Doncaster managers under fire again over child protection

Managers at Doncaster Council have come under fire again after it was discovered that warnings about the standard of child protection at the beleaguered council were first raised four years ago in an internal report.

The BBC unearthed the findings in a report from 2005, which mentioned ‘serious’ problems in the children’s services department.

A second document, in 2007, said social workers were so overwhelmed there were concerns for their mental health. After that report was written, five children who were known to Doncaster social services died over a seven-month period.

The reports were handed to BBC social affairs correspondent Alison Holt as part of a Panorama investigation.

The council said it was committed to making ‘rapid improvements’.

Managing director of Doncaster, Paul Hart, said: ‘It has been widely acknowledged through the diagnostic report that the restructure that took place in 2005 was one of the reasons that children’s services is experiencing some of the problems it currently is.

‘The council appointed me as interim MD in May 2007 and I immediately instigated a change in management arrangements to appoint a director of children’s services to manage the service and make recommendations for improvement.

‘The DCS reported in December 2007 and immediate action was agreed by the executive to begin to deal with the problems identified.’

In January, a crisis meeting into the state of the town’s child protection services heard that more than 300 youngsters were at risk of abuse in Doncaster.

The news comes as the interim director of children’s services for Doncaster, Dr Paul Gray, leaves his post.

He is being is replaced on 1 April by Gareth Williams, who held a similar post in Leicester.