Blind Boy Locked Away For Five Hours At Children’s Home

A 14-year-old registered blind boy was locked away for up to five hours at a time in a children’s home run by Wakefield Council. The punishment regime – which was known by staff as “lockdown” – was illegal and very similar to the notorious “pindown” technique uncovered at children’s homes in the 1980s which prompted a public inquiry and new legal safeguards for children in care. On one occasion, the boy, who came from a tragically abusive background, was locked up for hours without food or drink after staff at the Langthwaite children’s home forgot to provide him with any.

The Yorkshire Post has previously revealed a catalogue of failings in Wakefield Council’s management of children’s homes, including yesterday’s coverage of a report by the Children’s Rights Director which exposed how the authority had blocked both the director and the NSPCC from fully investigating serious shortcomings in the standard of care.

Now, the contents of an inspection report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which is responsible to regulating social services including children’s homes, reveal further serious concerns.

The report, which Wakefield Council’s management never released to councillors, describes a regime at Langthwaite which involved regularly locking the boy away for hours at a time in a “soft room” which was virtually bare apart from a few cushions.

A member of staff said they were not averse to locking him in the dark when it was pointed out that light bulbs were not working.

The boy, who had significant care needs, was the only child at Langthwaite, and a former member of staff has told the Yorkshire Post that the youngster frequently referred to himself as “Prisoner Number One”.

The leader of the Conservative opposition on the Labour-run council has said he was “horrified” at having to learn of the inspection’s findings from the Yorkshire Post. Coun Mike Walker said: “Efforts of political and management leadership associated with social services should be directed into improving performance and not concentrating on apparently withholding data from councillors.”

A council spokesman confirmed the inspection report, drawn up last year, had not been made available to councillors.

Even though CSCI had taken legal action as a result of the findings, he said there was no legal requirement for councillors to be made aware of inspection reports.