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Crime-row council 'still failing'
A council that was at the centre of a child protection storm after two boys tortured and sexually humiliated two other youngsters has admitted that "features of that systematic failure remain today".
Doncaster Council made the comments ahead of the publication of two reports later on Friday which are expected to be highly critical of services in the South Yorkshire town.
The first was ordered by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove in March following the publication of the full serious case review into the brutal attack on an 11-year-old and a nine-year-old by two brothers, aged 10 and 11, in Edlington, South Yorkshire, in 2009.
Mr Gove said this report into the background to the incident did not "meet his expectations", and that it showed the current system of serious case reviews was "failing". He asked Lord Carlile "to carry out a further independent review of the issues and the action taken and improvements made".
The Carlile Report is due to be published on Friday morning along with the latest report on child protection in Doncaster following an unannounced 10-day inspection last month by Ofsted.
Neither report has yet been published, but Doncaster Council said Ofsted's main finding was that "there is too much poor work with children and families and, therefore, services are not managing risks for some children as they should be doing".
But the council said the inspection found that a significant increase in the volume of children and young people needing support over the past 12 months had "severely impacted on capacity with front line services". It said Ofsted also recognised continuing problems with recruiting both social workers and managers.
Doncaster Council's director of the children and young people's service, Chris Pratt, said: "It is clear that we have not yet fully recovered the systematically broken services that we previously had, and as Ofsted says, features of that systematic failure remain today. The reports do acknowledge progress has been made - and Lord Carlile's reporting states Doncaster is not faced with the shambolic situation of early 2009 - but I'm acutely aware our progress hasn't yet come far enough.
"As a result of better child protection work we are now actually working with an overwhelming number of children - including three times as many more child protection investigations compared to two years ago. Together with huge difficulties in attracting experienced social work professionals to work in Doncaster, this has put tremendous pressure on our services and meant our journey of recovery hasn't coped as well as we had planned.
"However, these are not excuses and we can and must do better to improve services. We are using these reports as a major opportunity to up our game and are determined to rejuvenate our improvement plan to speedily put in place the changes that will provide maximum protection for all our children and young people."