Saturday 23 January 2010


The parents of two brothers whose lack of upbringing led them to torture two innocent children face prosecution for neglect and child abuse. Additionally appeals will be launched by children’s charities to have the sentences given to the thugs lengthened to double the minimum tariff of 5 years.

The brothers were given an indeterminate sentence for the prolonged sadistic attack in Edlington, near Doncaster, last April. It is thought, however, that they pose such a high risk to the public that they may never be released. Doncaster Council has apologised to the families of their victims after a damning report revealed a litany of failings by its social services. A review uncovered 31 missed opportunities to take action that would have prevented the crime. Unbelievably only one member of staff has faced any disciplinary action.

David Cameron claimed that the case was symptomatic of levels of social breakdown. Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, denied that the scandal reflected Britain’s problems.

The brothers, two of seven sons of a drug-addicted mother and a drunken, violent father, had previously carried out numerous attacks on both children and adults. In this case they lured two friends of 9 and 11, to a secluded location for a 90-minute orgy of violence. They robbed them, threatened to kill them, stripped them naked and forced them to perform sex acts on each other. They punched and kicked them, stamped on their heads and threw bricks and heavy stones at them before trying to strangle them with a metal noose and a clothes line. One of the lads blinded by blood, lying face down in mud, eventually begged to be left to die.

Psychiatric reports gave detailed accounts of the boys being physically abused by their father and watching him punch and kick their mother. From the age of 9, the elder boy smoked cannabis at home, drank alcohol and watched extremely violent and pornographic DVDs. Psychiatrists said that he appeared to be lacking in any empathy towards his victims.

Cameron is right to point out that this is symptomatic of a broken society, but if he is pointing the finger of blame at Labour, then he must remember that Edlington was, until 1986, the home of one the largest coal mines in England. Whenever he thinks that Britain started to break, he must remember that Mrs Thatcher’s decimation of the coal industry left poverty and social exclusion in its wake, and whilst it’s not all her fault, she must take a share of the blame.
Ed Balls shouldn’t feel complacent either. The unbelievable slackness of the Social Services may well be at least in part down to the horrific paperwork burden that he and his stupid target driven government has forced on the authorities. And I wonder what kind of council allows people to be living within meters of the housing shown in the picture, as these people are Mr Balls. Would it be a Labour Council?

But the people who simply cannot be left to get away with this are these children’s parents. We are not talking about a single mother here, the children’s parents are married, and were they earning enough, would be entitled to a subsidy from taxpayers under Mr Cameron’s plans. Social Services have a role to play in the upbringing of children from dysfunctional homes, but one way to fix Broken Britain would be to insist that parents took responsibility for their children or paid the price.


  1. Cameron’s quick fix of tax breaks for married people would not have done anything to fix this appalling bunch of misfits. Because no matter how maladjusted they all clearly are they are married and therefore in the okay bracket. Another half baked Tory policy idea, but we better get used to them because I have a feeling we will be enjoying a surfeit of them before very long.

  2. Munguin:

    I said from minute 1 that the idea of paying people to get married was plain nutty, and designed only to get the average "Daily Mail" reader on board.

    Do you agree that the parents of these kids, who allowed them to be watching pornography, abused them physically and allowed them alcohol and drugs before they were 10, should themselves be punished?

    Would it not also be fair to look at the built environment that surrounds these people, as illustrated in the pic above? Why are people's neighbourhoods being allowed to degenerate to this level? If the councillors drank a little less of the tax take, maybe they could afford to knock this mess down....

  3. Munguin,

    The tax policy is one of the first stages of tackling this issue.

    Cameron is entirely correct to seek to make the statement that stability at home is important at tackling some of the worst examples of our social breakdown- anti-social behaviour.

    And while this process begun under Maggie, it doesnt really matter, as Cameron has not once accused Labour of being the cause. This goes beyond party politics in my view.

    But marriage, as IDS centre for social justice research can indicate to us, is one of the better ways of helping provide some family life, and stability. And while these kids here may have been from a married home initially, this does not errode the wider truth to my view.

    And beyond this, building more social housing, making it more economically beneficial to work as opposed to living on benefits [by increasing the min wage, as opposed to cutting already small benefit handouts] are parts of the next stage.

