peri
[VO] Then in October 1975 Yvonne was sent to KH.
D Peri: Oh yes. Yvonne came to us from a very very seriously deprived background and lacking any proper parental standards to mould her life by. Hence she displayed very serious aggressive homicidal behaviour. Which became apparent from time to time, here in KH. And we had to use a preparation to help her to overcome the aggression.
[VO] which would be what?
DP: in her case it was modecate. And this certainly helped her over this period and she was able to relate to the others and learn better.
[VO] In that particular case then you were having to use modecate to control her behaviour
DP: I would say to control her serious homicidal behaviour.

**(Dr Peri tries to justify the drugs. You will see he lied further on)**

[VO] As I understand it she had spoken later to social workers and said that if she missed behaved than at that time she would be given injections or tranquilizers of some form.
DP: I wouldn’t agree with that – I don’t think just for misbehaving she was given an injection, far from it, if she had hurt somebody seriously and she had displayed anti-social behaviour by destruction and smashing up that sort of thing, then having tried to advise her to calm down. If she continued to exhibit that behaviour that was when an injection would be given.

Cut-to Alan Clarke I/V
[VO] Just over a year after Yvonne first went to KH she spent Christmas at the Brent Assessment Centre. Alan Clark, noticed she’d changed dramatically.

AC: At first I didn’t recognise her. She was not the same child. She was zombie-like, her hands trembled, she was so docile which was in total opposition to what we’d seen before. She was with us a few days and we were required to administer a number of pills. The doses were stated on the respective bottles, we were given no information bout what these pills were for or what they would do, and as I remember it the 3 drugs concerned was a substance called camcolit, another called artane and a third called modecate. And as I remember the doses of 2 of these the camcolit and the modecate were quite significant.

[VO] were you happy that she was taking drugs like that?   
AC: well initially we didn’t know what the drugs were for. When she began to fall asleep in the middle of the day, she seemed to be quite unable to understand what was being said to her. Most of the time when she was awake she had a sickly grin on her face. This was totally alien to the personality that we’d known and it worried me so much that I telephoned a psychiatrist who was a consultant at that time and asked him what the drugs were and what sort of effect they would have on her, and he did agree that these particular drugs were very powerful sedatives and could be responsible for her condition. He also explained that one of the drugs was to stop the trembling of the hands which we’d noticed as a very marked symptom of her condition. That trembling at times was so bad that she couldn’t hold a cup.

Cut-To Dr Colin Brewer
[VO] Dr Colin Brewer saw Yvonne after she’d been at KH for 3 years. We asked him, what in his opinion had Yvonne been treated for.
CB: That’s a very good question. She was clearly not suffering from any disorder like schizophrenia. I saw no evidence while she was here, or evidence form her notes to say that she was suffering from say manic depressive disorder. So I’m forced to conclusion that her disease, her disorder, was simply that she was rather stroppy – that’s putting it rather mildly – she was very stroppy. And the drugs were either being used simply as a chemical restraint, as chemical imprisonment and indeed they were undoubtedly being used in very large doses, so large in fact were it not for the fact that the same dosage appears so frequently in her notes I would have thought that there must have been a misprint, that there must have been a typing mistake.

Cut-to I/V w. Dr Peri
[VO] Is she ill?
DP: ill in the sense that she was displaying serious aggressive anti-social behaviour that we would not see in a child who had a better upbringing and a better chance in life to mould her standards by.

I/V w. Dr. Maurice Rosen – Chairman Brent Social Services
[VO] As well as being chairman of social services of Brent you are a doctor and you’ve seen Yvonne’s medical file. What was she actually suffering from?
Dr.M: well this in fact – I in fact don’t know and from what I can understand the consultant psychiatrist in question doesn’t like to label the children he’s looking after. One can accept that, I mean I’m not going to disagree with how he might decide to label a particular child’s condition or not.
[VO] But are you saying there’s no clear diagnosis on the records?
Dr. M: No.

Cut-to common room girl, Miss Law & Dr Peri
[VO] Whether or not Yvonne’s treatment at KH was justified it does not seem to have solved her problems. After 3 years she was sent to the St Charles Youth Treatment Centre in Essex a national unit run directly by the department of health for some of the country’s most disturbed and delinquent teenagers. Last September Yvonne and another 15 year old took over the kitchen there and took over the staff with knives. It took police with riot shields to get them out.

**(Note, this girl was going cold turkey from dangerously high doses of drugs)**


[VO] Are you satisfied with the standard of care that she’s had in the care of Brent.
Dr M: to say yes would basically be untrue given what has happened in this particular case.

