Sheffield & South Yorkshire

'Abused' girl told to 'go home' by Doncaster social workers

A teenager who claimed she was being abused by her father was refused help by a South Yorkshire council and told to go home, a watchdog has found.

A Local Government Ombudsman report said Doncaster Council believed the 17-year-old was "not their responsibility" because she was from North Yorkshire.

It said social workers failed to assess whether she was at risk of "significant harm" if she returned home.

Children's services instead gave her £50 towards travel costs.

The report said the authority had a legal responsibility to assess a young homeless person's needs "regardless of where they came from".

An investigation found the girl had fled to Doncaster in 2012 to stay with her boyfriend's family.

'Vulnerable girl'

She told social workers in the town her father was "extremely controlling", had been physically abusive to her since the age of nine, and had threatened to burn down her boyfriend's home.

But the council told her they would not help.

Dr Jane Martin, local government ombudsman, said: "I am concerned that a vulnerable young girl, who has repeatedly asked for help from Doncaster Council, [was] told at every turn she [was] not their responsibility.

"The law is clear on this, a child does not have to be 'ordinarily resident' in a council's area, and [the council] should have assessed the girl's situation when she came to them and presented as homeless."

Social workers referred the girl to North Yorkshire County Council, who told them responsibility lay with Doncaster Council.

But the report said children's services disagreed and did not assess her.

The council was ordered to apologise to the girl and pay her £600.

It said it has since reviewed its procedures.

Eleanor Brazil, director of children's services, said: "We felt at the time that assisting [the girl] to return home, and asking the home authority to assess any need for intervention... was the right approach and we have liaised with colleagues in her home authority to help that to happen."

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