Peer identifies improvements needed to children’s services

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MORE than three years ago, child protection services in a Yorkshire town were labelled “chaotic” after two young brothers attacked two other young boys in a sadistic attack which shocked the country.

Since then, Doncaster Council has faced a series of investigations, interventions and reports, and yesterday the latest verdict, delivered in a review ordered by ministers, was that, despite it all, “weaknesses remain”.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile published his findings into the Edlington incident in London 
yesterday, but his recommendations will have to be acted 
upon in Doncaster, by workers already beaten down by 
criticism.

In his review, which coincided with a highly critical inspection report by Ofsted, Lord Carlile said: “I found that Doncaster today is not faced with the shambolic situation of early 2009.

“However, there remain weaknesses, which have been highlighted by the consequences of a severely critical report following an Ofsted inspection in October 2012 of the arrangements in Doncaster for the protection of children.”

The incident which sparked the controversy was a savage incident in which the two brothers lured their victims to a secluded spot and subjected them to a 90-minute attack.

The brothers were locked up in 2010 for a minimum of five years and will be released at the end of their sentence only if the Parole Board believes they are no longer a danger to the public.

The pair had been placed with foster carers by Doncaster Council shortly before the attacks. They had grown up in an extremely violent home in Doncaster, where they watched ultra-violent movies and were exposed to drink and drugs.

An executive summary of the serious case review was published in January 2010 and prompted a political row over whether to publish the full version.

But when the full, if heavily redacted, report was published in March, Mr Gove called in Lord Carlile.

Doncaster Council said in March it was taking disciplinary action against five members of staff and had referred one former employee to the General Social Care Council, the social care regulator.

A total of 279 members of the council’s staff were involved with the brothers’ family over a 15-year period.

The Ofsted report found that all areas of Doncaster’s child protection services remained
inadequate and the council
could not be confident that all children known to the children and young people’s services were safe.

Lord Carlile said his report summarised more than 100 important events affecting the brothers who committed the assault between May 2005 and April 2009.

He said it was “shocking” that more than 100 events after the first recorded, “the two boys were out on the streets, uncontrolled to the extent that they very nearly ended the life of a boy of their own age”.

The report made recommendations to improve children’s services in Doncaster but also highlighted a number of areas of improvement, some of which were rated as being adequate or good.

It said: “While progress is marked in some areas, the council acknowledges that children and young people’s services remains fragile and features of the historical legacy of failures are still evident.

“The significant increase in the volume of contact, referrals and the number of children on child protection plans over the past 12 months has severely impacted on capacity and further weakened services to children and young people and families.”