Cut-To girls in KH
As a result of our inquiries into Yvonne’s case the department of health and social security is being asked to investigate Dr Peri’s methods of treatment at KH.

[VO] We in Brent have asked the DHSS if in fact they would look into what happens at KH. In regard to the question of the use of drugs to see whether it’s something that ought to be done or not. I think what one would hope is that out of this there will come a general inquiry whereby the whole question will be broached on a much wider level than it already has in the past to see whether drugs really do have a part to play in the treatment of children.

Cut-to GV of girls climbing stairs to classroom in KH, having a lesson in KH.
[VO] Because of Yvonne’s case Brent council are reviewing whether or not they’ll continue to send children in their care to KH. Kensington and Chelsea council have also decided to act of the question of the use of drugs, as a result of recent cases not just involving KH, they are drawing up a list of the drugs that must not be used on their children without the council’s specific consent. Many people who have to deal with severely disturbed children would welcome the introduction of clear guidelines of when drugs should be used. The difficulty is that the department of health and social security do not keep any statistics on where, when and how often powerful drugs are used on children care.

Cut-To I/V w. Ron Lacey
[VO] other experts on child care however feel that simply drawing up guidelines to control the use drugs misses the point. They say you jus can’t treat delinquency.
RL: If in fact the condition were susceptible to treatment it might be easier to argue for a treatment-based approach. Now there is not one jot of evidence that juvenile delinquency is in anyway susceptible to any form of treatment so you do wind-up with a very very unjust situation in which youngsters are sent for indeterminate periods of time to forms of treatment which frankly don’t work.

Even is the treatment of drugs on young people was banned except where there was a specific mental disorder, the problem of what to do with them would of course remain.

[VO] Colin Brewer believes there are alternatives.
CB: I would certainly lock the doors every time I think that if the only alternative to locking doors is in effect to lock up their minds surely most people would agree that it is better to lock the door and try and do something to the mind within that secure environment. And in my experience of asking the children themselves which they prefer that is what they would want to.

Talks about how St Charles Youth Treatment Centre opts for locking of doors over drug treatment, though this method is extremely costly. Then states that there are professionals out there trying to argue that the cheapest and most effective way is to look after the children within the community outside of homes, being locked up and drug treatment. Kent county council have been testing this out for the past 5 years.

I/V w. Nancy Hazell. Project Organiser – Kent Family Placement Scheme.
Over 70% of the children placed in foster care saw improvements in behaviour etc.

Pamela Butcher – profiled as one of those children who benefited from being placed in foster care, [though personally I think her foster-mother seems cold, unaffectionate and detached as she talks about Pamela]. She even admits to having to resort to sitting on her - [Pin Down in the comfort of your own home!]

I/V w. Nancy. Asked if there are children who can’t be fostered she answers [00:33:50]
I suppose there are. But I don’t know who they are.

Reporter goes onto state how more councils will look into fostering but for “the short term” they will continue to place children in care homes.

Back to studio reporter

PART II of programme.
I/V with Sir George Young – Junior Minister for Health & Social Security.

Sir George: Advance in drugs has enabled children who have been in institutions the whole of their lives to return to the community. And I think that there is a role for drugs in treating some of the children that we’ve looked at but the actual decision of what to describe and for how long if of course a clinical decision that should be taken by a doctor. And I think one has to make it clear that doctor owes his allegiance to the child he is treating not to the institution that he’s in or the people running it.     

Asked about guidelines in giving children drugs – he replies that he thinks many doctors would welcome guidance if it came from a medical body rather than a political body.

Asked about whether he’s setting up an inquiry into this he states
“No. Not an inquiry”, feels it would be more appropriate for medical bodies [as opposed to political ones to set guidelines e.g. they notified the Royal College of Psychiatrists] – he says that it wouldn’t be appropriate for politicians to get involved in what he considers to be a clinical matter.

Interviewer then asks if it would be appropriate for the health department to send inspectors to actively look out for cases where drugs are being used – NOT for the child’s benefit but to make life easier for the staff. He replies by saying that the care provided by local authorities are a “safeguard” within themselves and that the responsibility of the child and how they are treated when in care lies with them.

Interviewer challenges by saying that national politicians can’t involve themselves but local ones can – again he retaliates by stating that the local councils are the “legal guardians” and therefore completely responsible. 
Suggests the alternative of locking children up rather than drugging them

“The doctor should only really give treatment if it is in the child’s interest, and if the child knows what’s happening, and I think it would be wrong actually to rely on drugs to make the staff [incoherent] more easy, or to enable the home to run with fewer staff, I think that would be a misuse.”

