Doncaster Council to spend £3million into 'complex and in-depth' abuse investigation at two children's homes

Doncaster Council is to spend £3 million into allegations of abuse at two of the borough’s children homes.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 1:34 pm
Wilsic Hall School children's home
Wilsic Hall School children's home

Although not mentioned in the report, the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands it relates to Fullerton House School Children’s Home in Denaby and Wilsic Hall School Children’s Home near Wadworth.

Both are operated by the Hesley Group, which has its headquarters at Hesley Hall near Doncaster.

Members of Ros Jones’s cabinet are being asked to note the updated information and approve £3 million in funding for the specialist safeguarding investigation, which will come from uncommitted general reserves.

The council has ruled the allegations passed the threshold to instigate a ‘Complex Abuse Investigation’ (CAI).

This means the allegations raised show organised or multiple instances of abuse involving one or more abusers and a number of children.

The alleged abusers concerned also may be acting in concert to abuse a child or children, or may be acting in isolation.

One or more of the adults involved may be using an institutional framework or position of authority to recruit children for abuse.

Fullerton House School was closed by Government inspectors earlier this year following an emergency inspection which also saw police brought in to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect at the school as well as similar allegations about Wilsic Hall.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed they are investigating both establishments.

Council bosses estimated that additional funding of up to £3 million is required, covering the period until December 2023.

The estimate is based on the current monthly cost of £110,000, which funds a ‘specialist experienced dedicated team’ including eight social workers, team manager, lead senior manager, head of service and administrative/business support, with an allocation for contingency to retain flexibility in carrying out the in-depth investigation.

Riana Nelson, director of learning opportunities, skills and culture, said: “It is the council’s statutory responsibility as the home authority to fully investigate the concerns raised.

“The investigation team consists of social workers, police officers and various health colleagues.

“For the council, an investigation of the scale necessary, taking the robust approach outlined, cannot be undertaken within current staffing, as business as usual and therefore requires additional dedicated resources, funded from the allocation of one-off monies.

“It will also take considerable time to undertake the thorough investigation, involving contacting all the service users that have been identified and constructing the essential evidence, taking a comprehensive, detailed and analytical approach.

“There is also a need to ensure appropriate timely responses and communication throughout the sensitive investigation.”