Doncaster child abuse investigation: Council commits to £3m investigation

A multi-million pound investigation into allegations of abuse at two Doncaster children’s homes will ‘take some time’ so victims are fully heard.

Doncaster Council has committed to spend £3 million into whistleblowers allegations which children and young adults were being abused in the borough.

Although not mentioned in the council report, it is understood it relates to Fullerton House School Children’s Home in Denaby and Wilsic Hall School Children’s Home near Wadworth.

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Both are operated by the Hesley Group, which has its headquarters at Hesley Hall near Doncaster.

Wilsic Hall School Children’s Home near WadworthWilsic Hall School Children’s Home near Wadworth
Wilsic Hall School Children’s Home near Wadworth

Coun Rachael Blake, cabinet member for children’s services, said the council and partners took swift and proactive action when the allegations were first raised.

“For the council, this investigation on the necessary scale and taking the robust actions outlined, cannot be undertaken within current staffing levels and therefore the request for additional resources is needed,” Coun Blake said.

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“It should also be noted that it will take some time to complete the investigation to ensure the voices of children, young people and young adults are heard.”

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The council has ruled the allegations passed the threshold to instigate a ‘Complex Abuse Investigation’ (CAI).

This means the allegations raised show organised or multiple instances of abuse involving one or more abusers and a number of children.

The alleged abusers concerned also may be acting in concert to abuse a child or children, or may be acting in isolation.

One or more of the adults involved may be using an institutional framework or position of authority to recruit children for abuse.

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Both schools were closed by Government inspectors earlier this year following an emergency inspection which also saw police brought in to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect at the schools.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed they are investigating both establishments.

Council bosses estimated that additional funding of up to £3 million is required, covering the period until December 2023.

The estimate is based on the current monthly cost of £110,000, which funds a ‘specialist experienced dedicated team’ including eight social workers, team manager, lead senior manager, head of service and administrative/business support, with an allocation for contingency to retain flexibility in carrying out the in-depth investigation.

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Coun Phil Cole said: “The £3 million we are setting aside for this investigation is absolutely vital and we have to be really robust about this and thorough.

“We should have the resources that our staff need in order to fully investigate this. Although this is a significant sum, we have to ensure the protection of our children at all costs.”

Coun Nigel Ball added: “It’s really positive to see that once the whistleblowing was enacted, DMBC and partners acted with speed and clarity to deal with this to safeguard and move young people and adults out.”