top of page

(UK) S. Yorkshire: 3 homes for disabled kids accused of abuse

Jan 25, 2023, The Star: Children punched, locked out naked and doused with vinegar at South Yorkshire care homes

N. England

A BBC investigation into Fullerton House and Wheatley House in Denaby, and Wilsic Hall in Wadworth has uncovered a sickening catelogue of abuse against children with severe mental and physical disabilties and which is being probed by police.

All three homes – owned by the Hesley Group – have since closed and bosses have apologised.

But the latest BBC report reveals more than 100 concerns were logged at the Doncaster children's homes, which retained a ‘good’ Ofsted rating. Leaked documents also show Ofsted was alerted 40 times about incidents.

The BBC says that more than 100 children in care, classed as extremely vulnerable are feared to have been harmed, involving many who are non-verbal.

The homes, which include two residential special schools, charged local authorities £250,000 [$310K] a year to care for each young person. In March 2021 the homes were closed.

Last October, an expert panel said there had been “systemic and sustained abuse” in the homes…. - Children were reportedly locked overnight in bathrooms, left in soiled clothes, made to sit in cold baths and deprived of medication for days;

- The mother of a girl - who is autistic and has severe learning difficulties and epilepsy – said her daughter had been dragged across the floor of a home;

- Criminal record checks were not signed off for some staff for up to six months after they started working with vulnerable children;…

The documents also describe appalling neglect including a report of a child being locked in a bathroom overnight, two others of children not being given medication for days, and four allegations of others not being fed properly - with at least one child having documented weight loss.

In total, the incident logs obtained by the BBC reveal 104 reports of concern were made at the homes from early 2018 to spring 2021.

Records show some concerns were found to be proven by the company - such as an unexplained injury to a child's eye and a child being hit over the head with a plastic file. But the vast majority were not, and many of those were not shared with authorities, despite Hesley managers having a legal obligation to do so.

The leaked Hesley logs also show that Doncaster Council's safeguarding lead - known as the LADO - was sent 66 warnings about the Hesley homes over the three-year period. Ofsted received 40 separate alerts - but the homes kept their ‘good’ rating.

Chloe Straw says when she approached the police in 2018, she shared the names of children she had heard were being abused - and those of alleged abusive colleagues - but was told there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case….

Another former support worker told the BBC they had also reported alleged abuse to police in 2018, but had been told there were not enough resources to investigate.

The broadcaster said South Yorkshire Police says in both cases there was insufficient evidence to progress with a criminal investigation - but it had referred the allegations to the local authority and had met council staff….

Last October, South Yorkshire Police said it was investigating allegations of physical abuse and violence, neglect, emotional abuse, sexual harm, unmet medical needs and misused and maladministered medication at the three homes….

Last year, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Phil Etheridge said: “I understand members of the public will be concerned by this investigation and want to assure you that we are doing all we can, as part of the partnership, to address the issues that have been raised.

“Since Operation Lemur Alpha launched we have been working hard to identify whether any children, young people or adults suffered any experiences at these settings which would meet the threshold for criminal investigation.

“These facilities offered care provision for people who have extremely complex needs. We and our partners have been working with a number of specialist agencies to ensure all of these individuals have a voice in our investigation, and that those voices are heard.” The investigation covers the period from January 2018 to October 2021….


bottom of page