Chances missed to prevent torture

Priscilla Coleman - Mr Justice Keith, sentencing the brothers at Sheffield Crown Court.
Priscilla Coleman - Mr Justice Keith, sentencing the brothers at Sheffield Crown Court.
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SIX social work staff have been hauled before professional hearings over failures which led to torture attacks on two boys in Edlington.

And Education Secretary Michael Gove has called for another official review over concerns raised by the incident which shocked the country.

The action is revealed as the Department for Education published a full serious case review report into the involvement of local agencies before the attacks by two young brothers, aged 10 and 11, on two other little boys in Edlington in April 2009.

The brothers were later detained indefinitely, and for a minimum of five years, for grievous bodily harm.

Sheffield Crown Court heard they led their victims, then nine and 11, to waste ground where they subjected them to a horrifying 90-minute ordeal.

They were robbed, beaten, stamped on, struck with bricks, choked and burned.

They also endured a series of humiliations, many of them sexual. The older boy almost died from his injuries.

The report details most of the 31 opportunities which were missed by the authorities to intervene in the case, and outlines the catalogue of violence which had occurred before the attacks.

Doncaster Council called in independent investigators after the incident, and says 279 council staff were involved with the boys’ family during a 15-year period.

The investigation, which is now complete, has concluded one former employee should be referred to the General Social Care Council. It also called for disciplinary investigation, capability proceedings or management action with regard to five others.

But Education Secretary Mr Gove said the report did not meet his expectations.

He said there was not enough information on why things happened, and what could have been done differently, although it put a good deal more information into the public domain.

He added: “I am not satisfied with the position we have reached. In particular, I want to be confident all the necessary lessons and improvements have been identified.

“I have therefore asked Lord Carlile CBE QC to carry out a further independent review of the issues and the action taken and improvements made.

“In order to ensure this builds on the progress already made under Doncaster’s new leadership, we will be linking this with the wider review of progress already planned for this summer, as part of the department’s formal, statutory, intervention.”

He said Doncaster children’s services had made progress since 2009 under new leadership, but it was essential lessons of the past were learned to better protect Doncaster’s children today and in the future.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, who represents Edlington, said the public had a right to know what went wrong to allow the events that led to the attack to have happened.

She said: “I have been demanding the publication of the serious case review for two years, so I welcome the fact this report is now in the public domain. What is published shows a catalogue of professional failure between services.”

Of the attackers, she said there had been ‘a failure to rescue two boys from a violent and neglectful household, despite violent incidents dating back to 1995 when the boys were toddlers’.

“This failure to deal with children living in a hopeless setting allowed these boys to repeatedly act out the violence they grew up with, until the terrible assaults in Edlington 14 years later.

“This terrible report is a warning to professionals about the need to protect children from violence - or reap the consequences in later years.

“I hope Doncaster Council children’s services and their partner organisations learn the lessons in full, so the terrible events are prevented in the future.”