    This far from a half baked Tory idea, it is the beginning of the fight back against the Thatcher social consensus, it is time to forge one nation where we are not divided between unsympathetic rich and poor..who know and carel little of one anthers plight.

    Cameron is doing what must be done, dispelling the myths, and opening up the comfortable classes to this more violent, ignored and side-lined other Britain. The one of the council estates, ignored since 1979 by Thatcher, Blair and now Brown. It is time to end this squalid consensus!

    You do not agree?

  4. Yes I do agree that the parents should shoulder a lot of the responsibility.

  5. Dean if that is all really the case then why is David Cameron not telling us all that good news instead of you? So no I don’t agree. As for Tory policies not being half baked-well we will just have to wait and see, but if I were you I would not stake anything you value on it.

  6. Dean:

    I have this huge issue over the marriage thing.

    I would need to see the figures and how they were worked out, but the fact that married homes are more stable may very well be down to the kind of people who chose marriage, because they think that it is right, rather than because they think that it is going to pay.

    In short, people who behave badly when they are living together, will not suddenly become responsible just because they got married for a tenner a week.

    I think that people who get married at the moment are people who are sure they have done the right thing, they want to be together for the long term. Maybe it's a "class" thing; it may be a religious thing; maybe its "love".

    I'm not convinced that it is a cause and effect the way that the Tory party are seeing it.

    In any case, it should only ever be for people who are married and have children. Why should other tax payers fund a subsidy for non parenting marrieds?

  7. The Children were born under Labour Hegemony the parents under English Conservative Rule.
    And it was the Parents who brought up the children
    as they were taught under the English conservatives.......

  8. Well Niko, as it was in Yorkshire, it was English Labour as well as English Tories... but it's too frightening to argue about which political party should take the blame for this.

    And too important.

    These kids are scarred for life; we will be paying for the little thugs that did this at a cost of some £400,000 a year, someone suggested for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, 80 years maybe....

  9. You have to wonder what planet Niko's on when he thinks that the political party ruling the country has some influence on whether or not your kids turn out to be little savages.

    The blame lies squarely with the parents, not the Prime Minister, not the political parties, not the police, not even social services, although perhaps if they'd got involved earlier it might have been avoided. These parents allowed through neglect and example for their kids to grow up feral, other people in similar circumstances bring up their kids well, the kids don't get into trouble, don't think torture is a hobby, get the various social guidance that tells them certain behaviour is unnaceptable. That's not the job of the politicians, that's the job of the parents.

  10. QM: the lack of resonsibility in this case is one of its more worrying aspects. A broken society because it is always some eleses you correctly said, it is either the parties, or its social services or something. But where is the responsibility of the parents, of the local community in all of this?

    The majority of people on low incomes grow up right, indeed become sterling examples of community spirit, hard work ethics etc...this is a worrying case which opens a window into a resonsbility-lite other Britain.

  11. Quiet_Man

    perhaps you should say that to Cameron he is sure it is the political parties fault..well in his case the labour party.

    You do have a strange belief parents pop out fully formed and responsible without any intervening socialization or upbringing themselves...

  12. I agree that the primary responsibility for bringing up children falls on parents. Political parties can't be in the living room sorting out domestics.

    But Niko is right that Cameron blames the Labour Party for Broken Britain, as Labour used to blame the Tories.

    The truth is that the framework is set by the parties, but the day to day job is carried out by the parents.

    Dean is right, the bulk of poor people, even unemployed poor people bring up their kids well, with love and give them the best start in life that they can.

    If we had more decent jobs, better housing, and a minimum wage that meant more than JUST getting by, JUST paying the bills, then that might make it easier for families to succeed in a society that puts so much store in material possessions.

    Marriage is good, but only happy marriage, as this example shows. Just having a piece of paper signed by some local big wig does not make you a good or responsible parent.

  13. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksJanuary 24, 2010 3:59 pm

    Sorry, I can’t help but post an unsolicited comment from here in the states about this issue. Speaking plainly, are they DAFT?....thinking that providing a pecuniary reward to encourage marriage will solve, rather than exacerbate, a social problem. (I should mention that marriage laws, family social services, and juvenile and adult criminal law are state issues here. And some states do better than others at dealing with these matters.)

