Ofsted Admit to Failings After Child Abuse Investigation into Doncaster Children’s Homes

Posted on: 4 mins read
Last updated:
Hywel Thomas Profile Picture
Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Share Article:

The BBC recently completed an investigation into two children’s homes in Doncaster in January 2023, after reports of physical and emotional abuse by staff. The homes, owned by the Hesley group, upheld a “Good” rating by Ofsted, despite over 100 complaints being logged. This was highlighted by leaked documents and interviews with former staff who tried to speak out.

The children’s homes, Wilsic Hall and Fullterton House, are currently subject to a police investigation. Several instances were reported, including:

    • A child rubbing washing up liquid all over his arms, declaring: “I do this so the night staff can't grab me”;
    • Appalling neglect
    • Vinegar poured on cuts
    • 2 other reports of children not being given medication for days;
    • 4 allegations of others not being fed properly - with at least one child having documented weight loss;
    • Unexplained injuries to a child's eye and one child being hit over the head with a plastic file;
    • Children reportedly being locked overnight in bathrooms, left in soiled clothes, made to sit in cold baths and deprived of medication for days.

According to the BBC, one young resident was dragged across the floor of one of the homes.

TrustpilotStarsWe're ratedExcellent

How Did the Abuse Go Unreported?

The leaked Hesley logs show that Doncaster Council's safeguarding lead, known as the LADO (Local Authority Designation Officer), was sent 66 separate warnings about the Hesley homes over a three-year period. The LADO’s responsibility is to ensure allegations like these are recorded, monitored and progressed appropriately. The LADO should involve the police or regulatory bodies where appropriate.

Despite Ofsted receiving 40 alerts, the homes continued to be rated “Good”, but in March 2021, the regulator finally stepped in and soon closed them down.

Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, told the BBC that while there was "a great failure of integrity" by Hesley managers to report incidents, she was "deeply sorry" for the regulator's failures.

"We acted in response to concerns [but] we worked slower than we should have to recognise the pattern of abuse."

Ms Spielman says Ofsted needs new powers to regulate owners of children's homes, to allow them to "join-up information".

"It's hard to recognise which other homes may have similar risks or if there is a deeper management problem." she said.

In January 2023, it was revealed by the BBC that there were more than 100 reports of appalling abuse from 2018 until 2023, which were uncovered at three sites. All of these sites have now been closed, and they were sites ran by the Hesley Group as well.

In relation to this ongoing case, the homes, Wilsic Hall and Fullterton House, are now subject to a South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Safeguarding Partnership complex child abuse investigation, called Operation Lemur Alpha. This will look into all the claims from 2018, until 2021, and people or families who wish to contact the Yorkshire Police directly, should do so via this link. If you may have any relevant information that would assist the police investigation, then please complete the “click here to provide information to the investigation team” on the link.

Can I Claim Compensation for Abuse in Local Authority Care?

If you were under the care of the local authority and suffered neglect or abuse, you could make a claim against them if they were legally responsible to protect you from harm.

Circumstances in which the local authority could be held responsible for the neglect or abuse are:

  • Where a local authority has assumed responsibility to protect you from danger.
  • Where the local authority has done something which prevented another from protecting you from danger.
  • Where the person that caused you the harm was under the local authority’s control.
  • Where the local authority’s employees created a source of danger.

Other circumstances where claims could be made against the local authority including neglect or abuse that took place in foster homes, children’s homes, schools and other institutions.

The rules around whether the local authority can be held responsible can be quite complex. That’s why it’s important to speak to a specialist Abuse Solicitor who can advise you whether you have a claim.

Why Should I Make a Claim?

It can be a difficult decision to make, but for some abuse survivors, making a claim through the civil courts can be the only way to get some form of justice and recognition, particularly if the abuser was not convicted in a criminal court.

It’s often not about the compensation you’ll get in a civil claim, but any compensation you do receive should reflect as much as possible the pain and suffering you’ve been through and may still be going through now. It can also help you to get the treatment you need to help your recovery from the abuse you’ve suffered.

We’re happy to talk you through the claims process so you’re clear about what will happen and you’re under no obligation to make a claim

How Simpson Millar Can Help People who have Suffered Abuse

If you have sustained physical, sexual or psychological injury as a result of abuse in your childhood, within a children’s home or other institution, it can be difficult to come to terms with what has happened to you. When you’re ready to talk about your experiences, we’re ready to advise you on what steps you can take, and we can be there every step of the way.

Our Abuse Team has extensive experience representing survivors of child abuse, including people who were abused in children’s homes that are both privately run, and run by Local Authorities. You can read more about how we can help with institutional abuse claims like these. We also have experience dealing with instances of non-recent abuse, if you were abused in your childhood. If you would like to speak confidentially to a member of our team, please call us on 0808 239 1287.


BBC News. (2022, January 26). Doncaster children's homes abuse scandal: Victims 'failed'. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63792458

Hesley Group. (n.d.). Home. https://www.hesleygroup.co.uk/

CYP Now. (2023, October 12). Ofsted apologises for failures over Doncaster children's homes abuse scandal. https://www.cypnow.co.uk/news/article/ofsted-apologises-for-failures-over-doncaster-children-s-homes-abuse-scandal

BBC News. (2023, March 16). Doncaster children's homes abuse: Ex-police officer guilty. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-65323711

MIPP. (n.d.). Operation: 14SY21A04-PO1. https://mipp.police.uk/operation/14SY21A04-PO1

Hywel Thomas Profile Picture

Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

With a background in Personal Injury Claims and Criminal Injury Compensation Claims, Hywel started specialising in Abuse Claims in 2001. Over the years, he has seen the area of abuse law evolve, presenting new challenges and learning opportunities. He has tackled cases against diverse groups, from local authorities to private schools, charities, medical organisations, and even individuals.

His passion for understanding psychological injuries led him to this area of Law.  Hywel's work extends beyond seeking financial compensation for his clients; he focuses on helping victims and survivors access support, making a real difference in their healing process. He values each client's unique motivations, ensuring they achieve what they desire through the legal process.

Would you like to speak to one of our specialist abuse team in confidence?

Fill out your details and one of the team will call you back

This data will only be used by Simpson Millar in accordance with our Privacy Policy for processing your query and for no other purpose