Solar Centre: Dual inquiries set to put scandal under spotlight


theweeksubThe public bodies responsible for the six-year delay in securing justice for disabled people abused at a Doncaster day centre could soon be facing two separate investigations.

Disability News Service (DNS) has joined with five families of survivors of the abusive regime at the Solar Centre to call for a small-scale inquiry into the failures of the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the NHS trust that runs the day centre, and other agencies.

This week, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) referred complaints from the campaign group about the failures of South Yorkshire police to the force’s professional standards department, the first step in the complaints process.

An IPCC spokesman said: “We have received information relating to a police investigation into abuse at the Solar Centre in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

“We have passed the allegations to South Yorkshire police as we are required to do, and have requested an update from the force.”

South Yorkshire police declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board’s serious case panel will decide on 4 July if there is to be a serious case review into the scandal.

A Doncaster council spokeswoman said: “The Solar Centre case will be submitted to the serious case panel (a sub group of the Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board) for consideration and subsequent recommendations made to the board.”

Because of the multiple failures of the criminal justice system, it took six years for the case to reach trial.

Last month’s successful prosecution of two former Solar Centre nursing assistants for ill-treatment only came about after DNS brought the scandal to the attention of the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, following two failed investigations by South Yorkshire police and CPS.

Relatives hope a review would be as wide-ranging and hard-hitting as the report into the Winterbourne View private hospital – which again involved appalling ill-treatment of people with learning difficulties in a health setting – which was published last August.

Adrian Milnes, whose step-son Richie Rowe was one of those abused at the Solar Centre, said: “If the serious case review is as comprehensive as the Winterbourne View one, then obviously I would be very happy. Unfortunately, I live in Doncaster and I know what they are like.”

He said that if the council decided not to hold a wide-ranging review it would be as “outrageous” as the initial failure of the CPS to bring any prosecutions.

6 June 2013