Council’s silence over abuse review’s failings


newslatestA local authority has refused to comment on why an independent review it helped to commission into a day centre abuse scandal ignored a series of key issues.

The serious case review (SCR) was only commissioned by Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board (DSAPB) after it was threatened with a judicial review.

But the report, finally published earlier this month, omits nearly all of the concerns highlighted by Disability News Service (DNS) since it began investigating the Solar Centre scandal in 2010.

During those four years, DNS highlighted serious failings by South Yorkshire police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), which runs the Solar Centre, on the edge of Doncaster.

But the 25-page SCR report, which took more than six months to write, contains little or no criticism of the police, CPS, the safeguarding board, or RDaSH itself.

Among the issues the SCR failed to investigate was why it took six years – and two unsuccessful investigations – for the case to reach court, despite the weight of evidence.

It also failed to mention that the trust may have ignored earlier claims of abuse at the Solar Centre; that a report handed to relatives watered down the true scale and seriousness of the abuse; and how one of the nursing assistants who was suspended after being accused of abuse was then able to work for a care agency for nearly a year.

The review also made no mention of the fact that South Yorkshire police only reopened its investigation in 2010 after being threatened with a judicial review.

But despite concerns raised by relatives of service-users, the national self-advocacy organisation People First England, and disability campaigners – who say it highlights the need for SCRs to be reformed or replaced – Doncaster council, which plays a key role on the safeguarding board, has yet to comment.

An RDaSH report into the scandal, completed in 2008, suggested that 18 people with learning difficulties, high support needs and physical and sensory impairments had been assaulted and otherwise abused at the Solar Centre.

Nursing assistants Susan Murphy, aged 44, and James Hinds, aged 59, were found guilty in May last year of a total of 25 charges of ill-treating service-users at the Solar Centre.

The two other defendants, Julie Burge and Michael Barnard, were cleared of all charges.

The service-users had suffered more than two years of abuse from Hinds and Murphy, who intimidated other staff into silence.

31 July 2014