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The Edlington Case

A Review by Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC

On the 4 April 2009, two brothers, [J1] and [J2], aged 10 and 11, committed a very serious assault on two young victims, [V1] and [V2], in Edlington, having assaulted another young victim, [V3], the previous weekend. The perpetrators were subject to a child protection plan for physical abuse and neglect and looked after by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.

At the time of the assaults, Doncaster Council was failing to perform adequately its statutory functions for children. It was characterised by poor performance at senior management levels, a demoralised social work profession with unacceptable churn of staff, and inadequate communications between agencies. The Serious Case Review [SCR] that was initiated by Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board after these attacks found that local agencies had failed, over a period of years, to achieve better outcomes for [J1] and [J2] and had therefore failed to prevent the assaults on [V1] and [V2].

At the request of the Secretary of State for Education, I have independently reviewed the issues arising from the Edlington Case1 and the subsequent action taken and improvements made. I found that Doncaster today is not faced with the shambolic situation of early 2009. The Council now has an experienced and stable leadership team. The Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board and the Children’s Board2 have had new independent Chairs (since April and December 2009 respectively) and much more effective partnership work is now evident. I have concluded that, whilst there is a considerable way to go before Doncaster can be comparable with the best performing local authorities, there can be reasonable measure of optimism and a sense of achievable ambition.