Attack on boys 'could have been avoided'

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The Independent Online

An attack on two young boys which left them seriously injured could have been avoided, it was reported today.

Two brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, will be sentenced this week after they admitted brutally attacking an 11-year-old and a nine-year-old boy in Edlington, South Yorkshire, last year.

A report from the Children's Safety Board, which was ordered after the attack, is due to be published next week but was seen by the BBC ahead of its release.

According to the corporation's Newsnight programme, the serious case review identifies numerous failings by nine different agencies and says 31 chances to intervene were missed over a period of 14 years.

The report, which is the latest serious case review centred around Doncaster where seven children known to social services have died since 2004, highlighted 12 lessons that should have been learnt from previous cases in the area and in the run-up to the Edlington attack.

The pair responsible for the attack, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were known to police and social services before the attack on April 4 last year.

The family of the brothers had been in contact with nine different agencies over 14 years but a lack of leadership and cohesive work between agencies meant 31 chances to intervene were missed, according to the BBC report.

Police were alerted on April 4 after the nine-year-old boy who was attacked was found wandering, covered in blood, in the former pit village.

The youngster told the people who found him where to find his uncle, who was discovered unconscious in a nearby wooded ravine.

Previous court hearings have been told that the two victims were hit with sticks and bricks, one had a sink dropped on his head, one had a noose put round his neck and the other was burned with a cigarette on his eyelids and ear.

A district judge was told in April the younger boy had a sharp stick rammed into his arm and cigarettes pushed into the gaping wound.

Their tormentors also tried to force the boys into performing sex acts on each other.

The nine-year-old tried to ram a stick down his own throat after he was told to "go away and kill himself" by one of his tormentors.

An injunction banning the publication of details in the serious case review was lifted today by Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court, a spokesman for the Judicial Communications Office said.