Council at centre of Edlington torture case to face investigation

The beleaguered local authority at the centre of the Edlington torture case controversy is to face an official investigation into its management and leadership, it was announced today.

Doncaster council was criticised last week after the full horror emerged of how two brothers from Doncaster inflicted a 90-minute long torture ordeal on two young boys in Edlington, near the town.

A serious case review into the brothers’ dealings with a range of agencies concluded the incident was preventable. The council’s children’s services were already under fire following a series of deaths of youngsters known to the authority.

Today the Audit Commission announced it will carry out a corporate governance inspection of the council. These inspections are undertaken only rarely, when a council is deemed to be failing, or when its performance has been so persistently poor that public confidence or safety is at risk.

It said: “The Audit Commission has today informed the mayor and acting chief executive of Doncaster metropolitan borough council that it will carry out a corporate governance inspection of the council.

“This decision has been taken in the light of serious concerns about the council’s performance in the last two years and the threat to public confidence caused by recent events.

“The inspection will take place as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made.

“The team will be led by a senior inspector from the Audit Commission and will include an appropriate mix of expertise from inspectorates and the local government sector.

“The Audit Commission will not be making any further statements on this work until the inspection report is published.”

Last week, the two brothers, who were 10 and 11 at the time of the attack on the boys, aged nine and 11, were jailed indefinitely by a judge at Sheffield crown court who told them they must serve at least five years in custody.

The judge heard the young victims were strangled, hit with bricks, made to eat nettles, stripped and forced to sexually abuse each other.

It emerged during the court case that the elder attacker watched ultra-violent movies as part of a home life of “routine aggression, violence and chaos”.

He also watched the gruesome Saw movies when he was as young as 10, and was familiar with the Chucky films, as well as pornography DVDs.

The case provoked widespread criticism of agencies involved with the family in Doncaster and the executive summary of the serious case review revealed that the attack could have been prevented.

It included 18 recommendations for improving practice, with a catalogue of criticism of authorities’ conduct in failing to protect the victims.

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

Communities secretary John Denham welcomed today’s decision by the Audit Commission.

He said: “I promise the people of Doncaster that we are prepared to use the powers we have to tackle any issues identified by the Audit Commission which require government action.”

In December Doncaster council scored a one out of four in its annual comprehensive area assessment and its services got two red flags.

The Department of Communities and Local Government said government representatives held a “productive meeting” with Doncaster council on Thursday to discuss a package of support to help it make improvements and the inspection will inform that.