Interviewer suggests other alternative [to drug treatment] of fostering schemes, such as the one in Kent. He replies that the government is in favour of this as an alternative not to drug treatment in children, but as an alternative institution for children.

Back in the studio. He concludes that the department of health and social security is keen to develop other means of looking after children in care, without the use of drugs.
He then states that is the Royal Society of Psychiatrists did not feel it necessary to create guidelines for the use of drugs then the government would take no further action. 

End of programme.

Exec producer: Barry Cox
Film Research: Rod Taylor



  • On 29th Jul 2010 at 04:07 PM Yvonne Stewart-taylor said...

    I know they are still doing this to children now, nothing has changed. I know a little girl who was removed from her Mother, given to grandmother to foster and is drugged all the time, sanctioned by social workers and this is not an isolated case, there are a large percentage of children who are being suppressed in this way for no good reason. This is shocking but very true. I was drugged from age 14 to 18 with Valium, Attivan ( now a banned drug, and other sedatives all prescribed by my GP because I told him life at home was unhappy and I was falling behind in school due to my dads alcoholism. I was not ill, just unhappy. It took me almost ten years to get off Valium I was addicted to it. When I told a GP later in life not to prescribe it to me he gave me diazipan which is Valium. I caught him out and told him off and he wanted to know how I found out, I told him I worked as a dental nurse and had access to the book on contra indications, as part of my job. He turned red and was very embarrassed. You will find there are a large amount of people who have been used as guinea pigs by GP’s for the pharmas, no doubt on commission. this was done to me without my parents consent and against my wishes.I would never trust a GP or consultant ever again.

    I was told by my GP yesterday that she is trying to help me but I am difficult to help. You are damned right I am, I won’t do as they say.

  • On 16th Mar 2011 at 12:49 PM linda arkell said...

    I was drugged against my will while in the care of croydon social services i was forced to take a coctail of drugs against my will,largctil,librium,amitriptyline,imipramine,valium,these are just a few that i rememember.middlesex lodge,milton house,cumberlowe lodge and other remand centres and approved schools.i am now addicted to valium i am 53 and was forced to take it at the age of 11.i was used as a guinia pig by the very people who were supposed to take care of me.but they abbused me physically and mentaly and now my life is ruined in many ways,i am having therapy to try to help but at the end of the day i am on my own with my nightmares that never leave me,the horrors that went on in these places,being held down while being injected and left on the floor of a strip cell and all because they could do it,and the reason was i would not eat meat,beaten and drugged for being a vegetarian.i remember the names of the deputy man and wife,mr and mrs moran,they were from yorkshire. well thanks taberner house croydon social services for ruining my life. i want answers these people should be made to answer for what they did the cruelty the beatings the mental torture  

































  • On 26th Jul 2011 at 05:48 PM a carlton said...

    I was placed in kendall house gravesend and was forcibly drugged - I had been taken into care voluntarily had no criminal record or any other aggresive behaviour - i was in care because of family break down.  i was systematically abused and pinned dowen like many of the other girls.  I had been placed there as it was deemed as a childrens home with education. I had only previously been in care at an assessment centre for 6 months from then on i endured being moved approximatly every 8 weeks to many various foster homes assessment centresd childrens homes and secure units.  I never displayed any aggresive behaviour but if any of the fioster parents i was placed with questoned my ‘prescribed high dose ’ of medication i was promptly moved.  Living in kendall house at the hands of Dr peri was akin to being a human guinea pig in a 1930’s kind of backdated asylum ifd he wanted a quiet day we were all drugged with more largactyl or whatever if he wanted us to all dance and sing along to his accordian playing we were either given less drugs or i can only assume drugs to make us happy. The staff knwew exacty what they were administrating and I hold them totally responsible for their inhumane ways.  If they had had any conscience they would have reported the situation rather than try to cover their own backs when the tv intwrviewers were there.

  • On 22nd Dec 2011 at 03:45 PM lorraine barrett said...

    I also were sent to kendel house from Brent, i spent seven months there, KH stands for control you are force druged with what look like smartee pour into your hands, which left me dead inside., i could not tell you who iam and was, the persure sores from been sedated for days could be longer i dont, i do recall missing out on days, days that could never be replace. i am sorry i did not know that finilly someone heard the voices of the girls.

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