Edlington torture case: report exposes years of violence
PUBLISHED March 30, 2012
A previously suppressed report into the case in Edlington, South Yorks, was released detailing an astonishing catalogue of violent assaults, arson, alcoholism, shootings, and even attempted murder by primary school boys.
In one of the most shocking cases involving children for a generation, the brothers left their victims close to death after a 90 minute ordeal of violence and sexual humiliation in 2009.
Their victims were strangled, hit with bricks, made to eat nettles, stripped and forced to sexually abuse each other.
Although heavily redacted, the review exposes scores of instances in which social services, police and other bodies failed to act or pass on information about the pair.
It details how one of them, aged about eight, threw bricks at a moving bus, how his younger brother thrust another child into the path of a moving car and shot at another child.
They repeatedly set fire to buildings, attacked teachers, and openly boasted about drinking vodka.
Yet the paper, published by the Education Secretary Michael Gove, also details how the boys themselves grew up in an atmosphere of violence, drug abuse and almost utter neglect from birth.
Their mother suffered years of domestic violence from her alcoholic partner who had a string of convictions yet repeatedly took him back.
The report recounts how from an early age teachers, doctors and other professionals picked up and reported warning signs yet little was done.
In example after example, the report notes how matters of concern were passed to Doncaster social services but often no record was made and little if any action resulted.
An assessment carried out on one of the boys weeks before the attack concluded that he lacked many basic human qualities, with "no empathy", "no respect for police or authority", "no fear of consequences" and, simply "no emotion".
Around that time one exasperated official emailed a social worker raising more concerns and frankly admitting: "We are failing."
The report concludes that the spiral of violence was "entirely predictable", that the attack itself was "preventable" and that social services were guilty of an abysmal "lack of engagement".
Yet it finds that no individual could have predicted the full scale of what took place and no individual is named.
Yesterday Mr Gove condemned the current system of Serious Case Reviews as a failure.
He said that, while the report put important new information into the public domain, it fell far short of explaining why the authorities had failed to step in.
He has ordered a new inquiry into the case to be overseen by Lord Carlile.
In a letter to MPs Mr Gove said: "The redacted Serious Case Review overview report published today does not meet my expectations.
"It is an example of how the current model of SCRs is failing.
"It documents everything that happened but with insufficient analysis of why and what could have been done differently.
"In the future we want SCRs to focus on why professionals acted the way they did, and what was getting in the way of them taking the right action at the right time."
An executive summary of the report was published two years ago but the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, refused to release the full report, even in redacted form.