More Labour Failures - South Yorkshire

Doncaster 'was warned of dangers to children four years ago'

DONCASTER council - the focus of a Government-ordered inquiry into its child protection record - was warned four years ago that youngsters' lives were at risk, a former manager at the authority said tonight.
MORE REPORTS ON THIS SHAMEFUL LABOUR NEGLECT

Children's minister Beverley Hughes ordered a "thorough diagnostic review" of child safeguarding services in Doncaster in January.

The move came amid growing concerns about child protection in the South Yorkshire town after it emerged how serious case reviews had been ordered into the deaths of seven children who died in the borough since 2004 in cases involving abuse or neglect.

But tonight, former child protection manager Sharon Docherty said concerns were raised when senior officers began a radical overhaul of services between 2004 and 2005.

Ms Docherty, who left the council in 2006, told BBC2's Newsnight programme: "When the new structure came out the lines of responsibility, the lines of accountability, the lines of access to support were so fudged so as to be non-existent, certainly as far as frontline workers were concerned.

"They were confused, they were upset, they just didn't know what was going to happen to them; a massive feeling of insecurity, low morale and gradually people began to leave."

And when she was asked if she thought this would end up costing lives, she said: "It's actually something colleagues and I said to each other at the time: unfortunately, as a result of this a child will die."

She said her managers were also told this.

The minister wrote to Doncaster Council in January in response to concerns about the findings of an Ofsted report in December which branded children's services in the borough "inadequate".

REST HERE
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