Doncaster council inquiry over child deaths
An independent inquiry will be launched into children's services at Doncaster Council after serious case reviews were ordered into the deaths of seven children in the area.
Children's Minister Beverley Hughes has written to Doncaster Council to express concern about the situation. Last month Ofsted was highly critical of the quality of children's services, rating them as among the worst in the country. The Ofsted report said Doncaster Council's strategies for protecting children were 'inadequate'.
Ms Hughes' letter to the authority says: "It is crucial that the root causes of these failings are fully explored and that the capacity and capability of the Council and its key partners to drive improvement in these areas is fully assessed." Of the seven deaths being examined in serious case reviews, two of the children were murdered by their fathers and four were less than one year old at the time of their deaths.
The findings of a review into the death of 16-month-old Amy Howson are expected to be published next year. The baby's father, James Howson, 25, was told he must spend a minimum of 22 years in prison after he was found guilty of murdering his daughter. The baby's mother, Tina Hunt, 25, was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting cruelty. The findings of three reviews have already been published - they involved children who were abused or neglected before they died.
In each case it was found social workers had missed opportunities to intervene and one review described the children's services department as chaotic and dangerous.
Sallie Booth from law firm Irwin Mitchell welcome this inquiry and advises "These are examples of most extreme cases of child abuse but often inadequate care from social services can cause significant damage to children. It is not uncommon where social services have failed to intervene leaving children vulnerable suffering permanent difficulties. Whilst it will be incredibly difficult for survivors of abuse they may be able to obtain redress in the form of compensation and such for their suffering and for support counselling and other medical treatment to assist in their recovery."
If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse please contact our specialist team for free advice.