Social work chief says sorry to child victims

A damning review of social services’ failures during the child torture case forced an “unqualified” apology from the authority’s interim director of social work last night.

Releasing a summary of a serious case review by Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board, the board’s chairman, Roger Thompson, said the case was “preventable” and “many important lessons” needed to be learned.

But Nick Jarman, interim director of Doncaster’s social services, confirmed later that only one person had faced disciplinary action so far.

Mr Jarman added during a press conference after the brothers were sentenced: “I would like to start by offering an unqualified apology on behalf of Doncaster Council for the admitted failings which led to this terrible incident.

“In particular, I would like to apologise to the victims of this case and their families and offer my apologies also to the residents of Doncaster.”

He said he came to Doncaster in April last year and found “an organisation which was totally broken”.

Mr Thompson again defended the decision to publish only the executive summary of the serious case review. He said the board was following government policy. He said the board was “very concerned” that the full review was leaked and said the police were investigating what happened.

The review included 18 recommendations for improving practice, with a catalogue of criticism of authorities’ conduct in failing to protect the victims. It said: “The panel concluded that the assault was a preventable incident.”

Mr Jarman described what had happened as a “catastrophe”. He said the department would be appointing an independent investigations officer who would probe disciplinary issues “without fear or favour”.

Asked why the brothers were placed with elderly foster parents near their abusive father, Mr Jarman said: “They were placed with experienced foster parents and it wasn’t known at the time they were close to their father. And in any case they were in the care of experienced foster parents.”