    Although the reported statistics vary, it’s clear that about half of American marriages end in divorce, often rancorous, and with the children of the broken homes in their wake. So I would suggest that there is considerable evidence that we should make it harder to marry, not easier. The idea of a monetary reward to encourage more people to marry moves in precisely the wrong direction. Just how will this make people more responsible? How will it make them better parents? What can it possibly do but increase the divorce rate?

    Meanwhile, we have the same nightmares you have. Biological parents, married or unmarried, torture and kill their children, and/or their children do the same to other children. Just how would having more of these fornicating and procreating couples be legally married solve anything at all? To me, this is all about grandstanding politicians providing some quick and easy fix to a nation’s social problems....and some lovely self-serving sound bites for the news media.

    I do have to say that I don’t think that politicians are at all suited to provide solutions to social problems. But they are encouraged to do so IMHO by the British electorate’s inclination to view everything from family violence to drunks in the streets as an issue for the major political parties at Westminster. I realize of course that this reflects your system of government. The fact that things from social services to liquor laws are governed here at the state and local levels, far under the national political radar, doesn’t mean that we’re any better at solving the problems. But it does prevent the Washington politicians from coming up with insane ideas like paying people to get married. Even the loony right wing Christian Republicans, when they bloviate about their “family values,” are not crazy enough to suggest that a cash payment to encourage marriage would help resolve the problem of violent, alcoholic, drug-addicted homes.

  14. Wow Danny:

    You certainly didn't mince you words there. You are, nonetheless, completely right in my opinion.

    Once upon a time married men in the UK were paid a marriage allowance to keep their wives, who did not work, but stayed at home and looked after children, the house, the food and the garden... It's old fashioned now, but that‘s how it was. A wife was a financial responsibility, a financial burden if you like, who had to be fed and clothed and entertained and cost money.

    Now women work, earning often more than their husbands. They are no longer a financial drag on a man. The idea of giving them money to get married is absurd.

    Any idea that an extra £10 or £20 a week would make drunks sober, or psychopaths sane, is plain (as you say Danny) DAFT.

    Doubtless, as I have said elsewhere, it is designed to please the readers of the Daily Mail.....

  15. @ Niko, perhaps you should actually read what Cameron said and not jump to conclusions.

    "This has been going on for decades," (Sky News) Note the word decades, this includes Tory as well as Labour regimes, you'll also note that it is broken Britain he's talking about, not Labours broken Britain.

    It's a problem and all parties are complicit to an extent, though not as much as the parents, Cameron more or less admitted it, but he didn't blame Labour as much as Labour seem to have been affronted by the suggestion.

  16. The idea of promoting stable families is hardly a right wing mad idea Danny.

  17. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksJanuary 24, 2010 7:33 pm

    I agree completely Dean. I just doubt that it's within the power of politicians, by some simple fiddling with monetary incentives, to do much to effect the changes in personal behavior, attitudes, and values that can bring that about.

    My reference to our American Republicans and their mantra of "family values," had to do with a group of political policies promoted by our beloved ex-president Dubya by which he pandered endlessly to his fundamentalist Christian base. As far as I could see, it really had very little to do with promoting stable families.

  18. Interestingly, we seem all to agree that parents have the bulk of responsibility for the behaviour of their children, and that governments may only be slightly involved in as much as they create the economic situation within the country for jobs and may, to a certain extent have an influence over poverty.

    What happens at the hearth is very much a matter for the family, but when things start to fall to pieces, there is no doubt that society needs to take a hand.... Something Doncaster local authority failed dismally to do.

    I think we mainly agree that whilst marriage is a good way to bring up children, it must not be ‘paid for’ marriage. And it is certainly no guarantee that the household will be of good behaviour.

    It is an enormous waste of money for the rest of us.... and although it will please the Daily Mail readers, I suspect that it will cause an outrage amongst others who have to pay for it at a time when everything else has to be pared to a minimum.

    I think we can also agree that Britain has been falling down for an awful lot longer than Mr Blair or even Brown has been around, never mind in charge.

  19. Tris,

    The polling data is quite tight on this Tory proposals.

  20. Dean,

    I'm not sure what you are saying here.... is it that it is a popular move according to the pollsters?